To bus or not to bus: Is that really a question?

It’s not one of the looming issues of our day, but it comes up from time to time in fast-food Americana. Does Wendy have a right to expect us to clean our tables before we leave? Are we subjects of Burger King? Or should Ronald McDonald stop clowning around and make with the bus box?

Most, if not all fast food restaurants employ adequate staff to keep their kitchens running smoothly and their seating areas relatively clean. If all of us fastidiously cleaned up our area upon completion of our meals, some of these people could lose their jobs. Why pay people to clean up when you can guilt the customers into it?

Which brings us to our word of the day: CUSTOMER. There was a time when the customer was held in high esteem. Or some kind of esteem. The operative slogan was “The customer is always right”. Or, at least sometimes right. At any rate, store owners and business people worked to make customers feel that their business was appreciated. Not so much, anymore.

As small businesses have been replaced by ubiquitous chain stores run by interchangeable droids, it seems to me that customers are looked upon as an intrusion. How many times have you finished a transaction only to find yourself holding your purchase and staring at the blank face of a cashier? You break the awkward silence by saying, “Thank you”, to which the cashier says, “No problem”. So, you drove to that store, forsaking all others, spent your hard-earned cash there and the clerk/cashier reassured you by telling you that your visit did not cause a problem. How special. Thank you and good bye brick and mortar.

But I digress. I have never been offered a discounted hot dog for busing my table. I have never entered into any such agreement with any culinary establishment. I am not required to bus my table at Denny’s, how is it that we have incorporated this crazy compulsion into our culture? Am I going to be required to make my bed before departing Holiday Inn Express?

Admittedly, I feel a little guilty about leaving a mess for the next customer to clean up. However, they are contributing to this mass hysteria by not demanding the Colonel send someone over to clean up the fried chicken skin left on their table before they sit down.

If you’re a skier, you know that any food you buy on the mountain is like buying a mountain. Whether you’re an East Coast ice skier, a Midwestern cold-monger or ski out West, you know how outrageously expensive lunch can be. A bowl of soup in the Rocky Mountains is ten bucks. If you happen to get my table after I leave, please don’t disparage me for leaving that mess. The mountain employs people for that specific job and I would just feel way too stupid paying twenty bucks ¬†for a hot dog and soup and then cleaning up the joint on my way out. Ah, crap. Maybe just this one last time.

PLEASE NOTE: Much has been written and will be written about the tragedy at the Boston Marathon. I did not feel that my comments would have added anything to that conversation, nor would they have offered anything to those affected. Whether it turns out to be domestic terrorism or an international conspiracy, the destruction is on a very personal level. I offer my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those whose lives were lost and my hope for the best possible outcomes for those injured. My thoughts are with the city of Boston and those tasked with the capture of those misguided, cold-blooded killers.

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