Karl (louderback) wrote,

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Taco Hell

Hari dropped me off in the Taco Bell parking lot for lunch. I managed to cross without misadventure. After that, things began to go wrong. Inside I stood in line for a few minutes when I realized the line wasn't moving. I stepped out of line and looked around as best I could, found myself at the counter and was asked to place an order. There was nobody else around, so I did. Now it would appear that there were ten or so people standing around in front of the door of the Taco Bell having a conversation. Not eating. Not ordering. Conversing. OK, weird but I can deal with it.

I got my order (ordered from memory, didn't need the menu — if they ever stop serving big beef burrito supremes and double-decker tacos, I'm in trouble). I took it to the condiments counter where I couldn't find a real fork and had to settle for a spork. They usually have real forks; I just couldn't paw through all of the bins and find one. I tried to get my usual "fire" sauce, but couldn't tell "fire" from "hot" from "mild" they all looked the same color. I grabbed a couple, a couple of napkins and headed for the drinks stand. There, I filled my cup. Apparently, I did this poorly because when I picked up my tray it was awash with diet pepsi. I headed back to get more paper towels, but it did no good, my burrito and taco were beyond salvage. I dumped 'em, got back in line (there was a line this time, but that group was still blocking the door). I ordered again. I got my order, headed for the condiments counter, repeated the fork safari, and took extra napkins this time. Back to the drinks bar, I put my tray to one side, filled my cup again, went for a lid, and had to try three before I found one that fit. (What do you do with lids you've groped? I threw them away). In fitting my lid on my cup, I spilled my diet pepsi. Not, thank the fates, on my food (that was on the other counter) just into the spill tray. I filled my soda again. Said screw the lid and grabbed a straw. I didn't even consider trying to strip off the paper I just put it in my pocket turned around to retrieve my food and found it missing. Either somebody stole it, a cleaner threw it away, or I just plain lost it. I think I went back to the right place.

Frustration mounts. I've been here nearly thirty minutes by this time. I get back in line. Wait another ten minutes or so. Order another big beef burrito supreme and double decker taco. Skip the damn condiments. Screw the napkins. Drink in one hand, tray in another I head for a seat. Found one in a very crowded dining room. I discovered why the booth was empty when so many were full. It was dirty. Screw it. I unwrapped my taco, took a big slug of my pepsi, and started to eat.

I dumped most of my taco onto the paper after the first bite. Undaunted I used my fingers to retrieve most of it and expended my one and only napkin in the process.

Several days later (well, it seemed like it) I began the process of eating my burrito supreme. Naturally, it disintegrated after the second bite. Throwing aside all convention (Hell, I was smeared with taco sauce and vegetation like a two-year-old already) I snarfed down all the remaining contiguous pieces of my burrito and ate the rest off the wrapper with my fingers. It must have been a spectacle.

I headed out, stopped at the condiment bar to use up eight or nine hundred napkins. I really could have used a shower.

The trip home was nightmarish. I really thought that walking two blocks between my building and Taco Bell, not having to cross the street or anything would be relatively easy. It took half an hour.

The parking lot of Taco Bell is very busy. You don't understand, very busy. I took four tries to cross from the last bit of sidewalk to the vary edge of the lot where I could follow a line of parked cars back to the street. I think I was nearly run down twice, but I honestly don't know how close people were coming to me. It certainly felt close. They damned well were fast if they weren't close. Once I reached the far side, I walked along behind the line of cars and someone who didn't see me anymore than I could see them nearly backed over me. Things were not going well.

At the edge of the parking lot I headed off across the grass toward my building. When I got to an intersection with a stoplight, I realized I had turned the wrong way. Just a stupid mistake, but it caught me five minutes to catch it. I should have known that the traffic belonged on my left instead of my right, but I was concentrating on walking on the uneven grass, trying to keep my footing.

I retraced my pitfall-laced path (taco bell must have a prairie dog colony on-site) crossed the drive-in lane again (don't even ask) and started past the post office toward my building. No sidewalk. I was sure there was a sidewalk. OK, grass is good. I can do grass. I walked along, right into a rather large prickly pine tree. I didn't get it full in the face, but long branches scratched me a little. One more irritation. There is about a six-foot wide stretch of grass between the curb and a metal guardrail. I walked between them, on hand on the guardrail and was making pretty good time when the bottom dropped out. The post office is in a pit about the size of Crater Lake. At one point, they evidently put the guardrail up to keep people from falling into the pit. What they didn't consider is that the earth washes out under guard rails... they being rails, not walls… leaving huge deep ravines into which I didn't quite fall — repeatedly.

"Once out of the pit" — I trekked across the entrance to the post office, flirting with death in the form of two tractor-trailers. I could see them evidently there are different traffic laws on government property, however and pedestrians don't have the right of way. That hazardous crossing behind me, I faced a while new problem. I had been walking down green, unornamented grass for a while with no sign of my building. It is big enough and light-colored enough that I thought I would spot it easily. I decided I must have gone too far. I turned right, took off across the grass, expecting to bump in to the parking lot between my building and the medical clinic next door, or maybe into the clinic itself. Instead, just more grass.

I did not really think it was possible to get lost, but I did. Walking in a straight line (I think) I eventually came to a steep incline. I figured this must be leading down into the pit in which the post office resides, so I followed it down. No post office. Creek.

Well, any landmark is better than none. I knew where the creek was in relation to my building (behind it). I followed the creek in the direction I thought my building was. Jackpot! I came up on a number of ton boulders piled to keep people from crossing parking lots between my building and the Zesto ice cream stand behind us. I followed the rocks, found my own parking lot, followed around the edge of that until I could see the building and eventually made it inside.

"Uh … Bob?" "Yes?" "Uh… You've got food on your shirt." *brush* *brush* *brush* "Better?" "Uh … you've got a lot of food on your shirt." *sigh* and I headed for my office. Now you may think I'm exaggerating, but that was precisely the conversation I had. I got to my cube, decided I'd better clean up instead and headed for the men's room. I couldn't tell how stained my shirt was, the mirror behind the sink was just to far away for me to lean close and see, so I stepped into a stall and took my shirt off. I held it up, examined it as closely as I was able, and didn't see much of a mess. I put into back on, took a damp paper towel, and just generally brushed off my shirt, getting rather wet in the process.

Back in my cube, I sat down, took stock, and lost it altogether.

I'm not a weepy sort, but I sat and cried for ten minutes. A two-block trip to Taco Bell was a flat-assed fucking adventure. I'm losing too much, giving up too much ground. Something has got to change but I don't know how to do it nor how to learn to do it. I gave up driving easily, never liked it much anyway. I said good-bye to my books, old friends that pass slowly away anyhow; I'll have memories of each of them to sustain me. I am slowly saying goodbye to my computer. Now I will have to give up going out for lunch. I can't repeat such a spectacle again. It's not ego that prevents me, pride or any such. I just can't do it. It's wrong. It doesn't work that way. I'm like some little kid building a fort. In his imagination, it's a castle or a wooden palisade, invincible and protective. However, it's not. It's a pile of cardboard boxes anyone can push aside. I can't live with accomplishments like being able to go to Taco Bell on my own. It's not an accomplishment — it shouldn't even be an effort. Things are becoming major efforts that were unnoticed. I'm not complaining, my capabilities have changed, my aspirations and expectations will change with them. Until they do, I hate it.


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