For Pho’s sake, fancy a burger?

A warning to the three people in the world who read this is to make sure you’ve had your dinner before you open the link at the end. There’s nothing malicious in the link, but it may cure your desire for fast food for a while πŸ˜€

I rarely eat fast food. I’ve never been to Greggs for years and McDonalds maybe once in as many as 5 years. We tend to cook at home or eat out. Once in a blue moon we’ll get a Chinese carry out (see ps at the bottom). So, the chance of me ending up in McDonalds were slim, but……. while holidaying in Australia, I’d been heading to downtown Sydney by train to a little Vietnamese place, Vermicelli near the QVB building at Town Hall. They served fresh Chicken Pho soup with hoisin, chilli, lemon etc. Lovely. I liked it that much, I think I went 5 or 6 times in 10 days. I even took a picture of my Pho….

Not fine dining but beautiful

It was Saturday and my wife had to go to the office to work. I set off yet again for my Pho soup. It was $10 of awesomeness (breakfast in the hotel was $38 !!) Even with the train fare and 2 diet cokes it still came to only $16. I wandered round to the train station at Circular Quay. As usual it was busy busy with tourists flocking to the ferries and Opera House. I was now a seasoned Opal card expert ad flicked it over the sensor to open the gate to the station. I should have realised things would be different today when the stairs to my usual platform were blocked off with ‘No entry’ tape.

Big ships and tourists at Circular Quay

Luckily they had someone there to tell me I’d need to go to Central and walk or get the bus back to Town Hall. This was fine. My Pho pilgrimage was back on. 15 minutes later I was in sweaty Central. 28 deg C and even more hot and humid underground. I needed my nice cool Vermicelli cafe, my diet cokes and even more my PHO PHO PHO!!

I set off on my slightly longer walk, rucksack on back and a now rumbling stomach. For a Scotsman used to slightly greyer skies and 20 degree lower temperatures, by the time I got to Stockland Food Court, I could feel the sweat running down my back. My pace along Pitt St quickened. I entered the building, my journey was nearly over, my Pho was nearly min………..closed……what do you mean CLOSED!! The whole Food Court was in darkness. It turned out quite a few of the cafes and fooderies in downtown Sydney close at the weekend as all the city workers are having barbecues, sailing, swimming or sitting on the beach. I stood like a child who’d had lost his favourite toy. I pictured office city slickers stuffing their faces with barbecued short ribs and a cold beer laughing in the sunshine while I stood like a wet burst balloon.

I slowly walked back to Central. I could have found another place. There are hundreds, but, I was in the huff. It served me right. I’d assumed rather than checked. It was my own fault I was Pholess. 😞

It wasn’t long before I was back at Circular Quay. There are loads of eateries there so I wasn’t going to be stuck. Then I saw it. On the corner opposite the train station was a McDonalds. No Dave don’t do it. Don’t. Noodles and fresh chicken in a sweet broth is what u need. That’s healthy, Not a Big Mac and fries. I was through the door and in.

First thing I noticed were the large screens. Ooh, ordering was all automatic. I’d never seen that before. I watched a kid order a meal in seconds and pay for it using his phone. I thought…..doddle. Within seconds I’d ordered a chicken burger with medium fries and a Diet Coke. I was starving, this was quick, cool and easy. They even had a screen where I could follow my number 106 meal’s status. It was currently at the ‘preparing’ stage. I wondered whether this was now the norm and I was just out of touch. Suddenly my status changed to ‘Ready’ and my meal was mine. I rushed round the corner to my hotel , whisked 22 floors up in the lift and wheeched through the door to gorge. It was after noon so I’d probably have eaten hummus with a side of polenta by now, so I didn’t even feel bad as I stuffed french fries down my throat.

who needs people when you can have this……..

Later in the day I admitted the offence to my wife, who, instead of rolling her eyes and tutting, said she’d like to go there too. So, a few days later we stood outside McDonalds once more.

‘It’s cool, they’ve got these screens, you just click, pay and it’s there in seconds’

‘Great, I’m starving’ she replied.

We went in.

I’d big upped the place and the speed of service, so, when I was a screen with ‘Out of Service’ on it, I was slightly embarrassed. I turned right only to find ALL the screens had the same message. Even the little service status screen was dead.

I had to actually stand in a queue, speak to someone AND hand cash over the counter. How 21st century humiliating πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

We ate our grub outside in the sunshine and laughed at how easily technology can fall down. When I was a kid we used to go to Matthews cafe in The Vennel with my Dad. They had no computers, just nice staff , and, the greatest chips ever made. The staff knew us. They talked to us. Asked us about life, football and chips. Now 10yr old kids were interfacing via their Huawei with a screen which could die on them at any second. I decided not all new technology was progress.

The next day I was back in Pho city. The woman serving smiled and said hello.

‘You are back’ she said

‘Yes. I love your Pho soup’

She pointed through to the chap preparing the food through the back.

‘Everything is prepared fresh’

I smiled. It was great to be back…….

‘For Pho’s sake, fancy a burger?’ was written by David Linden. Catch me on Twitter @qosfc1919 – ©️Dodo Productions 2019

PS in looking up a picture of the touchscreens in McDonalds and when they’d been introduced (2017 I believe) I found this article…….. https://www.menshealth.com/uk/health/a759768/traces-of-poo-found-on-every-mcdonalds-touchscreen-kiosk-tested/ I’ll say no more πŸ˜‚

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