Thursday, March 27, 2014

Flowers and Bunnies

Tour De Husker Road Race, Cat. 4, March 22, 2014.  Raymond Ne.  Temp: 23F


I got a text after the race that asked me how I felt it went.  I said something like, "Smart."

I've never really had any idea of what to do in a race before.  I've only had the fitness for it to matter one other time.  Even then, I wasn't exactly racing "smart."

I'm far from smart when it comes to racing tactics. I've learned a little from experience about not going in too big a gear too early, but otherwise I generally have no idea what to expect or what I should do in certain situations.

That's why I'm kind of glad I read This Book over the winter.  It's a quick read and there's probably nothing in it that a Cat 1/2/3 guy doesn't already know.  But as a lowly Cat 4, applying a couple of things they talked about helped me finish way higher than ever.

It talks about 2 things in particular that I have always done wrong in  the past.  Conserving energy and trying to figure out the winning breakaway.

First of all, after watching hours of the Tour De France every year, you can start to feel that all breakaways are doomed.  This is hardly the case in amateur races.

Next, I always felt an obligation to do my fair share of the work in road races.  I've changed my stand on that one also.

The night before the race, I looked at who had signed up.  I knew that anything was possible, but I was mainly concerned with the people I know.  I couldn't guess about the ones I don't

Of those, I thought the favorites had to be Travis Loewens, Jakob Wilson, Rich Anderson and Me.

Greg Hagele won the race, but I don't know him and had never met him.  I think he was ranked highest on the USACycling race predictor thing, but since I didn't know which person he was, I couldn't really watch out for him.  I don't know Rich Anderson either, but I saw him race at the Papillion Twilight Crit last Summer and he seemed pretty strong.

Travis and Jakob, I've ridden with on several occasions and we are all roughly at the same level. 

So the people I decided to keep an eye on during the race were: Travis, Jakob, Rich, and Team Kaos.

Team Kaos and Greenstreet Velo each had 3 or 4 riders in our little 12 man group.

Husker Road Club had one rider.  So I was the designated team captain, domestique, sprinter, etc.

Immediately after the neutral rollout is the first "climb". There was a little shifting for position.  Tyler Loewens got to the front and was pulling.  I was right behind him.  I did not wish to pull.  In fact, when I looked back, there was nobody behind me.  The group was sitting about 5 yards back.  

Screw that.  I stopped pedaling and Tyler went up the road a ways until somebody from his team got his attention.  He saw what was happening and slowed back into the group.  Once we were all back together, Greg Hagele kind of jumped.  He got about a 15 foot gap, then Jakob moved into action, grabbing his wheel.  The rest of us didn't take it seriously and slowly got back with them where we all stayed a happy little group for the next 5 minutes.

Eventually, we turned right toward the east and had a cross wind from the left (North).  I was three or four back, but I was on the left side (in the wind).  I was looking around for an opportunity to get inside (the book warns about this sort of thing).  Finally, I saw a spot and took it, nice and comfy along the edge of the road.

As I was settling in for a nice happy group ride and thinking about flowers and bunnies and stuff.  The same Kaos Rider from before (Hagale) attacked.  This time hard.  Again, Jakob Wilson covered the move.  They were moving away from us quickly.  I saw another Kaos guy look at a GSV guy and kind of shrug.  I was surprised.  I didn't expect the members of these teams to give up the race so soon. Looking back on it, they probably all knew they had their best guy out there.  They were happy to go easy and sprint for third place later on.  That's when my team manager yelled into my headset, "Get the fuck in that breakaway! Allez, Allez!"

The Bunnies and flowers would have to wait.  I looked down at ol' Bessie (I don't really call my bike that), tapped her gently on the top tube (not really), and asked her for all the speed she could muster.  I had about 10 yards to bridge and I didn't want to pull anybody with me.
So I stood up and sprinted away, hoping like hell I wasn't dragging the rest of the pack.  I did expect at least Travis or Rich Anderson to have hitched a ride.  But no.

