In-N-Out versus In-N-Out

Anyone that has been to California knows that one of the “must-dos” of the state is a trip to In-N-Out. Even if you don’t eat fast food, or you don’t eat meat, you still do it. They actually are very good at catering to people’s health and otherwise needs: they have a huge “secret” menu, available to anyone. Grilled cheese, veggie sandwiches, fresh and unprocessed fries…

Of course I think that’s about the only good thing about In-N-Out. Personally, I think it’s a little overrated.

If I am in the mood for a burger joint kind of place, I do usually go there. I don’t eat red meat, so the grilled cheese is pretty decent. It’s close. And more than anything, it’s cheap – my favorite thing. It’s relatively infrequent that I go, though, so you can imagine how truly over it I am after going twice in the last week.

Early last week, I hit up In-N-Out near my apartment in Camarillo on the way out of town for my little solo jaunt to Solvang, CA. The one near our place is my preference – it’s clean, in a good area, and during the week is especially quiet. Camarillo is something like a retirement community. Most of the people that live here either are super old or super young; young families that work outside of the area coupled with the geezers playing shuffleboard. In fact, the In-N-Out is directly across the street from a 50-and-over neighborhood. My experience was pretty laid back: there weren’t too many people around, a man brought his wife that worked there flowers and a birthday balloon, it started to get a little busy right before I left. Nothing too big, though.

Then today, my husband wanted to go to the In-N-Out nearby where we were shopping in the southern part of Oxnard. Those of you that have never been to the Ventura County (nestled between LA and Santa Barbara on the coast of California), Oxnard (particularly the south part) is the more ghetto of the community. There is a lot of gang activity. There is a pretty fair amount of crime. Being from Chicago, it’s sort of child’s play to me, but I still don’t mess around when people start flashing gang signs and swearing in languages I cannot even decipher.

Needless to say, my experience was a little different today than early last week.

Ordering Our Food

We got there and I had to pee. I always have to pee – my guinea pig has a larger bladder than I do. And I drink a lot of Diet Coke. So my husband got in line while I ran in to quickly use the bathroom. As I came out, I eeked my way through the line, saying “excuse me, my husband is up front” and when I got to him, this crazy-looking lady with a tattoo across her forehead said “hey, step the fuck back to the end of the line where you belong.”

I smiled and just stepped to the side, Nick already knew what I wanted anyway.

Finding Our Table

We originally planned on eating there. Then it was going to be t0-go because there was nowhere to sit; and only a second before we got our food did we find a table open up. This place was like the state of nature for seating. Everyone was fighting. A woman in a wheelchair started screaming at people to get out of her way so she could snag a table. As we left, I could see people all hovering over the tables that looked as though they were about ready to finish. I overheard two guys in maintenance uniforms laughing about how badly people wanted their seats and how much they weren’t budging until their lunch break was completely over.

Getting Our Ketchup

So around the time I went to get our ketchup, napkins, and little packets of salt was when shit really started to go down. I was pumping the ketchup out of their old-style ketchup pump into these little, paper cups they provide when this woman shoved me to the side so she could have more room to slop ketchup directly onto her tray of animal-style fries. She pumped and pumped and pumped and it was slopped all over the tray. I kept thinking to myself ‘am I mad this woman shoved me or angry because of the mess she’s making for these poor employees to clean up?’

As I turned to walk away – having finished pumping my own meager supply of ketchup compared to hers – she turned and smacked me so hard in the boobs with her purse that I was pretty sure some after-jiggle occurred. Those of you that are women with big boobs know what I’m talking about – when you run without a bra, or laugh too hard in your pajamas … after-jiggle.

Eating Our Food

There is nothing about the food that is too spectacular to report. As I said, In-N-Out is a little overrated in my book. I had the grilled cheese again today, along with some fries and a Diet Coke (of course).

As I sat eating, though, I continued to peruse around the busy restaurant. People were lined out the door at that point. All registers were open and employees were screaming – literally screaming – at each other, it was just that loud in there. My husband and I don’t have shit to talk to each other about over meals anymore. Unless it’s about his day at work or some bullshit I want to complain about, usually he’s too busy hogging his food down like it’s feeding time at the barnyard to get in a word edgewise. So I continued to look around, only to find (to my dismay) that the guy sitting next to us was reading a book called “Dealing With Your Psychopathy.”

Real fucking nice.

