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(Kaylia Metcalfe)


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Adventures in Dining




I ate at In-N-Out Burger today for the first time. I won't be back.

It hasn’t really been for a political reason or a emotional reason that I have avoided In-N-Out in the past, it has had more to do with my reticence to give in to anything that gets THAT much hype… but also because when I do eat at fast food places, I tend to have a few that I like or that I at least know well enough to warrant going there.

But today, I was with a group of people and not in charge of my own destiny…. So, when they said “We are going to In-N-Out” I was amenable to going.

It turned out that we were “THAT” family in the restaurant today.

First off, as we entered, I said, all nonchalant –like “So, I can get chicken nuggets, right?”

No.

No? No chicken nuggets? What sort of burger join is this? (Ok, so yeah, “burger joint” doesn’t automatically preclude chicken nuggets, but I was still surprised.)

No worries, I said, still all confident, I’ll just get a chicken sandwich or some sort.

Nope.

When they say burger, they mean beef. The end.

Oh…. Well… ummm… I can’t actually eat beef. It makes me sick.

 Yeah…

Have I mentioned that I was at this restaurant with my Aunt, my cousin/sister –Jennifer- and Jennifer’s two little girls, my “nieces” Olivia who is 6 and Bailee who is 3.

We had been at the mall for hours.

Hours.

We are all tired, some of us are cranky, many of us need to eat in the next few moments to avoid fainting or tears. (or both)

Also, the two little girls had been talking about going to In-N-Out all day… so far be it from me to cause a problem. I wait in line while the other two ladies entertain them and wait my turn. At the counter:

“Hi, I was wondering if there is anything you have that isn’t beef?”
“Oh sure, we have a veggie patty or a grilled cheese.”
“Great! I’ll take the veggie patty.”
“Ok, it comes with lettuce, sauce, tomato, and onions.”
“Oh, let’s leave off the tomato and the onions.”
“Ok, do you want cheese?”
“No thanks.”

I added fries and a drink and feeling a bit embarrassed for having this much trouble with my order I turned from the counter. And promptly dropped almost three dollars in change, mostly nickels and dimes, from the pocket of my purse.

All over the floor.

Ok. Let’s all take a deep breath and consider… I’m 8 months pregnant, I can’t bend, I am already pushing my high pulse rate at this point… and now everyone is staring.

I look across the restaurant at Jennifer and Auntie Ree who are chatting by the windows.

I wave my hands, I call out “Auntie Ree… Jennifer… JENNIFER!!!”

But their conversation is very engaging and they can’t hear me.

So I scamper over to them, continuing to wave and call out… … I have to get right up next to them before they notice me, “Please,” I say, but then words fail me, I can’t quickly enough explain what I need, “please come”

Jennifer follows me back and we find a kind fellow customer has already collected my change. I thank her profusely and just then my order comes up. Perfect timing.

Or so I thought.

I get my tray and head over to the table where I discover that my “burger” consists of two pieces of bread, some sort of sauce, lettuce… and… nothing. No patty.

My aunt returns to the counter with my tray and my receipt while I take my turn entertaining the very young and very hungry little girls.

She comes back with bad news: “They don’t have anything they can do, they don’t have veggie patties here. We can go somewhere else for you after the little girls eat.”

So… I get to make a meal out of slightly cold fries?

No.

I march back up to the counter.

“Hi, I say,  “I didn’t get a patty in my burger.”
“We don’t have patties.”
“But.. you told me you did when I asked what your vegetarian options were.”
“We can give you a grilled cheese.”
“Ok, fine, let’s trade this for a grilled cheese.”
“Ok,, hang on.” She turns to another worker, “What do I ring up?”
Another round of explanations.
“Oh, says helpful co-worker, “Just charge her for extra cheese.”
Me: “No. I’m sorry but no, you can’t charge me to do an exchange.”
“But you are returning a veggie patty.”
“No… I’m returning an empty burger.”
“But we don’t have patties.’
We go around again until I get to the end of my rope.

“Look,” My hands are flat on the counter, my voice has risen, “I asked for your vegetarian options. You said ‘veggie patty’. The word ‘patty’ constitutes a physical thing, a presence of an object that has been labeled as ‘patty’ , not the construct of empty space. If you do not sell any such physical objects, then you lied to me. At this point I need to eat. I can’t eat beef and the only other option is your grilled cheese. So, since you lied, you need to take back this empty space filled sandwich and provide me with a grilled cheese sandwich At No Extra Charge. Got it?”

They got it.

I even got new –hot- fries.

So, yeah… regardless of the politics of the Christian owners (only sign I saw of this was the “John 3:16” printed on the bottom of the drink cups) they don’t have food there that I enjoyed eating… so… yeah. Won’t be back.

Can someone please tell me what the hype is all about? I don’t get it.

1 comment:

David said...

The hype used to be the simplicity. You could go there and get a cheap burger and it was (usually) freshly made and very straightforward. Completely wrong for anyone who wants anything besides a beef burger (and that's always been true as far as I know).

That said, now that I've had Five Guys I can't imagine going back to In and Out. I don't think Five Guys has anything besides beef burgers either but they do a much better job of it. Better meat, more toppings, much better fries.

So I guess the hype now is habit. People are used to it and keep going back. Sometimes they drag people with them for whom it is an inappropriate establishment. This is why I avoid people whenever possible ;-)