“Don’t worry about it. I’ll go.”
If there’s one fault in life that I have it is that I am far too accommodating for my own good. I am too much the nice guy to let the chance to do a favor pass by. This is especially true for my parents, considering that whole raising me and putting me through school thing I think that when something needs to be done for them then I need to hop to it and do it. I should really develop a sixth sense for when that niceness can go wrong.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll go”
But really what can go wrong? This task was simple and I really don’t care much for my parents driving after nightfall because they are the kind of drivers that I scream at when I’m on the roads. So not only am I looking out for my parents by running an errand for them, I’m actually doing the local citizens a favor by keeping them in the house.
The Mission: Obtain dinner from KFC for the Parental Units and Grandmother
The Goal: Two piece dinner for Mom, Two piece dinner for Granny, Chicken Strips for Dad
The Location: Decatur, GA (cue dramatic music and lightning flashes)
Okay, I know, it’s Decatur and it’s a calculated risk but again, this is a favor for the parents. At the time it was just before 7pm, I was to meet some friends downtown at 7:30 but there would be plenty of time to grab dinner, deliver it to my family and get downtown to rendezvous with my people. In theory it worked perfectly; but in reality considering my run-ins with other establishments in town and coupled with my bad luck all together with fried chicken it would be a train wreck.
I pulled into the parking lot at about 7:10, right on schedule, and headed to the front door where, surprisingly the line wasn’t that long, only about 4-5 people deep at this point. After stepping inside the joint I see the usual fare, sagging jeans, Atlanta Braves caps in every color, the guy in front of you in line that smells like he’s been smoking something illegal, nothing out of the ordinary except for the inordinate amount of people in the dining area. Some were milling about on their cell phones while others were sitting at tables talking, all without food in their possession and all with an unmistakable scowl on their faces. Just when I was wondering to myself what was happening over there the person ahead of me a few spots orders. Here’s the exchange:
Customer: I need a 3-piece dinner with a breast and two wings with cole slaw and…
Cashier: It’s 16-18 minutes on that breast, wings are about 5 minutes out
Customer: How many minutes you say for a breast?
Cashier: 16-18 minutes.
Customer: Man…this some BULL****!! It don’t take that long for chicken to cook!
Cashier: All those people are waiting for their chicken too; they have to get theirs first.
Turns out that the people scowling and milling about are people that have been waiting for their chicken to finish cooking and based on the frequency of their watch checking the natives were growing quite restless. There wasn’t another KFC for miles so I had to stick this one out. It’s now 7:17, no shot at being on time with my friends downtown; a Chrisette Michelle song hit on the store’s speakers so I sang a little to myself while people lost their minds over chicken.
Customer in Line: I need to speak to a manager.
Cashier: He will only tell you the same thing that I told you, sir.
Customer in Line: Well, something needs to be done.
Cashier: We’re cooking the chicken as fast as we can…
All the while I sing along with Chrisette as she sang about seeing a former lover in the street with a new love. By the time the chorus kicked in a man in baggy skinny jeans and a wannabe platinum chain approached the counter and inquired loudly. “What’s up with the chicken…it’s been 15 minutes! What’s going on, man!”
The cashier who was still trying to explain to the customer in line that the manager couldn’t make the chicken cook any faster turned her attention to her new problem and replied, “It will be ready shortly, sir.”
“It’s been 15 minutes!”
“I’m sorry for the wait, sir. Can I offer you a drink while you wait?”
“You can offer me my chicken!”
“Sir, your chicken will be ready in a moment, would you like a drink?”
“I’m hungry, that drink ain’t gonna help me out!”
Meanwhile I’m steadily singing along with Chrisette and noting the emergency exit 15 feet to my immediate right in case this gets out of hand.
At this point the manager made the mistake of coming out of the little manager hatch that he was holed up in wearing his little blue manager button down shirt with KFC embroidered on the right and keyring with hundreds of keys to goodness knows what. The new problem turns his attention to the manager now.
“Hey, I know you’re the manager, man. What’s up on my chicken?
“I apologize for the wait, sir. It’s going to be just another moment.”
“All she offered me was a drink, you can’t do no betta than that?”
“Look, there’s a piece of chicken right there, that drumstick, let me have that.”
“Sir, I can’t do that.”
And he probably COULD have done that but you KNOW if he gave that one guy a complimentary “I apologize for the inconvenience” drumstick everybody in there was going to ask for one. Including me, likely. Chrisette has finished singing now, the notes of her lost love song trailing into silence and what comes on next? OutKast. No Luther Vandross, no watered down jazz from Kenny G, but OutKast. There’s nothing like a little southern rap music to fuel the ire of a hungry man wanting his chicken.
“Man, the drumstick is right there. I’m in here 25 minutes…” – exaggeration – “and I can’t get no drumstick for my trouble? Y’all wrong as hell, man!”
“Would you like the drink, sir?”
“Hell, naw! I don’t want the drink. Keep your drink.”
It’s 7:26. I’ve ordered at this point and sitting with the rest of the gang in the waiting area as we sipped on our free beverages. I would like to say that I was enjoying the next song that was playing over the store speakers but the sounds of frustrated customers both inside the store and coming in from the drive thru window was drowning them out. The line was about 10 deep now, all with arms folded rocking back and forth from heel to toe and back again. Each time the cashier giving the ETA for golden brown fried chicken and having to explain herself…
“No, we didn’t run out of chicken and have to go to the store to get more.”
“No, we’re not just being lazy
“No, it’s not taking so long because we have to pluck the chickens.”
…before, finally, my number was called at 7:37. I’m officially 7 minutes late from meeting at the hangout and easily 2 adult beverages behind but none of that matters right now because I’ve got my chicken. I really didn’t even care if the order was right to be honest. They could have just handed me three warm boxes filled with rocks and I would have run out of there all the same. The young worker extended the bag toward me and said “Sorry for the wait, God bless you” to which I replied, “No, God bless YOU. You need it more than I do with these characters in here.” He grinned a little and headed back to his station.
At 7:52 I unlocked my parents’ door and entered with the chicken to which Mom quips, “We were about to send a search party out for you. Everything alright?”
I could only manage a nod as I dropped the sack filled with what I hoped to be the correct order on the kitchen counter.
My dad entered the kitchen fumbling for his box in the sack and said, “Tough night at the chicken house, huh?”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
“I’m pretty sure I do. Thanks though.” Then he left the room with the prized box of chicken strips in his possession.
At 8:13 I was at the bar ordering “the strongest rum and coke you can legally pour, please”. Next time, the parents go themselves.
~thanks for reading. 🙂
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