Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fistfighting at Taco Bell


Driving east on Bay street on a foggy Sunday, I stopped for a red light. Looking in the rear view mirror, I see 3 young men in the middle of the street running my way, waving their hands for me to stop. They were definitely running from something.

I thought about blowing the light, but there was too much traffic, so I locked the doors. The automatic door lock didn’t work. I panicked and thought about getting out of the cab and running.

All three jumped in the back and looked out the back window, checking to see if anybody was chasing them. “Go, go, go,” they yelled.

In their heightened state, one of them had the wherewithal to ease my fears: “Don’t worry, we’re not gonna hurt you. Treasure Island.” My face must’ve shown fear. They were military and were stationed at Treasure Island.

The light changed and I proceeded in silence, still not sure if these guys were legit. Once we were off Bay Street, they stopped looking out the back window and physically relaxed, sinking into the seats. I relaxed too.

Making a right on Battery, on my way to the Bay Bridge, they relived why they were running:

“Did you see that bitch with the umbrella hit me? She didn’t even work there.” When he opened his mouth, it was obvious that he wasn’t from the area. He had a country twang, drawing out the last word of every sentence. I surveyed the three of them in the rear view window and it was now obvious that they were 3 country boys on leave from the military for the weekend.

“Yeah, I saw her go after you with the umbrella, but I was dealing with that asshole Manager. Fuck that guy. So, I didn’t know what sour cream was. I didn’t like his tone” He got more animated as he relived the incident, blurting short, disjointed accounts of what happened.

Umbrella? Fighting with a Manager? What had these guys done?

By the time I exited at Treasure Island, I had pieced the story together: When ordering food at Taco Bell, one of the guys pronounced enchilada “en-chill-da.” The Taco Bell employee corrected his pronunciation. This pissed them off, but he stayed calm…for now. He continued with the order, but got stumped when it came to asking for sour cream, not remembering what it was called:

“You know, I want some of that white shit. You know…white shit?” he couldn’t remember the name.

“Do you mean sour cream?” the employee sassed back.

Once again not appreciating the employee’s patronizing tone, he reached over the counter and punched him in the face. The Manager of Taco Bell intervened, grabbing the guy in a head lock and pulling over the counter. His buddy’s reacted and an all out fistfight ensued.

I dropped them off in front of the guard station. As I watched them show the MPs their military IDs and disappear into the barracks, I thought about pulling up to the guard station and telling him the story. Instead, I made a u-turn, knowing they gave me a wonderful story.

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