Monday, February 28, 2011

Out to Lunch

“You have ordered a meatloaf sandwich; your total is $14.04,” the pleasant, female voice from the machine said to me. The problem is I had ordered broasted chicken: 2 breasts and 2 thighs. I was standing in a Royal Farms store trying to buy lunch and get back to work. I had pressed the correct pictures on the screen but somehow ended up with the wrong order. About the time I was canceling to try again I heard the lady next to me exclaim that her machine had just changed to Spanish.

With some trepidation I re-started, pressing the picture on the screen. I was greeted by this message: “Buck-buck-buck BRAWK! Buck-buck-buck BRAWK!” Yes, my machine had switched to chicken. “I don’t understand,” I said back as if the machine could hear me. It followed with “You have ordered a meatloaf sandwich; your total is $14.04.” “No!” I yelled, turning to see if anyone was looking at me, but all I saw was the woman next to me smacking the side of her machine and begging, “Por favor, no pollo y arroz. Macaroni and cheese! Mac and cheese!”

I cancelled my order again and began to leave. But something drew me back. I was determined to get what I wanted for lunch. I quickly pressed the picture of chicken then ordered my 2 breasts and 2 thighs. When I pressed “continue” the female voice returned. “So, you’re a breast and thigh man, huh? I should have known. You’re all the same. What about a nice drumstick or wing? No, it has to be about sex: breasts and thighs. Well I’ve had it with the lot of you. I don’t care if Gary ever does come back to me. I don’t need him; I have a career here at Royal Farms. You hear that Gary Big-Muscles-and-Wavy-Brown-Hair, I don’t need you or your desire for children. You have ordered a meatloaf sandwich, your total is $14.04, you sexist jerk.”

“Come on,” I cried, stabbing the “cancel” button angrily. The woman next to me was on her knees rubbing a rosary. “No quiero pollo! Yo quiero macaroni and cheese, por favor la maquina de los alimentos.” Despite this, I tried one last time. I punched in my order, pressed “continue” and heard those 10 words I had come to hate “You have ordered a meatloaf sandwich, your total is $14.04”.

I lost control. I grabbed the side of the machine and began shaking it. “Chicken! Chicken, you mechanical bitch! I ordered chicken. Three times I’ve ordered chicken, the most plentiful meat in the world! I know you have some in there you computerized harpy!” By now my fists were pounding on the screen which was lighting up like a pinball machine. I glanced to my right and saw that my ordering companion had dumped a display of Drakes Cakes and was using the metal shelving unit like a medieval battering ram, slamming into the video screen again and again yelling “Pudrirse en el infierno la maquina!”

The glass finally gave way and a fountain of macaroni and cheese erupted out of it. The woman lay down on the floor and let it rain onto her body. She was making mac and cheese angels while eating the hot pasta from her chest. Feeling emboldened, I picked up a log of butcher bologna and clubbed my way through the video screen of my machine. Sparks flew and the female voice kept repeating, “Gary, come back baby. I made meatloaf sandwiches.” Finally the front panel of the machine burst and hundreds of pieces of broasted chicken poured out.

I picked up 2 breasts and 2 thighs, putting them in a bag I grabbed from the almost comatose check-out clerk. With a knowing nod to the woman happily eating her way out from under 200 pounds of mac and cheese, I left the store to go back to work.

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