Do you recall when WENDY’S first came on the fast food scene?

They had a niche to develop, and they did it very well. Hot and juicy was the claim and the burgers were fresh off the grill, not from under a heat lamp. They were made to order while you waited. They didn't sit under a heat lamp in a plastic bag, sweating and staying hot, but getting old.

Made to order was the rule of the day and ordering was the issue! WENDY’S spent their first several years in business teaching us how to order a hamburger. There was now an order to how your burger was ordered. Your toppings would be ordered in a specific order. WENDY’S created that order and we adapted.

My standard order in those days was cheese, lettuce, ketchup and mustard. That was the order in which the toppings were shouted to the back, whether I had the right order or not. I suppose it had to do with how they wanted the toppings placed on the burger to make it consistent for all employees and eventually the customer. It makes sense when you think about it.

And now, there are my recent Wendy’s experiences…like yesterday’s lunch. I went to the drive thru near my home. I made my way to the drive thru window and was very politely told to go ahead with my order. I’ve got this down; they have me trained over a nearly 40 year period. This should be easy.

I started my order, and was about to run off the new list of toppings for my burger when, before I could get “with cheese” out of my mouth for my single, I was interrupted by the employee asking if I wanted to make it a meal. Point two, this used to be a combo at WENDY’S, now it’s a meal. Like that makes it healthier or something!

My reply was yes, but I want to tell you what I want on the burger. The pleasant voice on the other end of the dispassionate menu wall said I could go ahead with my burger specifications. I was thinking, “Thank you. You only spent thirty years teaching me how to order a burger and now you’re interrupting me before I can complete the task you assigned so many years ago.”

So with my order placed I drive to the pick up window to pay and receive my hot and juicy burger, fries and Frosty, a treat that used be a splendid combination of chocolate and vanilla (they told us) that is now remarkably available in either chocolate or vanilla. Must they rock my entire WENDY’S world?

As the girl, who was extremely friendly and apparently happy (she was dancing and singing in between taking and filling orders), handed me change and a spoon I asked her if I could ask her a question. She said I could.

I began, “You folks spent thirty years teaching me how to order a burger and now, before I can, you interrupt me to ask if I want a meal. When did this change and why?” I was smiling and was not angry in the slightest. It was a friendly and curious inquiry.

Sadly, my WENDY’S connection of the moment didn’t know. She’d only been there a month. She was very kind as she returned my smile and laughed with me. I’ll be back, but after all those years of training, I want to order my burger the way they taught me!

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