Diaries Magazine

True Confession.

Posted on the 15 October 2012 by Ellacoquine @ellacoquine
True Confession.  Illustration by Gunseli S.
I have a confession to make...
I don't know how comfortable I feel about publishing this considering that I live in France. But I think I'm just going to come out with it and share something deep, dark and personal about myself.
The years that I have lived here, I have picked up a dirty habit; something that I never, I say never do in the States. For some reason when I'm in Paris, I do it more often than I'd like to admit.
Please don't judge me...
From time to time, like once every six weeks, I eat at McDonald's, or rather, Chez McDo...there, does that make it sound fancier? 
Yeah, I didn't think so. Quel shame I feel for not always dining at local, independent restos, and for supporting the corporate monster that's responsible for everything that's wrong in the world. Okay, that's a little dramatic but still. I bet all my hipster readers are horrified right now, just horrified. I don't blame you, sometimes I can barely even look at myself in the mirror...
Yesterday morning, waking up with a bit of a headache from one too many glasses of Saturday night celebratory crèmant, I was in desperate need for my ultimate hangover cure of a New York deli egg sandwich on whole wheat toast, a large hazelnut coffee and the Sunday Styles section. Try ordering that in a Parisian brasserie. The closest thing to my hangover cure I can get here in Paris is an Egg Muffin at Chez McDo (I'm still trying to make it sound fancy), a caramel latte and reading the few excerpts of the Styles section that The New York Times posts online...many hours later.

If this is one the "prices" I have to pay for living in Paris, I'll take it...I've seen worse.

After consuming about a gallon of water, I threw on my cat-eye sunglasses to hide my watery rose-colored eyes, wrapped my head in a plaid cashmere scarf, pulled up my pink wellies and with a heavy alcohol-soaked head, I made my way down to McDonald's for breakfast on a rainy autumn morning. For 3 euros, I treat myself to their breakfast tonique; a cup of orange juice, a caramel latte and an Egg McMuffin. In short, hangover cure bliss.
I arrived at exactly 9 am, the time when the McDonald's in my neighborhood opens and watched the employee - still in her street clothes and jamming out to an obviously "featuring Pitbull" song on her iPod - just start up the machines.
Great. It was going to be one of those experiences.
After waiting for about ten minutes in silence beside another customer who didn't find this at all bizarre, the one and only staff member working, finally got herself situated in her uniform, her headset on her ears, all of her machines were powered-up, and lights in the kitchen were on. We were finally able to order. Thank God.
I ordered my formule tonique and waited patiently for my cure-all to present itself in all its glory. Several minutes later, my tray was placed before me and in my Jackie-O meets walk-of-shame get-up, I sat myself by the window to enjoy my meal. I opened the wrapper of my sandwich and before sinking my teeth in to it, I looked down and noticed that it wasn't cooked. At all. The cheese wasn't melted, I nearly choked on the powder that I inhaled on the barely toasted muffin, and don't get me started on the state of the egg patty. It was completely inedible.

I hate the predicament I'm put in when I'm forced to send food back. You don't want to sound like a bitch because you know it's not the server's fault, but you're also hungry and are slightly annoyed that you now have to wait another fifteen minutes or so for a replacement. Because I hate sending food back, most of the time I just deal with it, but this couldn't be ignored. The food was simply not cooked. I went back to the line and waited with my raw sandwich for about ten minutes. Once at the counter, I politely explained to still, the only girl working there, my situation.

"May I please have this cooked?" I asked the 14 year old high school student extra politely by using the formal "puis", and polishing it off with a s'il vous plaît.  

"What's the problem?" she asked with a blank stare, and in a less polite manner.

"Well, this isn't cooked," I then opened the wrapper to present the proof.

She looked down at the cold sandwich, took it out of my hand and stormed off into the kitchen, screaming to someone to redo it. I guess she wasn't alone...

Several minutes had passed and she reappeared with my sandwich and placed it on my tray. Before I could thank her, she cut me off by shouting over my head and asking the customer behind me what he wanted. Literally.

With my new sandwich, I went back to my table, took a sip of my coffee that had now cooled off and began to open the wrapper. While my sandwich was nice and piping hot, I saw that it was flat, completely flat. Okay. Ice cold, I can't do, but flat? Sure, why not? I tried to see beyond aesthetics and with full intentions to eat it, I attempted to pull the wrapper off but couldn't because it was now completely stuck to the muffin. What the hell did she do to it in "the back"? Sit on it? So as much as I hate returning food the first time, you can imagine my aversion to going up a second time. Am I alone here? For the second trip, I decided to be all French and just skipped the line (a little trick one of my favorite expat friends encourages me to take advantage of). I held up the sandwich with two fingers like a dead mouse and this time with a bit of a tone, I asked for a normal egg sandwich. I wanted to "s'il te plaît" her, but I don't have the balls to be that rude. I have never really been snippy in Paris, I don't see the point, but this time I was annoyed. What did she do the sandwich that made it so flat and hot? Did she fart it into submission? She came back several minutes later, told me that I could keep the squashed mcmuffin as a "gift" (merci?) and gave me a new one. I opened the new one at the counter and just like the first one, it was cold. I let out a laugh out of pure frustration, took both of the sandwiches, threw them away and did what I should have done from the start; went to Franprix, brought a dozen eggs, bread and bacon. I now have homemade egg mcmuffin material for the next week.
This ought to teach me to not go to McDonald's and to lay off the Saturday night booze. If I had to give up just one...which do you think it would be?

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