Leaving The Shithole, Never To Return

As always happens, the real “event” of it all didn’t happen until the end, as we were about to leave. I know what you’re saying – some ugly ass bitch with a tattoo across her forehead telling you to “step the fuck back” wasn’t an event? Being shoved and smacked in the boobs for the sake of a tray full of ketchup was not an ordeal?

Not compared to Turd Girl.

Right before we left, a little girl and her mom sat down at the table next to us. The tables are in pretty close proximity to each other, so I could hear their every word. Her dad was waiting for a table near them to open up so that he too could sit down. They decided to just start porking down their food anyway.

Turd Girl couldn’t have been any older than five; six tops. Nonetheless, she was shoveling a double-double (a double cheeseburger) and animal-style fries (french fries covered in secret sauce, cheese, and grilled onions) down her itty-bitty gullet. And then she said the words that made her earn her title: “Huhuhuh … mom, my fries look like the turd I dropped this morning.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

I thought her mom was going to say something; oh, I don’t know, like that she should speak a little more lady-like in public. If it were me I would have smacked those animal-style fries right out of her hands. Turd Girl’s mom did nothing but laugh, though. Together, they laughed and laughed and laughed at just how much the french fries they continued to shove into their mouths looked like human feces.

So about that In-N-Out. It attracts a particular kind of crowd – at least the one in south Oxnard. The only other one I’ve been to has been in Hollywood with my friend Jeremy – quite a few years ago, while he was out on a visit. I remember we were sitting there eating when all of a sudden a bridal party came in to get In-N-Out after their wedding ceremony. The bride looked about 18; the groom was wearing a blinged-out baseball cap. This is why I don’t eat fast food.

The Burger Queen

For a very brief stint in high school, I worked as a fast food harlot.  Okay, I wasn’t so much a “harlot” as I was a queen, but you get the point.  I was that girl that you can never understand in the drive thru intercom, who chomps her gum in your face and picks at her nail polish, as if you would have no issue with such a food safety standard.  That was me.  I was the girl who would sit in the office, eating my salad, while taking your order and entering nothing into the computer.  “I’ll have your total at the window.”

But I was in high school, so we can all assume that if I worked in fast food now, I may not be quite so obnoxious.  For one, I would likely empathize with the general public more; for two, if I’m working in fast food at this stage in the game, I’m in no position to walk the line between ’employed’ and ‘fired,’ which I was most certainly doing when acting the way I did at my job in high school.  As time goes on, though, I realize that maybe I wasn’t.

Because I would consider myself to be a better employee in a fast food job, I generally expect others to do the same.  When I pull up to the window of McDonalds to get my daily Diet Coke (I’m addicted, and it has to be fountain DC), and the kid looks like he may not even be old enough to work, legally, I am in no way surprised by incompetence.  But when I pull up and see a woman in her mid- to late-40s, I expect better than that.

Now here’s the thing:  my father loves Burger King.  It’s a horrible habit; and I can’t stand the place myself.  But as he says, when you get to a certain age, you should be able to have the few things you truly enjoy without judgment.  Okay, fine – fair enough Papoo.  Although it would seem that service would be important, especially when he frequents the same Burger King so often.  And yet, time and time again, he returns with a story about something going wrong, always at the hands of the real Burger Queen – a woman quite obviously in (at least) her 40s.  Her name is Deloras, and even when it is sweltering hot out, she wears this long, dirty black cardigan sweater over her uniform.  She is constantly annoyed with my father, a sigh and extra chomp of her gum is standard when he pulls up to the window.  Her hair is generally disheveled, and if I ate the food I am certain there would be some of it in there.

I think, pulling up to the window, my father would get the best of service from this woman, the Burger Queen.  For one, he is a “regular” and in the fast food world, that means a lot.  But more than anything, his orders are generally simple.  It seems insane for him to order a medium Sprite and receive a King sized fry.  It seems ludicrous for him to clearly say “bacon croissant” only to receive a sausage breakfast scramble bowl.   Still, these mishaps go by every time he goes.

The ultimate in insults came the other day when he was given his food and the Burger Queen said to him “please leave the drive thru line, sir.”  I was there, he had been polite.  He asked how she was doing.  He paid, collected his food – and was then ushered out before she had even finished handing him his items.  No time to even put the food down and she was asking him to leave.  It was then that I realized, the horrible service would never end; my father will just put up with it, as all fast food patrons do.  The moral of the story?  Don’t eat fast food if you expect good service.  The real moral of the story?  No matter how bad the service, the Burger Queen seems to always prevail.