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U Crash, I HOP by Ray Printer Friendly

It’s bedtime, boys and girls. I’ve probably got just enough time to tell a bedtime story, so I’ll tell it, if you’re willing to listen.

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I had a store meeting the other day. Generally what I do at store meetings is, I sit there next to one of my co-workers (I won’t mention her name, since I feel like this story needs an air of mystery to it) and we make witty little comments about the corporate insanity that is spewed at us for the hour and a half it takes for the meeting to end. Oddly, we didn’t do much of that at this particular meeting. This meeting was about how our company has decided that the best way to stay in business is by asking the opinions of the poor bastards who are actually down in the trenches. Apparently, a bunch of corporate monkeys sitting in some board room a million miles away finally realized that they don’t understand about a lot of the day-to-day activities that can make or break a company. Weird.

I left the meeting a little…something. I don’t know what it was, actually. I wouldn’t ever go so far as to say something like “uplifted,” but it was an odd and entirely new feeling. Like maybe the company I worked for wasn’t just going to crash and burn at any second. It still might—who am I to say?—but at least it didn’t feel like it. It’s a hard thing to go to work with any kind of enthusiasm when you feel like at any time, some repo guys are going to walk in and start nailing two-by-fours across the door, going, “Yeah, Fat Tony owns this place now, and he wants you all out in ten minutes or we break your legs.”

But that’s not what my story is about.

But I felt okay when I left the meeting. As opposed to how I usually feel after store meetings, which is bloated and gassy from having so much smoke blown up my ass.

I swung by the house and gathered up my princess—we had a date at IHOP. Yeah, man, I know that the International House Of Pancakes isn’t the most romantic date in the history of mankind, but there’s something really nice about picking up your true love and taking her to breakfast and knowing that you get to spend the rest of the day with her, you know? Like maybe you’ll both eat until you get all full and tired, and then you’ll end up just coming back home and passing out in front of the TV, essentially pissing away your day off. But even if that’s all you’re going to do, you’re with this girl that you’re in mad love with, and whatever you do, you do it with her and it will be wonderful. Incidentally, that’s not what we did at all, but that’s not the story, either.

What’s the story is this:

We get to IHOP, we pull into the parking lot, and it’s insane with traffic. I don’t know what the hell, man, but it seems like when they built Austin, they forgot that people would be getting around. The public transportation sucks balls, the highways are deathtraps, and there’s no place to park. Like you have this entire street full of bars with live music, and they give you two parking spots. Or there’s some huge music festival, seating for a thousand, and they have a parking lot the size of a McDonald’s. Or you go to IHOP and they give you just enough to park about eighteen cars, provided that none of these cars ever need to move again.

We pull into the parking lot, just behind this gigantic black truck. I can actually see right under this guy’s truck while I’m sitting in my car, that’s how big it is. Okay, that was a little exaggeration. I mention the fact that I exaggerated just now because the rest of this story is going to be told without any more of that. This is just how it happened, without any literary flourishes to make the story more exciting.

So we’re behind this big black truck, right? It stops right in front of the door, and just stays there. A real asshole thing to do, now that I think about it. At the time, though, I didn’t think about it—you don’t pull into the IHOP parking lot if you’re in a hurry to be anywhere. He waits there for about a minute, maybe a minute and a half. “Should I go around him?” I ask my princess. “Is he…what is he doing, you think?” She tells me to just hang on, maybe he’s waiting for someone to back out.

Then a girl runs out of the place, she runs not quite up to the truck and yells, “They say it’s gonna be fifteen or twenty minutes.” I couldn’t hear what the driver said, but I figure he’s okay with that, because the girl runs back inside. So the truck moves forward some, but by then, there’s this little gold-colored car in front of him. I don’t know where the little gold car came from, honestly—I figured they had pulled into one section of the parking lot, realized there was no parking there, and pulled back out.

The gold car, it’s driving real slow, checking for parking spots all over the place. The thing about this particular IHOP is, the parking lot is so small that lots of the patrons actually park out on this little service road behind the restaurant. You’ll see people pulling up onto the grass, into mud puddles, whatever. The gold car was about to pull out onto that service road when suddenly a car started backing out of one of the grass parking places.

So the gold car waits. The guy backing up, he takes forever, I don’t know why—getting all full of pancakes and grease, it can seriously impair your backing ability, apparently. So we’re waiting: my princess and I, the black truck in front of us, and the gold car that’s waiting for a parking place. The guy in the black truck, he gets all pissy, I guess, and starts pulling forward, even though the gold car isn’t moving. Once, twice, three times. “Is he going to hit that gold car?” I ask.

