Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Fast" Food and Javier the Clown

During the past three weeks I have come to some interesting conclusions in regards to "fast" food in Santiago, mainly at Kentucky Fried Chicken.  And let me say that I don't like to eat fast food much, but it is convenient when you are on the go maybe once or twice a month.

The first one is that "fast" is a relative term.  Why do I say this?  Well, I went to KFC with a friend for a quick bite to eat before we went to a friend's house and then on our way out to a disco.  We arrived to a line of about 12 people in front of us, and the service was painfully slow.  It literally took us half an hour to place our order, and by that time they were running out of food.  I wasn't even able to get ketchup packets with my meal. 

I also went there today to get another quick bite to eat between classes.  I thought that since it was 12:15 (the main lunch hour here is from 1:30 to 3) and since I went to another location it would be faster.  Well, I only had one person in front of me in line, but a few people still wating for their food.  There were also a few employees standing around just staring into space as well as empty bins where they put the cartons of French fries and empanadas.  I was wondering what was going on as I waited for my food along with the others.  The girl that took my order then called back to the guy by the fries, and he then scooped the fries up and put them into the carton.  Ironically I got my food before the other people that had been waiting before I even arrived.

So fast?  In comparison to killing the cow and making the food from scratch, yes.  In comparison to getting in and out quickly, no.

The second conclusion: KFC might want to hire a new person in charge of product translation.  This was on the back of the box for the French fries:

So what this is probably supposed to say is "Finger lickin good".  What it does say is "To suck your fingers".  I'll leave it at that.

And I found Javier the clown being the topic of conversation in one of my classes today.  We were working on telephone skills, and we got to the topic of how to handle a wrong number.  For those of you that do not know the story behind Javier the clown, here it is:

So I moved into my first studio apartment in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles in 2002 and got a phone line installed.  I started getting phone calls asking for Javier or Archibaldo, and the people that were calling were all Spanish-speaking.  This happened for months, and I would get calls at all times of the day.

Over the time, I got used to it and would switch over to Spanish to explain that they had a wrong number.  I pieced things together and found out the following:

I inherited the phone number of a Spanish speaking clown that performs at children's birthday parties.

I also found out that his business card was all over Los Angeles with my new phone number on it.  The most logical thing to do would have been to change my number, but I don't always do the logical thing.

So the phone calls continued, and then one day I had a horrible day and came home to another phone call for Javier.  I got a bit upset and started to give the person on the phone a hard time, and this is how the conversation went from that point:

Person: No, I'm not calling for Javier.  I AM Javier!

Me: (surprised) Really? How are you doing?

Javier: I am fine, but I got divorced.  I moved but have a new number.

Me: Oh, well I'm sorry to hear that.

Javier: Yeah, can you give people my new number if they call you?

Me: Sure, what's your number.

Javier: xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Me: OK, got it.  I hope that things go well with your clown business.

Javier: Thank you so much.  Bye!

So this may not have seemed logical on my part, but if I want people to stop calling, I need to provide them with the correct phone number.  So I added to my answering machine a line about Javier's phone number, and then I came home to still getting messages for him in Spanish.  So then I realized it would make much more sense to record it in Spanish.  I started getting fewer phone calls, and people were glad I had a number to give to them.

A few months later, Javier called me back overjoyed.  The conversation went like this:

Javier: How are you?

Me: I'm doing well.  How are you and the clown business?

Javier:  It's doing great.  Thank you so much for giving people my new number.  So when can I throw your kids a birthday party?

Me:  Well that's awfully nice of you, but I don't have any kids Javier.

Javier: Oh that's ok then.  I'll buy your wife a present.  What does she like?

Me: Well I'm not married Javier.  Thanks for offering though.

Javier:  Well let me buy you something then.

I tried to refuse, but Javier wouldn't take no for an answer.  Looking back this maybe wasn't the safest thing to do, but I gave him my address and we made plans to meet the following day.  Javier didn't show up, and so I called him a few hours after that.  He told me that he sold his truck and didn't have any money, and so I just wished him the best.

I would still get a call every once in a while for Javier.  I lived in that studio apartment for four years, and even the day before I moved out I got a call for him.  It was an interesting experience to have, and now at least I have an entertaining story to share with my students about how to tell someone they have a wrong number.

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