Monday, March 06, 2006

Y'know, The Ford tries to be a nice guy.
He really does.
He overlooks a lot of the trivial, idiotic things that happen in his life, 'cause that's life, y'know.
But there are some things The Ford just can't ignore.
He can't ignore how hot Keira Knightley is.
He can't ignore how miserably disappointing Cougar basketball is this season, just like last season, just like the season before....
And there's one other thing he can't ignore.
What was it again?
Oh, that's right.
The Fury. (Y ou may have heard of it; it's The Official Emotion of The Official Blog of The Ford, y'know.)
Yes, dear readers, it's time to play THE FURY.
This all probably began sometime Saturday morning, when The Official Building started trying to convince him he was going to die.
That'll set anybody's nerves on edge, doncha'know?
Thought he had it licked after a short evening at The Official Bar (probationary status) of The Official Blog of The Ford, thanks to some cheap beer and good pinball.
Or was it good beer and cheap pinball? Anyway, The Ford digresses.
Suffice to say, The Ford was feeling good when he exited the premises a full 20 minutes before the doors locked.
So good he decided to swing by a fast-food joint that, while not abysmal, offends The Ford in a minor way by bragging about the billions it's served.
It's all about quality, not quantity, people.
Of course, at 2:30 a.m., it's reall about keeping the drive-thru line moving.
After 10 minutes of waiting in line (and keeping his calm, since this is what happens on a Saturday night, post-bartime), The Ford was pumped to get a chance to order.
Only to be told that the only thing remaining was a single spicy chicken sandwich.
A. Single. Spicy. Chicken. Sandwich.
At 2 a.m.
With 15 cars in the drive-thru lane.
The Ford was convinced they were fucking with him. Finally, after several repetitions of the multiple identical phrases, ("You say you're 'switching over to breakfast'? Now? Are you sure? Switching over to breakfast? No burger? None?) both sides were convinced they were speaking the same language. The Ford took the sandwich.
Now, The Ford hadn't wanted chicken. The Ford gets a lot of chicken during the normal hours of the day. He likes chicken, especially when it's smothered in some decent hot sauce. (Though The Ford supposes that he truly loves the hot sauce; chicken is simple the optimal delivery vector for said sauce.) Chicken is a wonderful meat, The Ford says. But at the end of a long, long, long day, The Ford wants some good ol', USDA prime ground chuck, grilled to perfection and smothered in cheese and condiments. Failing that, well, he'll settle for McDonald's.
But there was no beef to be had.
So, after accepting his consolation chicken, The Ford motored on.
The Ford wants beef, he's dang well gonna get beef.
On to White Castle!
White Castle is not necessarily The Official Burger Joint of The Official Blog of The Ford. It's not even close. But its jalapeno cheeseburgers can be a satisfying port in a shitstorm of annoyance. (Still, dear readers, The Ford can't endorse All Things White Castle. This site -- --is just not up The Ford's alley.)
Now, The Ford doesn't necessarily purport to be an etiquette expert in most situations. He cusses far, far too much for that. But etiquette in the drive-thru line at 2:45 a.m.? The Ford's got that down cold:
Rule 1: Read the menu.
They generally put the menus up 10 feet before the speaker for a reason, people. Read the menu. Decide what might please your sophisticated gullet. Remember that decision, and move forward.
Rule 2: Keep it simple.
Special order if you must -- indeed, it's usually the best time to special order, since in-store traffic is way down -- but (a) know what you want; (b) express it clearly; and (c) move the fuck on.
Rule 3: Be prepared.
They ask you for your order after you've sat in line for 5 minutes; you should know what the fuck it is. They ask you for the money 5 minutes after telling you how much the food costs; have that shit ready. They give you the food after you give them the money; check your order then, without sitting in place for an additional 10 minutes.
That is all.

Obey these three rules, and 99 percent of your early morning drive-thru transactions will sort themselves out pretty cleanly.
Now, no one's perfect. Everyone, including The Ford, has fucked up on one of them on more than one occasion. But if you keep the other two going, you'll still be ahead of the game.
The Ford is considering posting these three drive-thru commandments near the key establishments in town. Until he does, he'll probably get repeats of his Saturday night White Castle experience.
Pulled up in the shorter of the two drive-thru lanes. Things are moving quickly, and then the car in front of him insists on getting two separate checks. In a drive-thru.
The Ford concedes the possibility necessity of this in situations featuring passengers with differing modes of payment. Cash and charge do not always mix, especially when one is fresh from the bar.
And yet, when both people in the car are paying cash, as the inhabitants of the car in front of The Ford were, well, The Ford wonders why the fuck they couldn't just settle up in the car and give one perfect, unified order. The Ford had to wonder this again when even the window worker was surprised by the use of nothing but cash to settle up. And when late-night fast-food workers are surprised, you have done something quite impressive.
Strike one.
Of course, the folks who insist on separate checks are apparently also incapable of reading the menu ahead of time, or, seemingly, at all.
5 minutes of scanning the menu was thus followed by 5 minutes of Q-and-A with the window person, inquiring what, exactly, this particular White Castle offered. After being shot down on their first two choices -- neither of which was on the menu -- they soon reached a compromise, and pulled forward.
Strike two.
At this point, time stopped inside the White Castle.
Or so The Ford assumes.
To think otherwise would likely mean accepting a worldview revolving around the idea of life actively screwing you over.
Because at this point, there was no more food. No more contact with anyone inside. It was a solid 10 minutes before any acknowledgement was made of the folks outside in their cars. There were still people IN the building. The Ford could see at least four of them walking around with clipboards and headsets.
But as far as people in the building willing to give food to the people outside the building who had just ordered?
Not so much.
After 10 minutes or so, the WC workers escaped from their isolation within time/space and continued serving the car ahead of The Ford.
Strike three.
By the time, The Ford reached the window, he fully expected his food to be ready. No special order, no fried foods, small bills and a long wait time usually speed the money/food exchange process greatly, once one reaches the window.
Alas, twas not to be. Another 10 minutes passed; apparently the time-space continuum is VERY unstable around this particular White Castle.
Finally, The Ford received his food and his change. The food was all there, and so was the money. Considering the perfect storm of annoyance to hit so far, this was nothing short of a miracle.
The Ford sped home, hoping his not-so-hastily achieved bounty would still be edible upon arrival.
So, of course, the gates to the alcove where The Ford drops off The Official Truck with the valet -- also known as The Kingdom of Liberal White Guilt -- were closed. The Ford, having had about as shitty an hour as a man with money, transportation and dignity can have, was not nearly as bewildered as the young couple trapped inside by the locked gates.
The Ford felt bad for them. While he, driven by an ever-growing rage whose roots lay far earlier in the evening, could cuss and spit like an old man getting a prostate exam, they were bound by societal norms suggesting that such an inconvience, despite its staggering improbability, was obviously not the end of the world.
In short, the man who has suffered through a shitstorm of annoyance is much better equipped to accept it than the man who is merely feeling the first few drops coming down.
Eventually, the gates rose, The Ford dropped off his keys, and retired to The Official Apartment, consciously choosing to ignore the annoying fire alarm lights still blinking in the hallway.
Y'see, The Ford CAN choose to ignore The Fury. He just needs a little beef to help out.
Though a little Keira Knightley would probably do the trick just as well.


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