I've got to lay off the crack. I left my house in far North Dallas at 1:15 p.m. yesterday, thinking I would have missed the lunch rush by the time I got to In-N-Out. When I got there -- well, you know the scene.
An employee at the end of the line told me the wait would be about three hours. I figured he was exaggerating. He wasn't.
A couple hours passed. We barely moved. But the clouds in the sky certainly did. Toward us. Something about the storm and the waiting seemed to just bring people together. Three of us, no names exchanged, became our own little tribe, predicting the wait time, deciding whether to wait it out, making a game plan in case of rain.
Within a half hour the clouds were on top of us, dumping preposterous amounts of water. I didn't think for a second about leaving. No one did.
Luckily, things got interesting.
While we waited, the three guys pictured above walked past the line and into In-n-Out. Slicker than the sidewalks, these fuckers. An actual hush fell over the crowd.
"Did you see that?" people asked each other. I watched for a few minutes and then marched inside.
They were schmoozing folks in line, trying to bribe other folks to buy food for them. Now normally I figure, whatever. But I was soaked and freezing and two hours in with, it would turn out, two hours to go. It just seemed outside the spirit of things.
I told them to leave, and threatened to get a manager.
"That's fine," one said. "We're not doing anything wrong. I don't see what the big deal is."
The manager told them to get in line. Instead, they lurked around and attempted the move again. So I got the manager again, and again he told them to get in line or scram. Finally they left. My companions cheered my valiant efforts. They did not award me with a Double-Double, so it meant nothing at the time.
But those little fuckers showed up again. And once again I marched my soaking-wet ass in there, and once again the manager blah blah blah. But they wouldn't be deterred, and sure enough, after I had waited three hours and was finally standing close enough to the building to see inside, I could see them through the window, taking down burgers and fries.
"Isn't that those jerk-offs?" the girl behind me asked.
"It is indeed," I said, and that girl and her crew, bless their starving little hearts, told them off through the glass. When the manager passed, I pointed through the window. He was apologetic, but said they just couldn't keep track of them.
It's amazing how quickly a community forms under bizarre circumstances like waiting four hours in the rain for a fast-food cheeseburger. I hope those boys enjoy their bad burger karma. They are in for a world of cosmic hurt. I just know it.
We finally made it into the building and up to the register and, suddenly, I got stage fright and couldn't remember what I was supposed to order. But the smiling girl at the counter waited patiently while I stumbled through it. "Three burgers, two cheese burgers, two fries, a large drink, and I vanilla milkshake." Had to bring some home to the fam (who I found out later like Double Doubles, of course).
Any way, after I ordered, I moved aside in disbelief, receipt in hand. I was so close.
And then the waiting began again.
Another hour passed -- another hour! -- and it finally happened. "Sixty-four," I heard the disembodied voice say.
My number. It was my number. I all but floated up to the counter. I skipped back to by seat with the food and bit in -- and I'll be damned if it wasn't the best first bite of anything I'd had in years. Must have been the journey or something. All I know is that it was, indeed, damn good. Better than I remembered. Too bad it'll be months before I can get another one.