When I was about 10 feet from Jakob's wheel, I wasn't sure I would be able to grab it.  I was beginning to get winded.  Then Greg accelerated a little more.

Thankfully I got on as Greg let Jakob pull for a moment.  When I went by Jakob to do my turn, I said something queer like, "Let's do this!"  because at that time, I believed we'd be reeled in if we didn't all work together.

He nodded and we began to work beautifully together.  Until 18 seconds later when Greg got to the front again and just hammered.  Jakob and I basically just hung on from that point on.  Greg didn't want to work together.  We were ok with that.  In the cross wind, he'd ride so we'd get the minimum benefit of the draft.

After about 3 or 4 minutes, I dared to look back at the main pack.  I thought they'd be rolling right up to us.

They were not in sight.  We had turned to the South and were on the dam with a tailwind.

Actually, I never saw the main group again during the race.  I was positively giddy about that.  Paul Sherwen kept saying "Out of sight, out of mind."  I kept saying to Jakob, "This is so cool. They are not going to catch us."

On the second lap and going north into the wind up the hill, Greg went hard.  I thought I might get dropped.

He did the same on the third (final) lap.  Then finally, when we were getting to the top of the climb going east, Jakob, who was on Greg's wheel, let a gap open up.  I went around Jakob and came close to getting on Greg's wheel, but could not.  When I looked back, Jakob had popped.

I time trialed as best I could to keep Jakob away.  All day, I had been thinking the worst I could do was third.  Now it looked like second was the worst (and best) I could do.

When I approached the finish, it was so sweet to hear Lefler say my name (pronouncing it correctly and everything) and that I was coming in for second place.  It was also awesome that he did not joke around when he said it.  I would have been cool with it if he'd been like "What's this?  Did Hinsley skip a lap or something?"  Since last time I was in a race he was announcing was a cross race.  I tripped over a barrier and fell face down into the mud.  Lefler said, "Hinsley.  Anything to get attention."  He pronounced my name correctly that day too.

The next awesome thing was seeing that big old goofy grin of Munson's when I finished.  I realized having a friend watch it happen was neat.

When Jakob came in and we were chatting about the day, he said, "I thought you'd drift back to me once you got dropped."

I might have if I hadn't lost to him on that unofficial hill climb race last fall.  I guess that was another thing I learned.

Thursday Morning Extra: Sorry there was no Wednesday Extra

I was going to talk about the one time I decided to run a 5K race on the keystone trail.  At one time, I wanted to get a 50 minute seeded pass for the Corporate Cup.  I thought If I could run a 5K in 25 minutes or less, that would be a good first step.  I "trained" over the winter almost exclusively on U.P. treadmills.  I'd run outside occasionally, but  running is just a horrible thing.  Long distance, slow running is exactly what we (humans) are evolved to do according to people who sit around all day and think about this stuff.  So even though I hate it, I thought I'd give it a try.  This was what my ancestors had worn out cattle for or something, so ...

It was a St Patrick's day sort of a race thing.  There was food and beer at the finish line.  Well - there was food and beer at the finish line while it lasted - which was considerably less than 25 minutes.

Anywho's, Coach Barry was also in the race.  After he finished the race and knowing my goal, he kindly sauntered on back to where I was to pace me to the finish.

This might have been the very first BCM Pep Talk I ever got.  He was saying things like, "See that guy up there.  He's not going to finish in under 25 minutes.  You know what that means?  You're going to pass him.  Or you're going to experience 100% failure.  Plus, they're almost out of beer."

Well thanks to Coach Barry, I had something like 45 seconds to spare when I finished.  I limped over to the keg for a nice red plastic cup full of warm Bud Light foam.

Then I never ran again.