“No, surely not,” My princess tells me, but the look on her face says that maybe she’s not so sure about all that. The gold car inches forward, and the black truck is right there.

Finally the parking spot is open, and the gold car moves forward, turning into the space. It’s an old guy and what I presume is his wife in the gold car, and he’s seriously creeping. I mean, this guy is going SLOW. But what the hell, right? We have a twenty minute wait before we can get a table, anyways.

So as the old guy is pulling into the spot, the back end of his car still taking up most of the road, the guy in the black truck decides to go. Not in a nice way, either. He just goes, swinging around the back of the gold car, even though there isn’t nearly enough room, and rams the shit out of the old guy. It looked like something out of a movie, man.

The truck didn’t hit him dead on, but it was a hell of a side-swipe. The back fender of the truck slammed into the back of the gold car, and then just kept going. It was painful to watch, but amazing. Because it wasn’t any accident, you know? Like an infant just sitting around and playing with those multi-colored blocks where one is a triangle and the hole is a circle, and they try to figure out what goes where, even that kid could have seen that there was no way for that truck to squeeze through. Oh, yeah, I said I wasn’t going to exaggerate, didn’t I? Okay, so maybe the infant couldn’t tell, but anyone old enough to drive a car could. Because there wasn’t room.

The guy in the black truck, he pulled into a parking space a little further down, the gold car guy parked where he had been trying to park, and my princess and I went around the block, hoping to catch a better parking place the next time around.

We found one, by the way—just as we were pulling back into the parking lot, a car backed out of the spot right in front of the door. “That’s handicapped, isn’t it?” I asked. “That’s got to be handicapped.”

“I don’t think it…no, I don’t think so…No! No, it’s a real spot!” You’ll never understand the elation in her voice until you’ve been in a city where parking was never, ever, ever a consideration. To get a parking spot right in front of the door, man, that’s like killing the white whale, mounting it up on the wall, and serving the meat at Thanksgiving dinner…to take a Moby Dick metaphor entirely too far.

So we’re in line, after our short walk from the car to the door, and I’m all kinds of accident curious. “What was that all about?” “What the hell was going on with that guy in the black truck?” “Can you believe that guy, just ramming that other guy?”

And then a cell phone rings. I ignore it—cell phones ring all the time. And then my princess goes, “That’s his girl.” I look up, just in time to see the girl with the pink shirt—the one who told the black truck guy that it would be a fifteen to twenty minute wait—answer her phone. And then her mouth drops open and just hangs there.

“Damn,” I say, “How’s that for ruining your Sunday morning breakfast?”

We wait. Lots of mundane shit going on all about us, but all I can think about is how that girl must feel.

“How do you think he told her?” I ask my princess. I’m thinking how bad it would suck to be like, “Uh, hey, baby. You know a minute ago, when you saw me in the parking lot? And I was, um, in our truck? Yeah, the big black one that looked brand new. Yeah, well I was behind this old guy, and he was driving real slow, and so I just crashed into him. What? No, it wasn’t bad accident, really. I mean, the other guy wasn’t even moving. What do you mean how could I be so stupid? Maybe you don’t understand, sweetheart: I got real mad because it was taking him so long, so I rammed the guy.” Not pleasant.

“He blamed it on the other guy,” she said. “He’s not going to tell his girlfriend that he crashed his truck because he’s an idiot who got road rage in a parking lot.”

I actually hadn’t thought of blaming the other guy until she said that, but I saw how it would work right away. “He’ll come in and be like, ‘Baby, that guy backed right into me.’”

Anyways, we got our table, and my princess is all concerned that the guy in the truck is going to lie to the cops. So I end up going out, not really expecting to be needed—I mean, it was plain as day that the guy in the black truck rammed the other guy, there’s no way he’s going to deny it, right? I mean, you tell the girlfriend one thing, tell the cops the truth, and then you even get sympathy from your chick because not only did some guy crash into you, now you even have to pay for it.

But I get out there, I tell the old man that I was right behind the truck, and if there are any discrepancies, I’ll be inside eating. Ten minutes later, the old guy is standing by the door, looking all over. As it turns out, the black truck guy decided to tell the cops that the gold car backed into him. It would be funny if it wasn’t such a tragic example of how much people suck.

Anyways, not a great story, I know. It was a weird thing to see, though. And now I have insurance companies calling me everyday. I’m always at work, though, so I haven’t talked to anyone yet.

Anyways, I’m tired. ‘Night, li’l homies.


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