Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Earlier in January when I was in Nashville visiting a friend, she and I tried to get ice cream at like midnight after leaving a bar. We drove to three different McDonald's (which encompassed about a five mile range) and were aghast to discover that at every McDonald's we visited, the ice cream machine was "down" (and at one particular restaurant, so was the grill. What does that leave one to order at a McDonald's? Ketchup?)

At the last stop on our trek we asked the drive-thru attendant why every McDonald's ice cream machine is "down" at the same time. We got some run around answer about it being "cleaned" that didn't really solve our problems. Fries in hand, we didn't spend too much more time thinking about it.

Until last Tuesday.

Once again, after leaving the bar, we have a hankering for fast food. We pull up to the first McDonald's on our stop. My friend places her order and knowing full well what the answer will be, I ask her to order me a small fudge sundae and a small Dr. Pepper.

"We don't have ice cream right now, ma'am! And, we're out of Dr. Pepper."

OUTRAGEOUS! I was expecting there to be no ice cream, but no Dr. Pepper? Even though my friend orders a happy meal, I refuse to give one cent of my money to this inferior fast food franchise. I am tempted to have my friend ask if they are serving breakfast, since apparently nothing they do at this McDonald's falls under the heading of "normal", but not wanting to get shot, we just leave.

Since McDonald's are a dime a dozen in any major city, we pass another one on our trip to my friend's house. Stupidly, we decide to press our luck.

This time, I ask my friend to say "Let me guess: the ice cream machine is broken?" Surprised at our witty banter, the drive-thru attendant playfully answers "It's down, baby! 10 p.m., baby!"

By this, I presume he means that 10 p.m. is when they stop serving the ice cream and "clean" the machine. Shouldn't they post that on the menu or something?

My friend, feeling courageous behind the anonymity of the drive-thru speaker, probes the issue. "Why? Why do the ice cream machines shut down at 10?"

Then, in what we weren't sure was a trick or a treat, the drive-thru attendant tells us to pull up to the window. My friend and I nervously proceed.

There we come face to face with two of Nashville's finest African-American male late-night drive-thru attendants. Seeing how desperately we needed ice cream (and that we didn't look half bad... after all, my friend is a model!) they inform us that they are "gonna hook us up." They ask us what else we want, so, leaping at the opportunity, my friend and I order fries and drinks on top of our fudge sundaes. We wait at the window for another minute, until one of the attendants tells us to pull forward and he'll bring it to our car.


Stupidly or hungrily or both, we advance the car to just beyond the drive-thru windows and park it. My friend locks the doors about 5 or 6 times, just for good measure.

As we are waiting, two more of Nashville's finest come wondering up to the McDonald's door, which is not only 2 feet from my friend's car, but is locked. They retreat to their car, which is backed into a parking space with the hood open. Great, they're stranded. My friend and I try not to look at them, but this becomes very hard to do when my friend tells me that one of them is approaching our car beside me.

Hearing some yelling, I pull out a piece of paper from my purse to begin writing my last will and testament. Then Mr. Stranded taps on the window. I turn to give him my best pissed-off-white-girl glare.

He holds up a five dollar bill and I hear him ask "Ya'll got change?" My friend and I both shake our heads no and look away. Death is avoided once he saunters back to his car.

A few minutes later, one of the drive-thru attendants comes unlocks the door to the restaurant and comes toward our car with two bags of food and two large beverages. My friend rolls down her window and takes the drinks.

"Thank you!" she says. "How much do we owe you?"

"Hold on, it's right here," says Mr. Drive-thru attendant as he roots around in one of the bags of food. "Here it is." He then hands my friend a piece of receipt paper onto which he has thoughtfully written his name and phone number.

"Thank you!" my friend offers again as she takes the two bags of food. "We appreciate it so much!" As we pull away, I examine the contents of our bags: two large fries, straws, napkins, ketchup and TWO FUDGE SUNDAES!

I take the number from my friend as a souvenir from such a memorable night. She is perfectly okay with this, because as Mr. Drive-thru attendant (aka Ronnie), my friend and I all know, she is never going to call him.

I tell this story both for the humor value, but to also continue begging the question: Are McDonald's employees lying when they say the ice cream machine is "down"? If the machine was truly "down", how could Ronnie just create two fudge sundaes out of thin air? Are McDonald's employees just too lazy to whip up a sundae or cone past the hours of 10 p.m.? Surely it doesn't take all night to "clean" the machine, if in fact it even DOES need "cleaning." Besides, wouldn't it be a better and more PROFITABLE idea to "clean" the ice cream machine during breakfast hours, when it's safe to assume that probably NO ONE wants ice cream?

For now, this remains an unsolved mystery. If I don't get a real job soon, I might just have to work at a McDonald's myself and get to the bottom of the issue.


  1. On the contrary, I recently found myself in the metropolis of Anniston, AL at an hour that I'm quite sure was past 10pm. Craving something sweet, I pulled into the drive-thru and ordered an oreo McFlurry, no problems, no questions asked. Maybe it's just you. Or Nashville.

  2. Ok, I take that back. The McDonalds across from the Galleria was out of Coke three Saturdays ago when Jamie and I tried to get one. THEN, the McDonalds in Chelsea was out of ice cream last week when we tried to get McFlurries. Moral of these stories: go somewhere besides McDonalds!


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