Thanks again Barry.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday Extra: My Hill Climb Race Report

Well it wasn't actually, technically a sanctioned race or anything.  It was a party the fine folks over at GSV put on annually.  I'm not sure how it works because the idea was to ride around and climb some local hills and decide the winner based on their Strava times up those hills.  The ride ended up at the top of Hummel park where there were burgers and all kinds of refreshments being served.

Before the "race" started, I heard someone say, "What's the prize for winning?"

I thought this was funny because there was no entry fee and food and drink at the end of the ride.

But the appropriate answer came back: "Ten thousand dollars."

Now I'm sure if you took a cross section of just about any group of people and put their I.Q.s up against your average group of cyclists, you'd see that there's not a lot of difference.  No one group is necessarily more intelligent than any other.

Wait - did I just say "I'm sure"?  Maybe I used to be, but not anymore.  Cyclists are stupid.

There was some mumbling along the way about that huge prize.  Some people actually believed it.  Or maybe they were just pretending to believe it to try to make me believe it.  Yeah - I'd rather think that way.

Of the people there at this Sunday morning group ride, most of the smart money was on whipper-snapper Grant Rotunda to take top honors (I'm still not convinced Rotunda is a real name - it is, however, awesome).  Others had people like Jakob Wilson and yours truly as potential favorites.

I know this because more than one person rode up to me at various points in the ride to encourage me to go for the $10,000.  Really.  I'm not lying at all.  They really did.  I would say - there is no money, but I will go for a hamburger.  Then they'd say something like - "no, the guy said ..."

Anyway, after some hills, Grant Rotunda, who was still sticking to that name, and I had a gap on the rest of the people.  Grant pulled most of the way.  The next big climb was called Llama Hill because there used to be Llamas or Alpacas or something in the yard at the top of the hill.  I don't know.  Maybe they're still there, but I haven't seen them in a while.  Just before the hill, the main group caught up to Grant and me.

At the time, I had the Strava KOM on that climb.  While we were going up the first section of the climb, Grant's chain fell off.  I felt so sorry for him, I attacked.  Jakob was right behind me.  Then he bolted up the hill and I could not keep with him.  He took my Strava KOM in the process.

After the climb, I caught up to Jakob and we worked together toward the finish - The dreaded north side Hummel climb.  While we were on a long flat section toward the park entrance, Jakob looked back and saw that Grant was behind us with the main group farther behind him.  He said we should sit up and wait.  I agreed because Grant had done most of the work and had had some misfortune.

On the last climb, I decided I was happy with 3rd and pedaled "easy" up the hill.  I had already been dropped earlier on Llama hill by Jakob. Grant was flying up Hummel.  I was tired, so.

That was my second mistake.

Had Jakob and I continued to keep Grant away (we might not have been able to - but we should have tried)- I could have assured myself 2nd place.

While I was taking it easy up the Hummel climb, I was gaining on Jakob.  Fast.  Not fast enough to catch him, but I believe he was cooked from his effort up Llama hill.  I should have given it all to beat him on that last climb.  But I didn't.

So Grant got the $10,000.

But - I had my first non time trial podium.  And even though it wasn't an actual race and some of the contestants were children, I was still happy with the result.

P.S.  I shouldn't have to say this, but I think I need to.  10 seconds ago when I said "Grant got the $10,000."  I was kidding.  There was no money.  The burgers were delicious, though.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Extra: My road race report.

Since everybody wants to read about the details of the lower category local area road races, I thought I should report on mine.

I was pretty sure I was about roughly as good as a cat 3 rider and after a couple of races in the cat 5s, I'd prove that I should just be placed up in the cat 3s.  I didn't know anything about upgrades.  I figured they probably just looked at you or something and they could tell.

There had been a crit or something already that season.  I don't remember where it was, but newcomer, cat 5 Jon Randell won it.  I had never met Jon, but his name sounded to me like he was probably pretty fat.  I was so sad that I hadn't signed up for that race because I was pretty sure I would have won and this Jon Randell character would have had to settle for second place where he deserved.  Stupid fatass I'd never met.

