August 10, 2005

Anything you want for $2.18

So the other day was $2.18 day at Dairy Queen. Actually, I don't think it really was, but the experience I had there was enough to convince me, at least momentarily, that we were all getting a real deal.

Let me start by saying this would be perhaps the second time in a year I've been to DQ... I don't generally do the fast food thing. But I was in a hurry, and in a moment of weakness, gave in to the cheap thrill of dessert before dinner.

The lines were horrendous- the man in front of me was clutching his son by the collar so as to refrain him from clobbering his older sister, who was leaning against the counter, smirking at him. Their mother marveled at the cost efficience of their meal, oblivious to conflict. The elderly, blueharied woman behind me was confounded by the fact that the photo of the Banana split blizzard looked more like chocolate than banana. It was as if her entire world was slowly being corrupted because of some sort of chocolate conspiracy, and now faithful Dairy Queen was among those on the dark side.

The woman behind her, overwieght and exasperated, harumphed a touch too loudly to her surprisingly thin daughter about the wait. In my irritated state, I wondered what she was in such a rush to do, (and with her proportions, how quickly she'd do it, anyway). I then silently reprimanded myself and decided, with a furtive glance at her, against the fries.

As the line slowly disintigrated in front of me, I watched the people busily dashing about behind the counter with their hats and chocolate stains on. I marveled at their fixations upon their individual tasks, as if their universe would end if the drive-through customer didn't get his extra slice of tomato on that deluxe burger- and in a hurry.

"Could I help the next person in line?"

They reminded me of brave, hurried ants scurrying, digging, hurrying with their oversized loads only to find all their work demolished in the morning after a six year old with a stick discovered their haven.


I shook my head and stepped up, apologizing to the acne-spotted teenager behind the counter for my daze. Ordering a small mint oreo blizzard and a fish sandwich (no mayo), I waited for my total.

As he worked at my order, he spoke over his shoulder at me.

"That's $2.18", please."

I, still working my way out of lala land, assumed I had misheard him. I leaned forward and craned my neck to see the total on the register. $2.18.

I, now realizing that some mistake had been made, I felt a small heavy pit in my stomach. This is one of those moments where your moral judgement is tested, I thought, with some frustration. Now I had a decision to make. I checked the menu and added up my order. It came to much more than $2.18, without tax. I rolled my eyes at the irony of the fact that I had only that much in my wallet, give or take .50, and on my income (nonexistant), that was a fortune to save.

Before I had much more of an opportunity to dwell, however, the ants had scurried up to the counter with my order, which had metamorphisized as they were out of mint, leaving me stuck with plain Oreo. I felt myself smile sheepishly at the continued irony of it all, and handed over my two bills and quarter. As I stepped out of the way so that the orders could go on, I watched the old woman (so worried about the chocolate in her frozen treat) inquire about the ingredients of the bannana split blizzard. I fingered the .07 in my hands and turned towards the door. Just before I reached it, however, I heard the boy at the register addresses the bluehair.

"that's $2.18, please. Thank you."

I smiled, and pushed out into the rain.

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