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Monday, April 18, 2005

Neither here nor there

A note on fast food

For a long time now, I’ve observed a pretty strict no–fast food policy. The last time I ate crap like Burger King with any regularity was the first couple weeks that I lived in California, in 1993. Oh, and I ate Wendy’s sporadically when I first moved to Oakland in 1994. Since then, I could count the fast food meals on one hand, and probably have a finger or two to spare.

Well, that changed again when I first moved over here to San Hose. Not knowing a lot of dining options in the neighborhood, a nearby Wendy’s provided a quick meal before the kitchen was set up and before I settled into a schedule. It smelled good driving by, and I figured I could allow myself just one supersalty, ultrafatty meal before I got my act together.

And damn if that wasn’t some tasty shit. That burger was as satisfying as it was square. The fries weren’t so great, and I’d forgotten how those paper cups weep all over the place, but all in all, I was a happy fella.

So happy, in fact, that I soon found more and more excuses to stop at Wendy’s on the way home. Not every day, but maybe a total of a dozen times in the seven or eight months that I’ve lived here. Sure I hated myself, and sure it was bad for me, but it was convenient, satisfying, and really inexpensive.

Last month, my habits changed abruptly. On March 23, I saw a report in the San Francisco Chronicle about a severed finger found in some chili at a San Jose Wendy’s. I went immediately to the San Jose Mercury News website to see if their article had a street address for the restaurant, and confirmed my worst fears: That lady? With the chili? And the finger? That was at my Wendy’s.

At least, that was my Wendy’s. I haven’t been back there since a week or two before the finger thing. And it’s not like I’ve sought out another fast food joint to eat at.

At first, I was ready to blame Wendy’s. I mean, hey, man, I’ve read Fast Food Nation, right? I kept thinking about driving up to order some chili con dedos, but then I remembered a lesson from the awkward teen at Krusty Burger: “It’s a felony to tease the order box, sir!”

Even now that it’s looking like the lady with the bad chili is a money-grubbing lawsuit-happy finger-planter, the Wendy’s down the street is hurting for business. I’ve noticed the papers no longer print their address, but the franchise owners claim that business is down by more than half, and employees are suffering with cutbacks in hours.

Now I feel bad for the nice people at Wendy’s. Should I go get a burger?