A couple of weeks later, there was another race I didn't do (this was in the Armstrong days.  There were lots of races without beer handups).  Jon Randell won that one.  Nebraska cycling quoted him, "That was fun.  You guys do this every year?" or something.  I thought, "It won't be so fun when I'm kicking your fat ass, Randell.  Why don't you just give up now and go race clydesdale in mountain biking?"

That was it.  I had to race.  I had already placed pretty high in RAGBRAI the year before and then bought a new LeMond Zurich with the fancy integrated brake shifter things.  I had raced the Corporate Cycling Challenge Super Serious Race on it and was pretty happy with my performance there.  There was the one guy riding on a mountain bike with jean shorts who dropped me like I was standing still, but otherwise I figured I was the fastest guy out there (at the Corporate Cycling Challenge Super Serious Race) that day.

So the first road race I signed up for was held at Branched Oaks.  It was 2 laps around the lake.  It was a calm day.  Ok, I can't keep a straight face.  It's never a calm day at the lake.

I looked around for a fat guy in an Athletic Junction Jersey, but only saw Munson and a shorter athletic looking guy.  Uh oh.

Jon Randell was nowhere near as fat as his name made him sound.

So the 18 or so cat 5 racers took off down from Lieber's point to the start of the actual racing.  As we turned onto the road heading north to make the first ascent, I was dropped.  It took 9:23 seconds for me to get dropped.  About 8 minutes of that were neutral rollout.

I rode solo  for those 2 laps as hard as I could around the course for about 2 hours (I finished 3 laps quicker Saturday).  I was too dumb to know at the time that I would not catch the group that had dropped me.  I finished.  Second to last place (of the finishers).  People said something about "at least you finished" but I didn't feel too good about it.  Nobody seemed to think I should upgrade to Cat 3 either.

I had some work to do if I was going to win my next race.  Especially after Randell had instantly lost all that weight in my mind.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Changing the world for a day

Well, not really the world.  Maybe the city.  Yeah, changing the city for a day.  Last Thursday a cyclist in the Omaha area was killed.  His name was Jim Johnston.  I didn't know him.  The details are here.

If you don't want to read it, the only thing I want to point out is that he was on the shoulder of the road when a car veered into the wrong lane and into the shoulder on the opposite side of the road it was supposed to be on and hit Mr. Johnston.

The driver was an 82 year old woman.

I have no comments directly about this tragedy.  I think of it this way: Shit happens.

There has been a lot of discussion about right and wrong.  About what the laws should be.  About how something needs to change.  About staying safe, etc.

Tempers flare and it's stupid.

When I go out for a ride, there is rarely an occasion where at least one motorist doesn't behave toward me with some sort of aggression.  It is usually just once or twice a ride.  So one or two cars out of the many hundred that go by is a small percentage.  I don't like it.  I don't think anybody should behave that way.  But surprisingly, I think the percentage of idiots driving is way higher than the percentage of motorists who put me into some kind of real danger.

I make mistakes too.  I've made several.  A moment of inattentiveness and I put myself right into danger, making the motorist react to not kill me.  And so far, the motorists have succeeded in not killing me 100% of the time.

I think cycling is safe.  I'm all for making improvements. Increasing safety and awareness and all of that.  But I don't see it as too dangerous.  You'd have to know me to know what a chicken I am.  If I ride around out there on the roads, it can't be that dangerous.  Yes - I could get killed.  Anyone could at any time.  But life isn't really about trying not to get killed.

The day after Jim Johnston was killed, I was riding to work when a jogger said "Be safe" as I passed.  I did not say what I was thinking.  I said, "Thank you."

Then I imagined that the jogger felt like she had lifted some burden from my heart - in light of the recent tragedy.  Her comment was some sort of show of solidarity.  She possibly envisioned me riding along, overcome by the emotion of her powerful advice, welling up with tears and rolling right out onto Dodge street to get splattered.

