Ordering Take Out in These Troubled Times

Okay, so it’s not a tech related post, but I’ve been having some writer’s block mid-way during typing up something and it was on my mind when I was getting lunch today. Note: For the future reader, this was during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This started off reading a Tweet from a food truck that I follow:

Apparently they’re not alone:

But rather than type up a rant about some of these people who review bomb restaurants, I figure I should type up my experiences and how I deal with getting food from restaurants in these troubling times. Whether or not you care about how I do things is none of my concern, but it’s how I stay sane.

Have food at home you can eat

If you’re getting food outside because you don’t have any food at home, you’re doing it wrong. You should have food at home before you go out to eat. And if you don’t have food at home, spend that money at a grocery store instead. Having food at home means you have the ultimate backup plan. This is your plan Z.

You might go “but what’s the point of having food at home if I’m going out to eat? Doesn’t that mean I don’t want to eat the food at home?” No! Sometimes I don’t feel like making something. Sometimes I don’t feel like having that canned soup or TV dinner. I’ll have it at some point, but now isn’t that time.

Don’t go when you’re hangry

I think it goes without saying, but if you’re crabby because you’re hungry, have a snack first before going out.

Have a Plan A, B, C, and maybe a D

Don’t plan on a single place, because if something goes wrong, there goes everything. Look around at what’s open, figure out where you want to go in order in case the first place you go to doesn’t work out for some reason. Then go down your list until there’s nothing left.

If you can order online, do it

Lots of places are allowing you to order online. If you don’t want to deal with a line if there is one, order online. There’s a good chance that you’ll have your food when you want it and most online orders do require you to set a time for pick up. Of course, make sure you actually can make it, lest your food gets tossed or goes cold. On the flip side, don’t expect your food to be ready by the time you said. Sure, it’s unreasonable if they still need like 15 minutes, but not when your food is being cooked by the time you arrive.

Arrive earlier than you would normally

If you still want to go an order at the place anyway, arrive earlier than you would’ve otherwise. Want to have your food at 12PM or so? Get to the place at 11:30PM. Because restaurants allow for online orders which take precedence, because you know, they have to complete the order by a certain time, it’ll take longer for you to get your food if you did a walk-in pick up.

Just today it took about maybe 20 minutes from the minute I ordered to getting my food. I saw about 10 or so orders of food ahead of me being laid out for delivery.

Scope out the place when you arrive

Before you park yourself at the back of the line, scope out the place. How busy is it? How many staff are working? Spending a couple of minutes figuring this out can save you a headache in the long run. If the line is long and only two people are staffing the place, maybe it isn’t a good idea to wait in line unless you really want their food.

On that note, if you’re trying out a place for the first time, I’d say skip it if the line is long unless, again, you really want their food. If you’re unsure about a place, waiting forever is not going to help.

If you have to wait, then set a time limit for how long you’re willing to wait

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses an call it. Don’t give into the sunk cost fallacy (I spent 20 minutes here, I can’t get out of this line now!). Set a time limit for how long you’re willing to wait until say the line starts moving or you get to a certain spot. Evaluate the situation when that time limit is reached and decide whether or not you still want to wait or to leave and try somewhere else.

Remember that everyone is struggling, and being a pill about it isn’t going to help anyone

In addition to staffing issues, there are supply line issues as well. I’m not going to believe for a moment that restaurant supply lines are normal. So I believe that restaurants and other food establishments are struggling, and worse yet, from what I’ve read, it’s a cut-throat business. 9 times out of 10, either you fail or you barely get by.

But in any case, being a pill about it isn’t helping anyone. It’s not helping you, it’s not helping the business.

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