Friday, January 11, 2008

A plastic fork situation

Today started bad, but it did improve. It began with a trip to the East Village Albertson's, where I meticulously constructed a salad from the salad bar, only to find the bar had no plastic forks. I brought the salad up to the deli where a young man said the deli was out of forks, too. When I suggested he check in the back or something, he sighed and said maybe I could just use a spoon? It was my first time using coercion in a grocery store setting. The now unhappy young man went away and returned with a fork.

I drove around for several minutes to find a good place to park and eat. I rarely eat in a restaurant; I prefer to get food to go and then eat in the car. This lets me avoid screaming brats, uncomfortable chairs and any other problems with dining in. If I'm near a beach, I'll watch the ocean while eating.

Parking and eating is not as simple as it sounds. The East Village is the homeless capital of San Diego, and I don't want to be pestered for money by some rancid smelling guy every three minutes while I'm eating and, on principle, I don't contribute to anybody's Listerine fund. I'm not wholly without a heart for the downtrodden, but I'm pretty sure getting drunk on mouthwash is a bad idea. I could just drive to another neighborhood, but I'm hungry, and would rather deal with a little bum avoidance than wait a long time to eat. Also, if I park on a busy street, people will ask me for rides, which is usually a good thing, but not when I'm eating. After a while I settled on a good spot, parked, reclined the seat, turned on the stereo, and put the windows down.

No plastic fork.

Ladies and gentlemen, I nearly lost control of myself. Ever have a rage attack? After the pains I took to get a fork, it had simply vanished. How the hell could that happen? Could it possibly be any more difficult to just eat a meal? I know it wasn't entirely rational to get that mad, but boy was I mad. I actually had to wipe spittle from the steering wheel, and I said a few things that would have gotten a bar of Irish Spring stuffed in my mouth if I'd uttered them 25 years ago.

After the anger subsided (a little), I went to one of the East Village 711s to get one (and what a plague on society these 711s are). They didn't have any -- only spoons and knives. It started to feel like a fork conspiracy.

I asked the kid at the counter if he had any forks, and he gestured to the rack containing the spoons and knives, so I had to explain there were no forks. It wasn't good enough for the chubby little whelp, so he went and checked, then came back and announced they don't have any. For the second time in less than an hour I had to suggest to a slacker that perhaps a teensy weensy bit of extra effort might be in order. He restated that they don't have forks. I said to him: "That's two punks in one day," and stormed out.

For some reason, I was really angry. Irrationally angry, I'll admit. When I got to my car, which was conveniently in view of the large windows of the 711, I threw the whole salad, plastic container and all, onto the sidewalk and sped away. I would have to go hungry because it's too much trouble for people to get me a fork, and when I do succeed in that, it mysteriously disappears anyway.

I got to our taxi zone around 4:30 p.m., later than I like. Still angry, I posted up on a cab stand, got out and decided to have a cigarette to relax a bit. No lighter. No matches. No flint or tinder, for that matter. For the first time, I tried the car's cigarette lighter, and it doesn't work. I'm a longtime smoker and for no good reason I left home with no fire! Geez. Ask any smoker how it feels to be jonesing for a cigarette and to be without any means of lighting up. I was third in line, which is too close to first place for me to leave and get a lighter. I could miss a $25 run and I need that even more than I need lung cancer.

Soon car 70 pulls up behind me, a good guy. He asked what my black mood was about, so I explained the fork conspiracy, and the more recent fire conspiracy. He laughed and opened his glove box. There were several plastic forks, some ketchup and salt and pepper packets, some soy sauce packets, napkins, and a book of matches that seemed to be gleaming and practically calling my name. What a guy 70 is. Always prepared.

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