No - what I was thinking was that Johnston was "being safe."  Of course that doesn't mean I should take risks.  But "be safe" isn't enough when "shit happens."

On my ride home from work that day, I was stopped at a light.  A driver in an SUV got my attention and said, "Be Safe."

I said, "Thank you."

Then he said, "I read about that guy.  It was terrible."

I said, "And he was being safe"

He said, "But you've gotta look out for you."

Not in the mood for an argument, I said something like "I know, right?"

After I got home and was telling Jill about these incidents, she said, "Maybe this tragedy will make people think a little bit about the way they drive around bikers."

I understand that thinking.  But we've all seen accidents like this before.  After a little while, everybody forgets about it and the hostility returns to normal levels.

"Nothing will change,"  I said.  "People will just do what they've always done and I'll try to stay out of their way."

Thankfully, we do have a little reprieve from the same old shit until the memory of Jim Johnston fades from the community's consciousness.

In fact, just 2 days after his tragic death, I was heading out to "Joe Friel my ass up a shit-ton of hills"*.  It was a frosty Saturday morning.  I got to a 4-way stop before the motorist to my left.  He was slowing, so I went ahead.  I had the right of way.  He was not taking the same road as me.  He was not delayed.  He didn't quite come to a complete stop, but rolled and revved as if to scare me.  I'm pretty sure he was thinking I should have let him go first for some reason.

He rolled down his window and shouted "I hope you die, fag!"

Had Jim Johnston's accident not happened, I don't think death would have been on the insult table.

I thought - I guess Jill was right.  People have changed.  Normally, He would just have said, "Get off the road, fag!"  not even talking about his wish for me to be dead.

I don't believe he really hopes I die.  Maybe he does.  Maybe whenever he perceives that his life has somehow been interrupted, he wants the source of that interruption to not exist anymore.

Ultimately he will get his wish.  I will die.  Everybody does.  Since he didn't provide a timeline, I can only assume he meant he hopes I eventually die.  He hopes I won't just go on living forever like some sort of immortal homosexual.

But here's the truth.  I hope he dies, too.  Actually, I hope he's already dead.  And I hope it was painful and he suffered for hours.  Not only that, I don't care anything about his personal life or if he loves or is loved.  I just want him dead and with good reason.  He said something mean to me.  Waah.

Fuckin' idiots.


* Joe Friel my ass up a shit-ton of hills:  Joe Friel is the writer of  The Cyclist's Training Bible.  As far as I know, it is the most trusted source for how to train properly.  It comes with all kinds of terms and training programs that I just have never been able to make any sense out of.  I get confused when I try to follow anything he says to do.  But I want to seem legit to my collegues, so I bluff.  I just invoke his name like I'm doing something specific.  So if it's a hilly ride, I say "Friel says hills."  If it's a commute, "Friel says I need to carry about 20 lbs. on my back today," etc.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Slice

Note:  Earlier this week, a friend pointed out that last week's post was problematic in terms of my "style."  The complaint was that the post had a beginning, middle and logical end.  It had plot, form and blah blah blah.  I aim to correct that here, and hope that sort of thing does not happen in future posts.  I apologize for last week.  Here you go:

Not even to the first tee yet, and navigating the carts was already a challenge.  Another day in paradise for The Wallington Foursome.

Ed Wallington, former big fancy CEO was retired on the strength of a lifetime of severance packages.  He was the leader of the four vacationing executives.  Their seven day golf tour took place every February.  It was nice to get away from all the boring lounging around at the country club.  

They'd been coming to this island resort for 5 years now.  It was their favorite.

Joe Sharpe was Ed's best pal and Ed's wary golf cart passenger.

"You got this, Ed?"  Joe laughed, hanging on to the roof handle as Ed swerved, knocking over a bucket of driving range balls.  

"I'm fine.  The day I can't handle a couple Bloody Marys ..."

