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The Mclaughter is free with an order

December 23, 2010

Post & Mail photo/Becky Hand — Customers find placing an order with Renea Farnbauch more fun than a Happy Meal.

Some people choose a profession which will allow them to make a difference in the world. Others make a difference by choosing to “bloom where they are planted.”
Renea Farnbauch is one of the bloomers.
Anyone visiting the Columbia City McDonalds may get a shock initially as they hear one of the ladies at the cash register yell out, “Next victim!”
When this is followed by “How may I mess up your order?” one can’t help but smile.
Farnbauch’s caustic wit and fearless humor has gained her a following, and those who work with her are the first to sing her praises.
Manager Marcy Haist says, “She’s excellent. I wish I could clone her.” Haist admits the crew loves her and misses her when she is gone.
“She’s had more calls on (the toll-free) complaint/compliment line,” than any other employee, and they are all singing Farbauch’s praises.
“They come through for a Renee fix,” Haist said.
Farnbauch was born and raised in Oklahoma, and says she was very shy as a child. When asked what changed her, she said, “I grew up.”
Until five years ago she lived in Fort Wayne, and until last year worked the summers at the Fort Wayne zoo.
“Last year I was Broomhilda,” she said, dressing as a witch for Halloween. “I put kids on the back of my broom and took them on a ride.”
But the powers that be at McDonalds knew what a gem they had and convinced her to stay at McDonalds rather than go back to the zoo.
“I love it here, I have so much fun,” she said.
And the customers love having her. A group Farnbauch calls “the coffee klatsch men” come in every morning wanting a kiss from her. Does she give them one? “Yes!”
She does trivia questions every day and loves to harass the truck drivers. And her humor bridges the generation gap, too.
“Four young men at Columbia City High School asked me to the prom,” Farnbauch said, laughing.” When asked if she went, she said, “No, I’m too old.”
Farnbauch’s husband of 31 years, Mark, might have something to say about that, too. He is an engineer at Lincoln Food Services and she likens him to an Archie Bunker type – “Not funny.”
When they are out together she says he tells her, “Don’t embarrass me today.” But a marriage of 31 years must mean he doesn’t mind too much.
She’s only been at McDonalds for a year, but has gained a following. She tells of one time when the lobby was full and one manager came up to the register to help by taking orders, and he was told by customers that they would wait for Farnbauch.
“When Ronald comes in, I (really) get going,” she says, and she was in the Old Settlers parade this year throwing cookies.
“The police put handcuffs on the Hamburglar and I almost wet my pants laughing,” she said.
Farnbauch says of all the places she’s worked McDonalds is the best, the most fun. This reporter suspects it is as much about Farnbauch as it is about the place. She has found her place to bloom and her employers allow her to do it.
“It’s all about customer service,” she said. “Making people feel good.”

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