The Day Fast Food Wasn’t

taco bellBill and I don’t eat an overwhelming amount of fast food. An occasional sausage mcmuffin with egg, an Arby’s roast beef sandwich now and again. When we do eat fast food, it is liable to be from Taco Bell. We both think Taco Bell’s food is tolerable, and the price is right.

So the other day following Bill’s doctor appointment, we were hungry and there was the ubiquitous Taco Bell right across the street. We parked and entered the restaurant for a quick lunch….

….that was anything but.

Have you ever been in a situation where a group of total strangers come together in the face of a tragedy? There were 12 or 15 patrons of this particular Taco Bell who were united in one goal – we wanted our food.

I should have recognized the ominous sign when I got in line behind a man who made the grave error of paying for his food with cash. It seems the restaurant had no change. Yes, friends, this fast food restaurant was totally without coins. It’s beyond me to see just how that happens. I think the cashier finally dug into the bottom of her purse and pulled out a linty quarter, a couple of dirty nickels, and a penny to give him change.

After I presented my simple order of a Number 3 Combo and two additional crunchy tacos, we sat to await the food which undoubtedly would come to us in two to three minutes, max.

As we sat and waited for somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 minutes, here are the things we observed…..

-The Diet Pepsi we planned to share was mostly seltzer water. We poured that back and got a Diet Mountain Dew that was largely seltzer water but a bit more palatable.

-A woman who had gone through the drive-thru came in because she hadn’t gotten about half of her order.

-While the restaurant was full of patrons, there was literally only one lone man in the corner with any food. He was hunched over it in fear that hungry office workers waiting for their gorditos would steal his food. The rest of us were waiting to have our orders filled.

-One person giving up on his order angrily left without even asking for a refund. About 10 minutes after he left, the cashier brought out his three tacos. “Number 146? 146? Number 146?”

-Another person left after he got his refund. When he was asked why he wanted his money back, he told the surprised cashier to look around because none of the crowd looking at her had gotten any food. “No one?” she asked in amazement. Apparently the fact that she hadn’t given anyone any food for the past 45 minutes didn’t raise any red flags in her 19-year-old mind.

-In the meantime, the person who had his food tried to quietly gum his crunchy tacos so the rest of us wouldn’t hear him.

-People were backing out of the drive-thru line because it was taking too long.

-One of the cooks (who clearly wasn’t cooking) left, went to the Seven-Eleven across the street and came back with a bag of soft drinks for the staff. That didn’t seem like a good sign.

-“Number 146? Three tacos? Number 146?”

Bill and I finally got our food, ate quickly, and left. In the meantime, people who were still waiting were warning incoming guests to leave while they still had some lunch hour left.

As we went out the door, it occurred to me that I should tell the man who appeared to be homeless that he should grab number 146’s tacos and run, but by that time, they had vanished.

And the boy who had run over to Seven-Eleven to get the sodas had run across the street to Del Taco to bring the staff some lunch.

Just kidding about last thing. I think. And it might be awhile before I think outside the bun.

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