Monday, September 5, 2011

The Taco-Bell that will Live in Infamy


We were just looking for a bite to eat. Instead we stepped into a 10 minute experience that none of would ever forget.

It all began six years ago while my my parents were visiting us here in St Louis. We did the perfunctory tour of St Louis. After our drive around the new Busch Stadium we were getting hungry so we began looking for a quick place to eat. We found that place, we also found ourselves stepping into the pages of family folklore.

The classic Taco Bell logo used from 1985 to 1...My dad and I were in line at Taco Bell. I don't remember what we ordered but I do remember it was wall-to-wall people. The rest of the family found a seat in the far corner of the "restaurant". It was a long wait so I sat down with the rest of the family.  My dad stayed at the counter waiting for our order.

The place was packed. The line was out the door. The tables were full. The cluster of people waiting for their order was building. Just a normal busy day at Taco Bell.  Then I heard…

"Pack it up Craig"

It was my dads voice over the din of the crowd. But that's impossible, he was at the complete opposite corner with what seemed to be hundreds of people jammed shoulder-to-shoulder.

"They lost our order".

I look up and my dad was signaling to me with his outstretched arm, index finger in the air making a circular motion. The universal sign to round everyone up, we're moving out.  I gave him a look like I didn't understand. Maybe it was disbelief, maybe I didn't want to understand.

Instead of asking the overwhelmed employee to remake the order, he chose to blast the news over the mass of hungry people. He didn't think I heard him, so he repeats, "lets get out of here, they lost our order, pack it up."  I noticed 10-20 heads turning our way to see our response.

My dad finds his way back to the table and we "packed it up". Our hungry crew got back into the van and drove an hour or more to the next eatery. I don't remember where we went but I'm sure the got our order right.

You may think the story ends here, not quite.

IMG_1008Yesterday we returned to the restaurant my kids now call "Grandpas Taco Bell" on our way to a Cardinals game. We went thorough the drive-thru.  The fact that I didn’t go inside wasn't a conscious decision, maybe the 6 year deep scar influenced me.

A voice from the back of the van yells, "There’s lettuce on my taco!"

They got the order wrong! After all these years, how could they be so heartless.  We all got out of the van to return to the scene, to “right-the-wrong”. We ordered a soft taco with no lettuce, so they gave us a soft taco WITH lettuce.  How unthinkable, how detestable.  Don't they know my kids would die if they ate lettuce?

This time the restaurant was empty. My son asked for a redo of the taco, they were happy to correct the mistake.  They even let us keep the lettuce filled taco. Turned out just fine. 

So what did we learn from all this? Nothing much. Except that you never know when a seemingly normal day will go down in history.

Love you dad!


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