As a student at the University of Florida, I am exposed to a wide assortment of food choices. However, the majority of these choices I am bombarded with are fast food. While I cook most of my meals in my apartment, I can’t help but be enticed by the aromas of “recycled” oil bubbling in 350-degree vats, and menus featuring obviously retouched photos of food that, if consumed in high quantities, would give me a one-way trip to an early grave. And of all fast food establishments on campus, I tend to be smitten by Chick Fil A.
I know what you’re thinking. Why would I want to eat at a restaurant that is closed on Sunday and has a CEO who is against LGBTQ rights (two things that just don’t seem to fly in 2016 America)?
Well, for starters, their Spicy Sandwich, which I would occasionally pair with their corn-syrup laden Polynesian sauce, is the perfect “I don’t give a crap about life right now” meal. Most days, though, I would only go there for an Arnold Palmer (with homemade sweet tea and lemonade) when I when I don’t want to spend five dollars on Starbucks. But my favorite thing about Chick Fil A is completely inedible.
Every time I go there, when the cashier has completed my order, after I politely thank said server, they utter two words that, when combined, seem to make me giddy. Those words? “My pleasure.”
Yes, Chick Fil A requires their employees to say it to their customers. Yes, every Chick Fil A employee says it. Yes, it’s redundant! But I love it!
I must admit, though, I feel like this gesture has become a trademark specific to Chick Fil A because most eating establishments (even your four or five-star bistro) find the phrase "my pleasure" to be rather dated. Like writing cursive or holding the door for a girl. You know, gestures that display class and dignity.
My thoughts about this changed when my family was vacationing in the Tampa Bay area last week. We decided to travel to Ybor City in search of good Cuban food at the Columbia Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in the State of Florida.
While we enjoyed the food we had (including the "original" Cuban Sandwich and their famous flan), what interested me was what happened after the meal. Our waiter, Sean, after thanking him for the bill, responded with the same two words I hear at Chick Fil A. Interestingly enough, Sean never worked for the fast food chain in his life. He would tell us that in his nine years working in food service, he never was expected to use "my pleasure" until working at the Columbia.
I guess, in 2016, the one thing that doesn’t seem to be appreciated is common courtesy. When you’re driving, there may be a jerk in the pickup truck behind you running you off the road because he wants to swerve right past you. When you’re home, your neighbors from down the hall are throwing a party when they know damn well that you're sound asleep.
But, despite all the crass and immature people who walk the Earth, there will always be enough individuals who will take the time to treat you with the respect you deserve as a human being. Even if those individuals are being paid to merely say "my pleasure" to the customers they serve, you can feel worthy of someone's time, if only for a moment. In a world filled with ill-mannered curmudgeons and imbeciles, that very feeling of dignity can easily be rubbed off on the people that surround you.
I hope that you enjoyed this article. Writing it is my pleasure.