La Poulette

Tastes like chicken.

Monday, July 18, 2005

For its delightful buttery taste was so worth the humiliation.


Back in the day when I still called Ljubljana home, shopping trips to Klagenfurt were also an opportunity to grab a breakfast at McDonald's (Slovenian McDo inexplicably doesn't do breakfast). I once got up super early just to catch the 11 am deadline. Finding a parking spot proved to be a nervewracking experience as I helplessly watched the final minutes tick by. Sheer luck somehow still had me find myself in line at McDonalds at precisely 10.58. By the time my turn had come, it was 11.02 and the pimply faced kid behind the counter flatly refused to serve me breakfast. Only until 11am, you see. I huffed and I puffed. He refused to yield. I cursed the bureaucratic Austrian mindset and the inflexibility of the American fast-food production process and reluctantly resigned myself to a rubbery McToast. I'm hatin' it.
Fast forward to Brussels 4 years later. The scene: Pain Quotidien, a chic little boulangerie/patisserie/sandwicherie, where Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for their delicious breakfast of soft boiled egg, croissants, jams, chocolate spread, coffee and freshly squeezed OJ. Generously served until 12 o'clock. 12.00 that is, not 12.01. For should you dare venture there at 12.01 and be so bold as to ask for a breakfast special, well, don't be surprised if the snotty waitress gives you a disgusted once over and tells you that if you were expecting to eat breakfast, why, you had plenty of time to get your lazy fat ass out of bed and into their place of business before the deadline. Not in those exact words, true, but in no uncertain terms nonetheless. Extremely sorry mademoiselle, they just don't serve breakfast anymore. You may want to point out that surely they couldn't have run out of eggs and croissant at precisely noon. You may huff and you may puff. But yield, she wil not. I subsequently vowed to spend my hard earned euros elsewhere next time, which is why this past Saturday morning saw me sauntering towards my neighborhood bar, L'Ultime Atome, at a leisurely pace. I found myself a nice table outside and opted for a delightful little continental breakfast. No, the bored waiter (all slouchy skater jeans and attitude) informed me; they only serve breakfast until 12 o'clock and it's five minutes past the hour now. This time I didn't huff, neither did I puff - nay, I begged and to my surprise eventually wore him down. But not before he gave me a paternal lecture on how all rules are there for a reason and how, in the same vein, when something costs 5 euros I can't expect to simply pay 4.50 for it either. I didn't bother pointing out that by selling me a breakfast after the deadline they're making money at no extra effort or cost to them; nor did I give him a little lesson on the concept of customer is king, which is one they surely forgot to teach him at waitering school - I gritted my teeth and remained polite, sacrificing my integrity for a croissant instead.

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