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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

The Weekend Experience

Sunday
September 22, 2002

I walked into the Chick-Fil-A on 4th Street in St. Petersburg last night around 7:45 PM. My initial consideration had been to hit the drive-thru, but I had two separate orders to make (so I could get change). Amy Barnett and Gina McQueen from work sent their orders (and money) with me, as Amy was working on producing the 11 PM and Gina was handling work at the assignment desk. So I become the de facto lunch gofer.

Exhaustion was beginning to hit me at this point. Attempts to sleep Saturday morning proved unsuccessful, so I was relying on caffeine to keep me going.

There was a pretty lengthy line inside. Not :10 become I came in the side door, a couple with a kid came through the front, so they edged me for a spot in line. A line that was all the way back to the condiment table and wrapped over to the side.

Two Chick-Fil-A girls were ordering something from the left register, though at the time I couldn't tell if they were shooting the breeze or buying something or what. Caught one of them looking over at me, then the "look away real quick" thing. Why do people do that? I suppose it's human nature, cause I do it the same as anyone else. It's like you've been caught doing something wrong. Though I suppose that to keep staring at someone would come across a bit creepy.

As for the line, I've seen McDonald's with double the customer load handled much more efficiently -- we were kind of stuck in this no-mans land where it was just one line and everyone waited to be taken by the next register, whichever one that might be. Like a line at an airport ticket counter, only without the amusement-park style wraparound line.

The couple in front of me was an interesting match, a late-twenties pair where the guy had a shaved head (like me) but a ton of tattoos and what not to differentiate his look. His chick was a blonde with a streak of pink running through her hair. The kid there with them was an energetic four-year-oldish type, running around like a maniac back and forth from them to the tables in the back of the restaurant. It seemed to be his son, which I deduced by the way the kid kept bugging him "Daddy daddy daddy" etc. And he referred to the girl as "Tracy" or whatever her name was.

The line crept along very slowly. A restaurant patron came over to pick out some condiments (remember, we were blocking the condiment booth). I backed up and banged my elbow against this rather sharp corner. The guy loaded up with ketchup and napkins and what not, and jokingly warned me to look out for those sharp corners. Great, a little late there buddy. Right about this time, some older guy came in through the front door... and he walked over to the left side of Stone Cold and Pink (the couple in front of me). It was one of those awkward moments where it's a first-come, first-served type deal, but there were no clear parameters on where the line began or ended.

The no-mans land of the line was enough to convince Old Man Nutdust to go over to the side with the two Chick-Fil-A chicks. Maybe that's an advantage of getting older, the ability to feign senility in order to jump line. Felt like shouting at the guy that the line started back here, but it wasn't clear that he was there to order anything (for all I knew, he was getting the two Chick-Fil-A girls "to go", if you know what I mean). But then as our line finally moved up, he was waited on. Felt like hitting a Bill Goldberg-esque spear, but at that point I was more concerned with not losing my spot in line.

Eventually, and this took awhile, but eventually the line moved and I was able to place my two orders. The guy at the counter was maybe 16 -- I half-expect that he'd give me the "oh I have a work permit" line from Boogie Nights. Dude looked like Harry Potter. Seriously, if the producers of Harry Potter need a stand-in, go visit that Chick-Fil-A. Unfortunately the guy didn't exactly work any wizardry on my order... He ended up stiffing one of the girls' 12-packs of nuggets, only getting an 8-pack box, and he completely disregarded the cole slaw for Gina (and we had even laughed about getting a big vat of cole slaw earlier). But my attention was distracted by both the two large bags and trying to balance the mammoth three soft drinks in the holder.

Just getting to the car was a trick. The drinks hung precariously angled from the holder, defying gravity and making me wary of hitting the brakes too hard. Sleep deprivation was hitting me hard at this point. Finally made it back to the station, where as I doled out the change and the food we realized that we'd been stiffed. But what could we do -- I wasn't about to make that 10 minute drive back over, and the food wasn't going to appear out of thin air. So it goes though.

Somehow I made it to the 11, and then drove home and promptly fell asleep on the couch watching the Jennifer Lopez movie Angel Eyes (the one my bro talked with her about that crazy night at Empire in May of last year). Then I woke up long enough to take some of the amitriptalene headache medicine, and I slept up until NFL kickoff time. Then I slept some more later. Finally caught up on sleep... just another weekend in the TV news biz.


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