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Service with an illegal smile*

If there's one thing I've learned from people who work in food service, it's that no one in the industry works without some sort of drug. Whether it's the caffeine from downing cup after cup of coffee in the breakroom, the nicotine from smoking loads of cigarettes in the alley, or the cocaine from the big pile of cocaine in the walk-in freezer, everybody has their thing.

But just as Burger King is the home of the Whopper, so Wendy's is the home of the Stacker 2 Biggie Combo. No two establishments are the same, and some are far more intense in their use than others. Below is a list of the top 8 chain restaurants; rated by the substances shot, smoked, swallowed, imbibed and eaten by their employees.

#8 - McDonalds
One warm beer

It depends where you go, but for the most part McDonalds is pretty surly. I've never been to what you might call a "laid back" McDonalds. Everyone behind the counter seems to be quite upset at having to report to work to begin with, and then you come in asking for what turns into "a goddamn Big fucking Mac without onions what the fuck!" and make everything that much worse.

#7 - The Olive Garden
3 Effexors

In some cultures, the merest mention of Olive Garden requires a day-long purification ritual involving long bouts of flagellation and planting oregano. To work somewhere so utterly reviled requires heavy use of anti-depressants. Pop your head in one day and look at the wait staff. Notice anything strange? That's right - no belts, no shoelaces. Suicide watch. And those long-sleeve shirts? Well you'd wear them too if you were a cutter. No, the Garden is a dark and sad place. Next time you get dragged there be sure to tell your waitress, "Hey, it's going to be okay."

#6 - Taco Bell
Bong hit and a Vicodin

Taco Bell just doesn't care. I'm sorry, they don't. They're the Patrick Bateman of fast food. Need proof? Look no further than the 7-layer burrito: the only fast food item created under the impression that people want to eat each ingredient on its own, in order. Are you kidding me? That's how people who nail breasts to two-by-fours eat. I only rated them like I did because I hope for the sake of humanity they're like that because of the drugs.

#5 - Subway
3 joints dipped in PCP and a handful of mushrooms

Subway checked out looong ago. Maybe they're coasting on the whole Jared thing still (bad idea - he'll be dead from heart disease inside 3 years), but whatever the reason, the workers just do edge out Taco Bell on the ability to stare at you like you're a giant scantron on exam day. They don't care at you, and they do it hard.

#4 - Pizza Hut Bistro
2 shots of heroin

These motherfuckers are like Subway if the workers at Subway hunched down under the counter the moment you walked in. Truth be told I've only been once, but I walked out because the service was so horrible. That's not fair I suppose as there was no actual service, which is why I walked out. It was like walking into one of those old photographs of a turn-of-the-century San Francisco opium den but instead of silk robes and rice paper screens there were stiff cotton pants and a late-90's sense of decor.

#3 - The Cheesecake Factory
A fat bag of meth

Their commercials say it best: "If you like your dinner with an extra helping of balls-out crazy, head on down to the Cheesecake Factory!" The waiters and waitresses will not disappoint as they serve you a meal with portions the size of their pupils. Last time I was there the waitress ripped the half-drunk root beer right out of Rowan's hand as she went to take a sip. When the drink came back it was half root beer/half coke and there were teeth marks in the glass. On the plus side, the kitchen area is very clean.

#2 - Pizza Hut
9 1/2 bongs

As I've explained before, Pizza Hut is the stoned employee's paradise. In the words of one former worker, "It's wild, like, you order a pizza...and there it is." The main reason Pizza Hut isn't #1 is because of the low level of interaction you have with the staff. At most you'll have to deal with two people, and that's only because the first guy wants back-up on confirming how awesome Rush is.

#1 - Moe's
Rating: ...
15 bongs +

"Welcome to Moe's!" *blurgle* *blurgle* *blurgle* I have never in my life seen a more consistently stoned to the bone establishment than Moe's. It may not seem as crazy to have a bunch of stoners serving you rather than a meth-head or a junkie, but at least those people have goals.

I went there one night, apparently after hours, but the door hadn't been locked and I was given a visual treat like none other. One worker was laying down on the burrito-making counter while four other Moe-ites covered him in beans, cheese, weed, lettuce and sour cream and then rolled him into a giant burrito-joint, which they then both smoked and ate. It was amazing.

I've heard they even deal there. It's not on the menu of course, but apparently if you order the "Small Wonder" you'll find an eighth under your tortillas.

No, I've been to a lot of chain places in my time and not since The Great Chi-Chi's Carnival of Chronic in 1987 have I encountered such an overwhelming collection of totally blazed bong-jockeys.

You may notice I have omitted the IHOP/Denny's/Wafflehouse genre of establishment. I have not overlooked their general fucked up-ness mind you, but rather I have found that they embody a mixed-bag of intoxication and, depending on your server, you could encounter any combination of the controlled substances mentioned above.

*Yes, I am aware of the John Prine song

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Copyright © 2005-2013 Graham Cranfield