Monday, August 3, 2015

"Would You Like a Calculator With That?"

So I stop at a truck stop that has a Taco Bell (yeah, you're thinking "but it's bikini season, why are you eating Taco Bell?!") Hey, I've got a weakness for the Bell. It's not my fault. Besides, I normally manage to control myself and only get a burrito supreme and a soft taco. Unlike the behemoth that was in front of me.
No exaggeration here, this was his order:
A 6 pack of crunchy tacos, a double decker taco, 2 chicken quesadillas, a crunch wrap and a large soda. His total? $41.42. Because truck stop fast food joints don't have the traditional "value menu" options the stand alone stores do. This leads me to a few different issues I'd like to touch on. So here goes...

As he grudgingly handed the cashier his credit card he made it a point to say the prices were too high. I agree that a dollar menu would be nice. (Although, to be fair, he did just basically order a week's worth of groceries)
See, the way truck stops work is this: we need to eat and they know it. So they charge as much as they think they can get away with. They have restaurants in the larger ones. Those restaurants charge fairly reasonable prices. I think that's because locals also stop in there for dinner. 
Most truck stops have fast food chains of some kind in them. Since we truck drivers usually have a "grab it and go" schedule, no "value menu" options. 
Same goes with things like showers. They range from $12-14 dollars. Why? Because we need them. Trust me, that should be considered a "public safety" issue. Can you imagine someone getting out and working in the heat every day or so for 6 weeks and NOT getting a shower? It wouldn't be sexy. Need a place to park? They have a solution. More truck stops are starting to charge for overnight parking. As they fill up they also have "reserved" spots. Those are spots that run about $14 in addition to the $15 fee for using the parking lot to begin with. And with states closing down rest areas around the country the parking will just get tighter. Just the other day I received a 2 page fax, filled out my form and faxed it back. $6. Laundry? Sure, you can do laundry. It's $2.25 per small load to wash and $2.25 to dry each small load. Sometimes I'm tempted to just buy a washboard and do my laundry in the shower. Two birds, one stone. 

As for the $41 worth of food...To be honest, I took my time playing on my phone and eating once I got my order simply because I was watching the taco destruction at his table. I was pretty impressed with his ability to eat enough to  feed a small village. It was like watching Henry VIII at a feast. 
Granted, that amount of food seemed a bit extreme to me. We don't all eat that much. Could you imagine his weekly credit card bill just for food? It's like he's working just to make enough to keep himself fed. In my younger days I could put away that much food and not gain weight. But driving a truck is a sedentary lifestyle so I think this guy should be more careful with his "heart attack in a sack" but it's his arteries, not mine. 

Now ask me about my experience at the register, go ahead. A burrito supreme meal. $7.87. Not horribly expensive. I told the girl I had exact change. My mistake. I handed her a $10 bill instead. Unfortunately, she had already hit the button for "exact change". I didn't even know there WAS one! 
Boy did I screw her up. She called the manager over to try to void out the exact change option because she couldn't figure out how much change to give me. True story. 
Not having a calculator handy, the manager pulls out her phone to get to the calculator function. Really, folks?! Once we graduate we quit being able to do simple math?! I'm not saying this as an insult to fast food workers. It's the same in many fields. Admittedly, though, I can't remember a lick of that algebra they tried drilling into me in school. No, not me. Me, I've got a brain that stores information that's even MORE useless. 

Back to the one man feeding frenzy though. We live in a world of excess and America, as a country, is at the top of the list for most excessive. Especially when it comes to food. The amount of food that gets thrown away could support another country or two. Yet we have ad campaigns about the starving people here. How does this make sense? How is it we have more and more abandoned warehouses and military posts yet we have so many homeless and starving? Does this make sense to you? 
We have all kinds of dieting plans...and starving people. What the hell? Commercials to feed starving kids and little roly poly looking kids in the same neighborhoods. 

Feed the fat kids less and feed the starving kids more. Look, 2 problems solved at once. Turn the abandoned warehouses and military posts into housing for the homeless. Teach them math. Teach them to grow food.