Some may say it was a coincidence. Others may say it was random luck. But I say it was Divine Intervention.
Saturday I pulled into the drive-through at Taco Johns and ordered a crispy taco, a bean burrito, a small potato oles and a Pepsi. I should have known that Armageddon was right around the corner when this exchange took place at the pay window.
Worker: You ordered the taco and burrito?
Me: Yes. And potato oles and a Pepsi.
Worker (looking at his register): Oles and a Pepsi? Uh…yeah…right. That's $5:10, please.
Sure enough, when I got home, the potato oles were nowhere to be found. I had broken the Cardinal Rule of fast-food drive-through: I failed to check my bag to make sure the order was correct. My bad. I could have driven all the way back to get them, but that’s not my style. I hate confrontation. I would rather be trapped in an elevator and forced to listen to hip-hop music. I was hungry and exhausted; I just wanted to eat my dinner and watch King of the Hill. So...no potato oles for me.
The next day, Sunday, I was driving home after a church council meeting and decided to stop by Taco Johns again for dinner. This time, I was determined to acquire the coveted potato oles.
I saw the long line in the drive-through, so I parked the car and went inside to place my “to-go” order. It was the same as before: crispy taco, bean burrito, small potato oles and a Pepsi. But this time the price was $6:39, a difference of $1.29 from yesterday’s order. I was confused, but went ahead and paid. I don't know why I didn't ask about it right then, but before I could say “taco bravo,” I had already passed the point of no return.
It was then that I realized that my order was already in the "computer" and automatically displayed on a monitor in the kitchen where the workers were furiously filling orders. A spirit of dread filled my soul as I approached the kid at the counter who had taken my order.
Me: Excuse, me what's this? (I showed him my receipt and the initials SPO)
Worker: That's super potato oles.
Me: What are super potato oles?
Worker: A large potato oles with meat and cheese on it.
Me: But I ordered a small potato oles.
Worker: Sorry, I thought you said super potato oles.
Me: No, I just want the small potato oles.
Worker: Are you sure you don’t want the super potato oles?
Me: No, thank you. I’d rather have the small potato oles.
Immediately, beads of sweat appeared on the kid's forehead and his hands started shaking. His face turned white with fear. With great trepidation, he reported the mix-up to the workers in the kitchen. He was Frodo facing the fires of Mount Doom. I heard someone scream at him, "Are you crazy! I don't have time right now! I'll fix it later!" Frodo came back to me and said they would take care of it soon. I had ruined his day…what was left of it, anyway.
In the meantime, I sat at one of the tables to wait for my order. As I observed the huge crowd in the restaurant and the chaos in the kitchen, I knew this wasn't going to be easy: the kid would have to re-calculate my order on the register, give me a refund, and then they'd have to prepare another potato oles…all the while serving the hungry, impatient multitudes.
Next thing I knew, a worker solemnly emerged from the kitchen with two orders of potato oles on a tray, reminiscent of an altar boy bearing the cruets of wine and water at Mass. At first I thought they were for me -- bonus potato oles to atone for the sin of screwing up my order. But, alas, he handed the tray to a family that was waiting nearby.
A few minutes later, a worker found me at my table and handed me my order. I thanked him and looked in the bag. Yep. There they were. The hated super potato oles mocked me, determined to make my life miserable.
Saddened and angered by my misfortune, I asked myself, “What would Hank Hill do?” The answer came to me in an apparition as I stared at the meat-and-cheese-topped super potato oles in my hand. I obeyed the vision. On my way out the door, I threw the horrid spuds in the garbage!
Looking back, I should have given them to another patron. I hate to waste food...but by trashing them, I was hoping to attain a state of stoic indifference to replace my despair and unexpressed rage. I can’t bring myself to yell at people or make a scene in public. EVER! I’ve turned the other cheek so often that I make Mother Teresa (God rest her soul) look like Paris Hilton.
I say that my Taco Johns experience was Divine Intervention because it was two days in a row that I had tried to acquire the Holy Grail, aka the elusive potato oles, and both times I failed. Maybe God was trying to save me from the fat and calories; He probably figured a taco and burrito was all I needed. So, I'm thankful I was spared the discomfort of "over-eating” and the resulting misery. God works in mysterious ways.
I just hope He turns the other way next time. I've got my eye on that "Oreo Spoon-Bender Milk Shake."