Friday, July 1, 2011
Would You Go to Jail for a Hamburger?
Would you go to jail for a hamburger? I almost did. I know, I know. You have a confused look on your face, right? Does he love hamburgers that much that he'd do a stint in jail for it? Nah, it's not what you think. Let me explain how it all went down...
I'm working for a General Motors company back around '91. They're a factory that produces parts for GM vehicles. It's my 2nd summer working with them, but unlike like last summer, I'm stuck on the overnight shift. I'm working 1030 PM - 7 AM and I absolutely hate it. What makes it so bad is that we only get 30 minutes for lunch. I guess it's management's way of making sure we don't have enough time to actually get some sleep. I can only imagine that an hour of sleep at 330 AM would not lend to much production afterwards.
Since we only get the 30 minute lunch, me and the guys usually bring our lunches from home. The only restaurant near us was a Waffle House and their cook with the Jheri curl and trench coat creeped us out. Yes, dude was a cook and he wore a trench coat. Weird, right? But, there was a Krystal located roughly 10-12 minutes away. For those unfamiliar with Krystal, it's the South's version of White Castle.
But, like I said, it's a 10 - 12 minute trip one way to get there. With only 30 minutes for lunch, we'd spend 20 - 24 minutes on the road with only 6 - 10 minutes left to order our food. Eating wasn't a concern since you can easily "scarf down" a few Krystal burgers while in transit.
Well, our 3rd night of the summer, four of the five of us didn't take the time to bring lunch. We were struggling with the decision to go to Waffle House and pray that the cook wouldn't pull out a saw-offed "shotty" and kill everyone or just going to the vending machine. At that time, one guy whose name I forget, so I'll call him Dale (in honor of Earnhardt, Sr.), came up with a brilliant idea. "Fellas, I can get us to Krystal," he started. "I'm not eating Doritos or waffles tonight."
"How are you going to do it?" another guy asked.
"Just come on," he said turning towards the punch clock waiting on 330 AM on the dot, "I can get us there."
Of course, the four of us are intrigued on how he's going to manage to drive us to Krystal and back in 30 minutes. We follow him to the parking lot and this dude leads us to a blue 1990 Geo Metro. "How are you going to get us to Krystal and back in this (bleeping) thing?" one guy asked.
"Man, just get in, we need every second!" Dale yelled.
Within a couple of minutes, we're down the windy road leading from the parking lot and onto Highway 80 rolling five-deep in a freakin' Metro. Dale has to be doing 85-90 mph on a four lane highway with a speed limit of 55. We're scared to death of being late from lunch, but we manage to get to Krystal at 337 AM! I'm amazed. Not necessarily for how easily we got to Krystal, but for the fact that I just rode in a Metro that topped 85 mph.
We get our order in roughly eight minutes and we're back in the car and on the road at 347 AM heading back to work. Dale tears down the highway once again with not another set of headlights in sight. We arrive back to work at 355 AM with full bellies and nothing left but colas to finish off.
(Laughing) "Man, I can't believe you drove like that," one guy started. "You were wide open!"
Now, as a 20-something at the time, I wasn't a least bit concerned about the rate of speed we were going. 20-something males are invincible, right? Not! But, they are stupid.
After the successful run, we spent the next two weeks going to Krystal every single work night. The closest we came to being late was 358 AM. Call it Divine Intervention or just dumb luck, but one Tuesday, we congregated around the punch clock waiting on 330 AM. We're not in a rush this particular night because our manager decided to reward us with an extra 15 minutes for lunch each night this week for being so productive. Dale tells us that his mom had to borrow his car, so one of us would have to drive.
"I'll drive" a guy named Rick said.
Rick had a 1989 Hyundai Excel and we all piled into it. As we get midway on Highway 80, we notice blue lights ahead. "Aw, snap," Rick said. "Road block."
Normally, at this point of our trip to Krystal, Dale comes over this hill rolling around 70 mph. This is normally the stretch of the highway where we can pretty much determine if any cops may be in the area. Needless to say, we're relieved that this isn't one of those nights.
We pull up to the road block and the Clinton Police Officer asks to see Rick's driver's license. "How's it going, officer?" Rick asked squinting at the flashlight in his eyes.
"It's alright, I guess," the policeman starts. "We're out here tonight trying to run down some idiot in a blue car who speeds through here like a fool every night."
The car went silent. Dale is sitting in the middle of the back seat in between me and another guy. Rick, noticing the uncomfortable silence, speaks up, "Oh, re-re-really? W-W-What kind of car?"
The office replied after passing back Rick's license, "I'm unsure. An off-duty officer saw him two nights in a row while dropping his wife off at work. Said he had to be doing at least 100 mph."
Again, the car goes "Tell-Tale Heart" with a creepy silence that seems to scream guilt. I'm racking my brain trying to remember ever seeing another car on the road during our "qualifying laps" to Krystal. "Man, that's messed up, officer," Rick says.
"Have a good night," says the officer as he taps the car with his flashlight and waves us on.
We drove 40 mph the rest of the way to Krystal. Had Dale been driving that night during our normal 30 minute lunches, there's no doubt that he probably would have been arrested for a reckless driving charge and we all would have been out of a job and possibly at the police station with him. In fact, even if he would have been doing the speed limit in his car that night, he still would have probably gotten in some sort of trouble just from his car being recognized.
That next night, a new tradition was started: lunches at the Waffle House.