"Here's your turn, Ed,"  Joe said, just in time for Ed to miss the turn, over-correct,  and sideswipe the sign pointing the way to the tee box.

Driving the cart behind them was Ed's half brother Rocky with Ed's son, Eddy, the 53 year old "semi-retired" heir to Ed's fortune.    

"Hey uncle Rock - looks like dad's already wasted," Eddy said, hoping.  The boy had never beaten his dad.  He'd come close, but the old man had a way of intimidating Eddy into choking away the lead.  But with Dad already hammered, Eddy felt good about his chances.  

"I wouldn't get my hopes up, Jr.  Your old man's a cagey son-of-a-bitch.  He always seems to "miraculously" sober up when there's a buck on the line.  You can't count him out."

By "a buck", Rocky meant "a thousand bucks."  That was the price to play each hole as a member of the Wallington Foursome.  This was Eddy's first year.  The previous regular, "Fat Bill," was unable to make it due to a scheduling conflict with mortality.

Winner of the hole takes $1000 from each of the others.  Ties are carried over and so on.

The first $1000 was wagered on the tee flip.  The foursome stood in a circle while one of them tossed a tee into the air to land at their feet.  Whoever the tee pointed to got the honors and won the first $3000.

It was usually Ed for some reason and today was no exception.

"This must be my lucky day. Again,"  said Ed, as he collected the cash from his grumbling buddies.  He stumbled over to the cart and grabbed his 3-wood.  Hole #1 is long par 3, slightly dogleg left with a beautiful cliff side view of the ocean on the right.

"Dad - are you sure you're ok?"  Eddy had seen his dad drunk many times.  He'd never seen him so red in the face or out of breath.  Maybe age was finally getting to the old man.  Or maybe it was as uncle Rocky said, some kind of ruse.

"You know goddamn well - I'm fine," shouted Ed.  Then, pausing momentarily to catch his breath,  "After I drive this green, You're gonna wish your little snot nose was as alright as mine!"

This brought chuckles from Joe and Rock.  Eddy crossed his arms and stared at his dad.  He hated being called "snot nose."  Just another way the old man could get under his skin.  

Ed approached the tee box with a drunken air of confidence.  He tossed his cigar to the ground and bent over to pluck a few blades of grass, lift them high and let them fall to determine the speed and direction of the breeze.  A slight blowing from the left was exactly what Ed hoped for.  He nodded with satisfaction.  Ed's swing fault caused a slight hook that was perfect for this hole.  He knew the others all tended to fade or slice.  It would be much more challenging for them to get anywhere near the green.

Ed addressed the ball and began to swing but stopped.  A tightening in his chest.  Probably nothing.  Maybe slow down on the drinking for a couple of holes.  He took a moment to recover as Eddy looked over to each of the others to see if he could detect any concern.  They nodded to Eddy to assure the kid the old man was fine.

When he felt ok to continue, Ed took a mammoth swing at the ball.  He knew as his hips thrust toward the target, this was going to be a monster.  Then as his lax arms followed the path his professionally trained body had carved out, a spiky steel clamp clenched his chest.  He lost composure and his hands lost feeling.

The last thing he saw was his Titlist Pro V1 slicing wickedly over the ocean side cliff and his 3-wood tumbling after it, bouncing end over end across the right rough and over the edge of the cliff.

Raucous laughter was immediately followed by shouts and a bunch of fat old executive assholes mourning the loss of their dear, dear friend.  Ed Wallington was dead of a massive coronary event at the age of 78.

Eddy's earlier desire to beat his dad was replaced with guilt so powerful, he wouldn't golf again until later that day. 


"Wake up, bum.  Hey Nate buddy.  Wake up.  You won the lottery again!"

Nate Keeler was also retired.  Nate Keeler also drank in the morning.  Not Bloody Marys, though. Usually a rum based drink with some citrus in it "for Vitamin C".  Also, Nate didn't golf. He did, however,  live next to a golf course.

