In a small town in the Texas Panhandle, there lies an Arby’s on the fringe of sanity. It is terribly old, it is terribly small, and it is terribly amazing in its unintentional hilarity.
It is the Twilight Zone Arby’s.
On a road trip Saturday, Adrian and I walked in and stood at the counter for about a minute or so, seeing no employees and taking our time deciding what to eat. Out of nowhere, a tiny employee (1) shoots her head up from behind the fryer, and then…this…ensues.
Noa: MOTHERFUCKER! Shit. I’ll take a…number 20?
1: What number was that?
Noa: (louder now) Sorry, the number 20!
1: No, what was it the other day?
Noa: I…um…what? I don’t know. It is now a number 20. The chicken meal.
1: They changed the menu yesterday. It was something else. What was it then?
Noa: It’s now a number 20. Just the chicken meal, please, and a Beef’n’Cheddar combo?
She then disappeared behind the fryer again, I assume to assemble the meals, but I’ll never really know. Once we had shouted our orders, employee 2 popped up from behind the counter where she was biding her time, because apparently at this Arby’s, only one employee may be visible at any time. She began digging through the fridge, which was 6 inches from the register.
2: I CAN’T FIND THE CHICKEN.
1: (distantly) It’s the chicken in the fridge!
2: THERE’S NO CHICKEN IN HERE.
Noa: Sorry, is it the container that says, “Chicken?”
At this point, I figured my chances of dying of salmonella were around 90%. They were operating out of a kitchen the size of my asshole, and the chicken had thrown them off to the point that I knew I must have been the only one to have ordered it for months. Years, possibly. They were perhaps totally unaware that chicken was an available meat option at their establishment.
2: I need a name for the order.
Adrian: How about Oglethorpe?
Adrian: Okay, it’s Adrian.
2: Is that with an E?
Adrian: No, no E.
2: With an e?
Adrian: Nope. There’s no E.
Adrian: You know, we’ll just be sitting right here at one of your two tables. I’ll just come and grab it when you’re done making it.
Adrian and I sat and tried not to laugh uncomfortably at the preparation of what was sure to be our last meal. We’d done a hell of a job guaranteeing that they didn’t really care for our attitudes and our preconceived notions about how a fast food place should operate (answer: not like any other in the goddamn world.) It only kept getting worse.
Noa: Wait, what is that poster all about?
Adrian: Sorry, I’m too busy staring at what I think is a bat hanging over there. That says a frightening amount about the condition our food will be in. Whoa, nope, not a bat. Still don’t know what it is, but it’s not alive. Anymore?
Noa: This poster, it’s just a giant photo of a fat kid stapled to a wall. There’s no text or logos or explanation. It’s just a fat kid. Who lacks context.
Adrian: Rag? Hanging light? What is that thing?
Noa: I feel like this kid might steal all my chicken and laugh at me, and then kick my dog. Or that he’s the mastermind behind the banking system.
Adrian: No idea what it is. They have cowboys and longhorns tiled into the floors, but also a bat doppleganger over the meat slicer?
Noa: And posters of threatening fat kids. Oh no. No. Sweet Jesus, Adrian, look at the fryer.
2 was, at that very moment, fishing out my chicken from the fryer with a spatula, pinning it to the side wall and dragging it up and into the box. I can’t say that at that point I should have been surprised in the least about her chicken removal methods given our earlier interactions, but a spatula would not have been the tool I chose in that scenario. I had, however, already been wrong about many things in this fine eatery–her methods should have been nothing new.
As she bagged our order, we walked to the counter to meet her, saving the trouble of calling out an order for an Oglethorpe who would never retrieve it.
2: ERDRIERN? I HAVE AN ORDER FOR ERDRIERN? CHICKEN MEAL FOR ERDRIERN?
Ever had a fun/interesting/horrifying/awesomely funny fast food or general restaurant experience?– Favorite Comment From The Last Post: From Dana The Biped: “Oh, god, I’m so depressed. And all because I know *exactly* what she means when she says, “what in the great blue fuck.” Because that’s the only kind I get. Which is not to say that I’m doing the diddly with Papa Smurf (even though I do have a thing for men with facial hair), but rather that it is a rare thing. It’s like a blue moon, except moons don’t give orgasms.”