“Fast” Food

corn dogs 0919

See if you find anything incongruous here: after eating our lunch at Sonic, Lynn and I went to the health food store.

I would just like to say that our fast-food visits in Gunnison are incongruent with those we make in Montrose.

[I looked up both words, and the definition of “incongruent,” according to Merriam-Webster, is “not congruent.” But there was no discussion of whether use of these two words is congruous or not.]

I have never had a bad experience at the A&W in Montrose. The staff is always pleasant and professional, the restaurant is clean, and the hamburgers always make me think of the early Pat’s days when Bob and I (and sometimes Fred and/or John) would pick up hamburgers at the A&W that no longer exists and take them clear across town to Legion Park, where we would eat while playing the card game Alien Hotshots.

The Montrose A&W is paired with a Long John Silver’s, which is the food Lynn prefers, and when we were there last week they apologized that her food would take five minutes to prepare. The young woman who waited on us asked how our food was while she was out tidying the dining area, and when I complimented the staff, she said she had worked there when she was 15, tried other things, and was now back because she enjoys the job so much.

Let’s contrast that with a visit we made awhile back to the new Arby’s in Gunnison. We went inside, because two trips through the drive-through were enough to convince us of the folly of that (the order is never right, and we rarely remember to check while we’re still near the restaurant), where the staff was overwhelmed and a woman we took to be the general manager was completely disintegrating right before the customers.

They had more customers than the staff was managing, and instead of letting everyone know they were backed up and she was very sorry for the delay, the manager just kept shrieking at her staff, pulling each person off whatever they were doing to do something else and then screaming because the originals tasks weren’t getting done. It wasn’t particularly inspirational, although it was a textbook example of how not to manage people.

We did go back, recently, and noticed a new name under “general manager” on the door.

After we left A&W in Montrose the other day, we stopped at Burger King for the Impossible Whoppers —

[I never got much of a pronouncement from the Pat’s staff. Kara still thinks they’re great, even cold, and Lynn liked hers a lot, but I keep forgetting to ask everyone else what they thought.]

— and the staff there was also quite nice. Again we had someone, a manager I think, apologize as he told us we would have to wait three or four minutes for our order. While we were waiting, probably more than four minutes but not by much, I could see why he apologized, because everyone else was getting their food less than a minute after ordering. We also had an employee stop and hope we were having a good day and thanks for coming to Burger King.

Which brings us to Sonic today. We have more food than we could hope to eat here at the house, but I got up early to go officiate volleyball without eating a whole lot, and while I brought some food with me, it wasn’t looking as good as the doughnuts at the concession stand. I bypassed those as well, but as our fourth and final match was starting, Mary the athletic director brought the clock-keeper (a college boy, and you know they’re always hungry) a corn dog, and it looked so darn good I decided I wanted one for lunch. Probably even two.

I haven’t eaten corn dogs in years, perhaps because as actual food they fail, but that’s what was in my head, and once I mentioned it to Lynn she wanted one too. Which is how we got to Sonic, because I knew they were on the menu there. (I used to get them at the same A&W that burned down many years ago.)

We pulled up to one of the car-hop stalls, but I couldn’t compete with the noise of the highway, so a nice young woman came out to take our order. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Fifteen minutes we waited. This is not fast food.

I used the call button, but they still couldn’t hear me, although perhaps my aggrieved tone reached through. A male voice promised to “be right out.” And we waited. And waited.

I doubt very much that corn dogs have to be made. I’m pretty sure they get pulled out of some box in the freezer and warmed up. I’m not sure why our order required half an hour of preparation.

And although I just read that you shouldn’t take your unhappiness out of your server’s tip, I kept putting dollars back into our wallet as the minutes ticked past. We were at a 10 percent tip when a man brought food and gave us a quick apology. It did turn out, long after he left, that our bag contained two extra corn dogs.

I don’t know if this has something to do with the “help wanted” signs hanging in every food establishment in Gunnison, both those professing to be fast and those that make no such claim but still generally manage to bring you food without needing half an hour to do so. But I don’t really understand why fast food seems to be a more jovial proposition in Montrose than it does here.

After overdosing on corn dogs — I could be good for another decade or more — we did in fact point the car toward our regular Saturday stop at the health food store. I have been a dismal farmers’ market shopper this summer, but I have managed to make my milk run every Saturday afternoon at Gunnison Vitamin and Health Food.

I buy, weekly, a gallon of milk from a dairy out of Olathe (just that side of Montrose), some rice (90 seconds, remember), some apples, usually bread or bagels from Mountain Oven, which used to be in Crested Butte but now hails from Paonia, and a piece of dark chocolate for Lynn. Peppermint oil when we have issues with ants (also good for digestion, particularly after a meal of french fries and three corn dogs).

I am not a big spender, but I am consistent. Congruent, perhaps.

And I ought to get some points for spending more time at the health food store than I generally do at fast food establishments. If we use the word “fast” loosely, since the “fast” food took an hour of my day and the “health food” needed five minutes. There’s a lesson in that, I’m sure.

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