So let me regale you with the unimportant minutiae that compromise my life, because nothing screams self-obsessed more than inane insignificant observations that make me feel like I am not really so insipid to think that my life rises above that of the tedious humdrum.
So lets play a game. Of the two stories posted below, one of them is completely true and the other is only partly true. I want to know if you can spot the fiction within the two stories. Remember that only part of one story is true and the other is completely true. Tell me which part is made up, from the beginning of the sentence to the end of the sentence, and I will announce a winner:
1. Driving around LA I spotted a 2012 Cadillac Escalade with Nevada plates that read “DOT NET.” I thought that is doable, probably true, believable, the skeptic in me remained dormant. In fact, from the hipsterish older vibe of the driver, ruddy male, balding, hair slicked back, budding ponytail, I wondered if he made his internet money in porn.
THE VERY NEXT DAY, I’m driving around LA and I spot a 199ish Mitsubishi Galant with California plates that read “DOT ORG.” Immediately the skeptic in me roars awake with a laugh and shakes my head wildly, nope, not in a thousand years, not unless it is a non-profit organization that promotes, I don’t know, water and sanitation needs in developing countries or some shit. Then I saw the unkempt teenage driver and I thought, oh, the son of a lady that has a non-profit website that runs some kind of youth centered music scholarship program.
Between then and now I convinced myself that surely somewhere some lady named Dorothy Knett or Dorothy Cuomo is hating her nickname.
2. Since about November, or earlier, the nearest “open until 2am” Taco Bell, which is less than a mile away, has been turning off all their lights late at night except for their inside lights and the drive-thru lights. The result is that the Taco Bell looks like it is closed but in reality the drive-thru is still open. But you actually have to pull into their parking lot and look closely to realize this.
Two slackers with bad attitudes work the late night drive-thru on weeknights. Anything other than tacos and burritos is suddenly “not available.” Apple Empanadas? “Sorry, we’re usually out of that late at night.” Cinnamon Twists? “Sorry, we sold the last one an hour ago.” Nachos Bell Grande? “We’re out of chips to make that.” Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes? “The only side available right now is the rice.” If you go through the drive-thru after 11pm when all the lights are off and you want something OTHER than tacos and burritos, forget it, they don’t have it.
In fact, even if you were to order tacos and burritos, such as the big box $5 specials, they give you a guilt trip. “I hope you know that you’re getting the last of these tonight.” And the way they say it clearly indicates that you are just a big burden on them. I mean, they are still nice enough that you can’t quite call them out on their Pavlovian conditioning, but you get that uncomfortable feeling like you made a mistake to choose to get something quick to eat at midnight before heading home.
So I started wondering how true it was that they were constantly out of food late at night. They didn‘t have that problem before the two asshole slackers started working the late shift.
I got lucky one night and saw a car pull in and I pulled in right behind it. I wasn’t even hungry but I wanted to do an experiment. I stuck my head out the window and strained to hear what the car ahead of me would order. The lady driving ordered a Volcano Double Beef Burrito Box and pulls up and SURE ENOUGH at the window when she pays she gets the spiel about how lucky she is to be getting one of the last boxes. I ordered the same exact thing as she did so I was listening and I knew that they give the spiel at the window not the intercom. So when it is my turn to pay, the guy begins with his, “you know, this is one of the last boxes for the night….” And I stopped him with a “Cut the crap. You are always out of food. Even when we order what YOU want to give us you are always at pains to let us know how LUCKY we are to get the order. You told the lady in front of me the same exact thing you are telling me. I call bullshit. I think you don’t want to work or you don’t want to be disturbed or something and you are systematically trying to condition people to quit coming here late at night.”
The poor kid was frozen and looked like a deer caught in headlights. And then for a second his face twisted up in unmitigated rage. And then he composed himself with effort. And the way he did so I just knew that I had totally NAILED him with the truth. In fact, the other worker heard the exchange and he was peeking behind some racks like a scared rat. Then the kid started with the denials, “Well sir, that is just not true, I don’t know how you can think something like that….”
I just raised my hand. “Save your excuses. And save your food, I don‘t want it. You win. I will not return to this Taco Bell until all the food on the menu is available again and I see that the lights are on like they are suppose to be to illuminate the front of the store. Just know that I will be writing your manager about this.” And I left.
So I go home, sleep, and the next day I write a short e-mail asking the manager to look at his security footage as to the lights situation and to also notice the late night sales. A weird thing you have to do is to first call a number on the Taco Bell website to then get the e-mail address for customer complaints, which I think go to Yum! Brand headquarters in Louisville, KY and not directly to the individual store manager, I believe. A process which I also think is redundant. C’est la vie. I complained that the store is not properly lit up and looks closed and that many menu items are suddenly not available as evidenced, I was certain, by the itemized store receipts. And left it at that.
About a month later, I get a generic e-mail, so sorry for your experience, blah blah blah, here are some coupons for free food. Ok not my problem and not what I wanted but Ok.
Then LO AND BEHOLD I’m driving by the other night around 1am and ALL THE LIGHTS ARE ON at Taco Bell. I get happy. I pull in, a Mexican guy answers the intercom, I order the Doritos Locos Taco box and then I very deliberately add an apple empanada to my order. Tick, tick, tick, fingers crossed. “That would be $7 dollars with whatever change, please pull up to the second window.”