Nate did his drinking exclusively at "The Slice."  A great little bar and pizza joint situated right on the beach and backing up against the bottom of the cliff that plateaued  above at the first tee of the island resort golf course.  A long par 3, slightly dogleg left.

It was also Nate Keeler's lucky day.  For the third time since he'd started coming to "The Slice" he'd hit "The Lottery," a daily promotion at the restaurant.  "Get Balled or Get Screwed!"  was the subtitle/slogan of the Bar/Restaurant.

Nate always sat outside in his lucky chair at his lucky table.  The Lottery prize was that Louis would cover your ticket.  Free food and drink for the day.  Louis hated it when Nate won because Nate was Louis's thirstiest customer.

Louis also feared for Nate's health.  Not so much his liver as his head.  Sure, Nate drank way too much liquor, but as a result of his insistence to go for the "free lunch," Nate had already suffered a concussion and a hairline fracture to his left radial bone.

This third time, Louis wasn't sure Nate was going to wake up at all.

This was also the first time Louis had seen it happen.  He was sitting with Nate.  Nate was eating a slice of Louis's world famous breakfast pizza and washing it down with a double Captain and O.J.  when it happened.

"So what's on the agenda today Nate.  Drinking perhaps?  A little surfing later on?"

"You better believe it, Ramrod!"  Nate always called Louis 'Ramrod.'  Nobody knew why.

"I'm gonna get my check today, get the board outta h..."  Konk!

Louis, who'd been barely listening, happened to glance up at Nate just in time to see a nice new Titleist Pro V1 bounce off the side of Nate's head.  Louis flinched.  Nate stopped chewing, dropped his slice of pizza and slammed his head on the table before falling to the ground.

And that was how you win the lottery.  Wayward golf balls regularly pelted Louis's property.  Most folks had the sense to eat on the other side of a net Louis had put up.  But for the daring, if a ball hit you or your table, your bill was on the house.  This is why Nate kept coming back.

"How long was I out this time,"  Nate said as he sat up to his elbows and lifted a hand to rub the knot already forming on his skull.

"I have it at 12 minutes.  A new record for you.  Listen Nate, you gotta stop ..."

"Louis, if you really cared, you'd just give me my food and drink without making me get nailed with golf balls."

"That's true, Nate."  Louis said as he went back inside to clean up some dishes.

Nate then looked up toward the direction of the first tee box.  It could not be seen from his vantage point.  He tipped his glass to the unseen golfer in thanks for the free food and drink.  "May your luck be as good as mine today,"  Nate wished the late Ed Wallington.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Fast Food Psycho

Roughly once a week, I get fast food for breakfast.  Chick-fil-a is the only place I go. The Magnificent Spicy Chicken Breakfast Burrito is the only thing I get.

I dine in.  I don't drive-thru.  I take a book to read so I can enjoy my Magnificent Spicy Chicken Breakfast Burrito while I read.

By the way, It's just called "Spicy Chicken Breakfast Burrito" but it is magnificent.

There is rarely anyone else at Chick-fil-a in the morning.  If there is, it is this one Christian family.  No kidding. They have a minivan and 6 kids.  They are solemn.  They pray over their food.  All 8 of them eat their breakfast in silence.

It makes me happy that Chick-fil-a sticks to its ultra conservative Christian ideals so I can enjoy my Magnificent Spicy Chicken Breakfast Burrito and read my book in monasterial calm.

 At McDonald's I'd surely have to contend with the hullabaloo of all the little sinner boys and girls.  Oh yeah - and McDonald's food is shit.    

But this morning I knew something at Chick-fil-a was amiss.  I drove into the parking lot and saw half a dozen cars waiting at the drive-thru.  I would never expect more than 2.  So either there was a problem or the secret is out on the Magnificent Spicy Chicken Breakfast Burrito.

Also, there was a car parked in the lot.  Unusual.   It wasn't the Christian minivan.

