1 Cheeseburger, no tomato, no onions
1 Cheeseburger, extra pickles
2 Hamburgers, no tomato, no onions
2 Cheeseburgers, no tomato, no spread, with grilled onions
1 Cheeseburger, no spread, no onions
2 Cheeseburgers, with grilled onions
1 Cheeseburger, animal style
1 Double-Double, No onions
4 Orders of Fries
4 Medium drinks, 2 shakes, 1 Chocolate and 1 Strawberry, and 2 Small drinks
That’s our familys’ standard order at In N Out burger. At the time that I place this order have been back from Vegas for less than 24 hours, and in honor of that, I am about to take the easy way out for dinner. And since the kids all got In & Out gift cards in their Christmas stockings, I am going to let them pay for it too (this will also cut my losses a little bit for that Vegas trip). It should also be noted that I am on solo parenting duty this night.
After the preliminary, post-arrival-at-an-eating-establishment threats and organizational pep talks have been delivered, I look at the 16 year old cashier waiting ahead of us with nothing but pity, because I know our order is going to bake his brainstem. I mean, it does mine. There are many things food related to having a big family that still make my mind boggle (I grew up as part of a 2 child family). Things like milk, and bread, and eggs. And the quantities consumed therein.
“Can I help you?”
“I’m so sorry. Yes you can.”
I proceed to produce each child in turn at the counter and have them place their order. I like them to order for themselves and in general practice navigating the world whenever the opportunity arises. This, I think, is where I inevitably go wrong. It’s either then or it’s at the moment before I ever set foot in the place to begin with.
Anywhoo, upon completion of their order, they are sent to sit at the long bench seat facing the counter and wait for me. Cups are handed out and older children are sent to help the little children get their drinks filled and then direct them to sit. In between, I attempt to finish our order and continuously shoo away children who have questions about nothing in particular or who want hugs, etc. while I do it.
At the end, our ever cheerful cashier says what he’s required to say,“Let me just read that order back to you and see if we got it right.”
“Sure,” I reply. “Let’s try that.” Internally, I am rolling my eyes, knowing there isn’t a chance in hell it’ll go that smoothly, but he proceeds to do just that in a very organized, efficient manner, because, unlike me, he’s actually been trained to do his job.
He reads me an order that I barely recognize because I have paid more attention to what the 6 people I have brought with me are doing to the dining experience of the other patrons around them than to what I was actually saying. But, he gets to one order with no spread and grilled onions and I think wait…that doesn’t sound right.
“Wait…that doesn’t sound right.” The only child who doesn’t like spread also doesn’t like grilled onions. I ask him to take the onions off of that one.
“And the other one too?”
“What other one?” Children are still coming up to me in the middle of this to ask if the world is flat or round and why is the sky blue and if cheeseburgers are made of cow.
“The other one without the spread,” he replies.
It takes me a minute to remember that child eats two burgers now. “Oh. Yes…that one too.”
He still doesn’t think this is right and he reads the order over to me again. We do this dance a couple more times and I finally look over where they are all lined up like Murders Row and locate the no-spread-eating child. “You don’t want grilled onions, right?” I ask, thinking this will demonstrate to the efficient 16 year old that we need to change that part of the order.
“Yes. Mine’s no spread with grilled onions.”
“Huh? What the What?! You changed on me. When did that happen?!” He looks at me blankly.
Fine. I turn back to cashier, “Well okay. I guess we’re keeping the grilled onions on those two.”
“Okay. Let me just read that all over to you again from the top to be sure…”
sigh. We do. I listen. It sounds right now, so I pay and take my cup over to the soda fountain and as I pass by the bench where they are all sitting I tell them to start scoping out a free table. I move the two feet towards the drinks fountain and a weird thing happens, they all stand as one and come with me to the drinks fountain. This behavior has the immediate effect of rendering the space in front of the drinks machine identical to a New York City sidewalk at rush hour. The really interesting thing is that they don’t even realize they’ve done it.
It’s the sort of thing that happens all the time. My friend calls it the “Mother Duck Impulse.” I think that’s an accurate description of it. It’s pretty claustrophobic when there are a lot of them, but I can appreciate the impulse.
Anyway, In N Out nailed our order, because they’re awesome, and we squeezed into an available rush hour booth and enjoyed our fix with me standing at the end of the table through the entire meal, because no matter how hard you try, you can’t fit more than 6 people into one of those booths. It’s just another way to draw attention to ourselves. We excel at that.
Anyway, by way of a public service for reading this post, here’s a fun post on all the In N Out variations that can be found off the menu.
See you next time the circus comes to town!