On the eve of Friendly’s announcing they are filing for bankruptcy and closing stores in Massachusetts, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let me offer them a little thanks…for nothing! Along with my deepest condolences to all who ever ate there, and my regrets this hadn’t happened a whole lot sooner.
I worked at Friendly’s as a “cook” back in the mid ’80’s, in high school—the one in Lexington across from the Wal-lex bowling alley (now Staples). The level of prolonged disgust I experienced in that kitchen was rivaled only by my first year of medical school, in which I dissected a cadaver and witnessed an autopsy. Not to mention the inexplicable rage we were subjected to on a semi-regular basis, depending on which oversized troll was managing. The place was run by one man, one woman, whose names thankfully escape me now. They were nearly indistinguishable, identifiable only by their name tags. I assumed they were related in some way, though I never figured out exactly how—perhaps brother and sister, or romantically involved, or both.
The seemingly innocuous summer job quickly devolved into an interminable sequence of horrifying moments. First, there was that time during the dinner rush when I learned that plastic is an appetizer (but first, some background on the fried shrimp platter). 1) They came prepackaged in 5-shrimp bags. 2) The bags were constructed of a high-tensile plastic and, as such, were difficult to tear open (thus assuring the integrity of the shrimp). 3) The shrimp came pre-breaded, leaving only the tasks of opening the bag and dumping the shrimp into a fryolater. Though no instructions were explicitly provided by Corporate HQ as to how the bag should be opened, I felt it safe to assume the plastic packaging was not meant to be consumed along with the food. On this particular day, however, rather than going through the enormous trouble of actually opening the bag, my boss—the more masculine of the two trolls—decided it would be in the company’s best interest if he/she expedited matters by simply submerging the bag in the fryolater, letting the hot oil do the work of opening the bag—by melting away the plastic.