I stopped my car, took a deep breath, and considered skipping breakfast.  I decided that since I had my book, I could wait for my food while they sorted out whatever their problem was.

I just about changed my mind when I set foot inside.  It was all wrong.

There were no employees in sight.  Most days, a cheery cashier is at my beck and call the instant I enter, eager to wish me a "blessed day."

I stood there assessing the scene.  In front of the cash register was a half empty soda cup with a chewed up straw sticking out of a cracked plastic lid.  The only person in sight was a customer.  He was on the same side of the counter as me, but at the far end.  He was the cup's owner.

No employee came to take my order.  I heard them in the kitchen. They were not paying any attention to me or the line of cars at the drive-thru.  There was arguing.  Panic maybe.

I approached the register to get somebody's attention.  As I did, the man at the end of the counter bolted toward the soda cup.  I figured he was going to move it so I could stand at the register.  He looked at me and I said, "Morning," but he did not reply.  He walked up to the cup, left it there and walked back to the other end.

The message was clear.  Nobody orders until I get my food.  And stay away from my cup.  That's my cup.

Then Lorna came out from the back.  Lorna works there.  I didn't know her name was Lorna until she walked toward the register to take my order.  Before she got there Dave said, "Hey Lorna.  You know what I think would be good on that burrito?  Two slices of tomato.  I've never had it that way before, but I think with all the other things you're adding, tomatoes would make it perfect."

I didn't know his name was Dave until Lorna said in a voice barely above a whisper, "Yes Dave.  That is an excellent idea."

She kept a wary eye on Dave as she backed through the kitchen door to explain Dave's latest amendment.  Dave gave me an angry look and began pacing from his soda cup to the far end of the counter.  He was clenching and releasing his hands as he paced.

At last Lorna came out and told Dave that if he'd kindly have a seat, she could bring his special order out to him just as soon as it was ready.

Dave paused.  He squinted at me, then glanced at his cup, then at Lorna.  Lorna smiled.  Her eyebrows so high, it had to be some kind of trick with mirrors.

Dave acquiesced, grabbed his cup, throwing me a warning glance as he passed by and stomped off to a table somewhere behind me.

Then Lorna took my order.  I noticed that the line of cars was now moving.  Things seemed to be getting back to normal.

I sat down to read while I waited for my Magnificent Spicy Chicken Breakfast Burrito.  But I couldn't concentrate. I looked up to see Dave staring at me.  A snarled lip.  I don't know what his problem was, but I turned my back to him and was sort of able to begin reading.

About 5 seconds later, Lorna came out with a tray.  I didn't pay any attention, because surely this was the food Dave had been waiting for for God knows how long.  The breakfast to end all breakfasts, stop a line of cars and turn poor old Dave into a seething madman.

Nope.  It was for me.  I didn't dare look back at Dave.

It was embarrassing, but certainly not my fault.  Clearly, Dave had a gripe, but with Lorna, not me, right?

I flipped my foil wrapped burrito over to peel off the sticker.  Hmm.  That's weird.  Normally, the sticker says "spicy."  This one said "special"

I think you can see where this is headed.

Oblivious, I took a huge bite out of the burrito and was surprised to find that

1) The Chicken was not spicy
2) There were lots of crazy ingredients in this burrito, including 2 slices of tomato
3) It was the most delicious breakfast burrito in the whole wide world.

As I was enjoying my first bite of Dave's Burrito, Lorna came up with a plain old boring Spicy Chicken Breakfast Burrito.  She apologized to me, told me to keep both burritos and to have a blessed day.

This put me in such an awkward position I was forced to stand up, walk over to Dave and stab him  in the throat with a plastic butter knife.

I then went on a rampage and slaughtered everyone in the Chick-fil-a while the Christian minivan family praised the lord that even though a flat tire prevented them from their beloved Chick-fil-a today, father had skillfully repaired the flat and they were up and running again.  Chick-fil-a could wait until tomorrow.

And that's the story of the Fast Food Psycho.