Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fishing For Sanity In Taco Land

["Let Inga Tell You", La Jolla Light, published July 28, 2011]  © 2011

Forget mandatory military service.  Everyone should be required to work two years in retail.

I actually did a fair amount of retail in my high school and college years - waitressing, sales jobs in clothing stores etc.  But I’ve realized I couldn’t do it anymore.  I’d just scream at the patrons and get fired, probably on the first day.

During my years working up near the University, I developed a love affair with a fast food Mexican Grill which I have successfully continued in my retirement courtesy of their multitude of locations.    If they’d only had a Frequent Eater stock option program, I’d be a majority shareholder by now.  Several times a week I can still be found plunking my $6.23 on the counter and walking away with two Health-Mex chicken tacos.

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to people place orders while I’m waiting for mine and I can’t fathom  how cashiers in fast food places maintain their sanity.  But they are always relentlessly nice.  And patient.  And smiling.   I’m not privy to what these poor folks do when they go home but if it were me, I’d start out by screaming in my car at 150 decibels.  (I concede that this would not work as well on a bus.)  Imagine a day of orders like this:

Customer:  What’s in the Fish Taco Especial?
Cashier (pointing to the large-print menu board which specifically states what it contains):  Beer-battered fish, guacamole, cheese, and cilantro, on your choice of corn or flour tortilla. 
Customer:  Is it good?
Cashier:  Very good.  It’s one of our signature menu items.
Customer:  So what does es-special mean?
Cashier:  That’s Spanish for “special”.
Customer:  Oh.  What kind of cheese is in it?
Cashier:  Cheddar and Jack.
Customer:  Could I have Swiss instead?
Cashier:  We don’t actually have Swiss but we could leave out the cheese if you prefer.
Customer:  If I get a hamburger, can I get Swiss?
Cashier (amazingly, still smiling):  This is a Mexican restaurant so we don’t have hamburgers.  May I recommend our Grilled Steak Taco instead?
Customer:  What’s in that?
Cashier (pointing to the menu board again):  Grilled steak, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, and salsa on your choice of tortilla.  You can have it as a two-taco plate with tortilla chips and pinto beans, or rice or black beans.  I highly recommend the pinto beans.
Customer:  Could I get just one taco with chips and no cheese and could you wrap it in lettuce instead of a tortilla?  I’m kind of doing this low carb thing.
Casher:  Well, let me ask the manager but I think we could do that.
Customer:  Is the salsa spicy?  I don’t really like spicy. 
Cashier:  No, not real spicy.  But I might recommend that you add your own salsa from our excellent salsa bar right over there. It has everything from mild to ‘picante’ which means really spicy.
Customer:  Well, maybe I’ll get that.  I’d like the steak well done.  I don’t want any of that Mad Cow stuff.
Cashier:  Um, okay.  So, one Grilled Steak Taco, well done, with guacamole, no cheese, wrapped in a lettuce leaf, no salsa, with chips.  Would you like a drink with that?
Customer:  I’ll have a chocolate milkshake.
Cashier:  I’m sorry we don’t have milkshakes but we have great Mexican beer plus a variety of soft drinks.
Customer:  Oh.  Just water then.  (Cell phone rings. To cashier:)  Hold on, I’ve got a call coming in.  (To caller:)  I’m trying to order lunch and they can’t seem to get my order straight.
Cashier:  That will be $3.85.
Customer:  Darn. I think I left my wallet in my other purse. 

Here’s how this would have gone down if I were the cashier:
Inga:  Look at the menu board!  If you want a burger, go to Jack in the Box!  Leave!  Come back when you actually want to order!  You are so friggin’ ANNOYING!

Which is probably why I don’t have to worry about being hired in the fast food biz any time soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

**Giving Lip Service To Dumping Plastic Water Bottles

["Let Inga Tell You", La Jolla Light, published July 14, 2011] © 2011

I recently saw a beautiful choker necklace in a catalog and knew I had to have it.  But when it arrived, I discovered that the model had one thing I didn’t have:  a neck.  It isn’t really a weight issue (although no one has accused me to being thin for a very long time) so much as anatomy.  Unlike the swan-throated model, my head seems to sit directly on my shoulders making choker wearing problematical at best. 

As it turns out, I’m also missing a waist.  Of course, I make up for it by having multiples of other parts, like chins.  And thighs.  Women’s clothes are measured on fit models who are assumed to have standard parts.  They are not designed for those of us with three thighs and boobs that graze one’s belly button.  Which I think we’ll all agree is good news.  But it makes acquiring apparel a significant problem. 

Of course, one could consider having clothes custom made.  But I fear they would actually fit.   No one with no neck and no waist and three thighs really wants to emphasize those things.  We’re looking for the clothes that disguise our anatomical failings.

Actually, I’m puzzled as to where this body shape came from.  It’s definitely not the norm in my family, although I’m not the norm in my family in any other way either.  I’m a blue-eyed blond in a family of brown-eyed brunettes.  It was always my theory that someone out there is a family of blond hunchbacks who wonder why they have a normal-shaped brunette child. 

But for women, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. And if one lives in La Jolla, there is really no need for any imperfections whatsoever here in Cosmetic Surgery Mecca.

I have a slender exquisitely beautiful friend who has the precise right number of body parts in the perfect proportions but is obsessed about the wrinkle lines around her mouth.  Personally I’ve never noticed the wrinkle lines around her mouth and if I could trade one of my chins for mouth wrinkles, I’d do it in an upper arm wobble er, heartbeat.  Not long ago my friend found herself distressed enough about it to actually undergo a full face laser peel. It sounded totally miserable.  She referred to herself as Franken Face, refused all social contact and only ventured out to walk the dog in darkness.  Even her own children had limited access. 

But here’s the clincher on this one:  she is convinced that the wrinkles around her lips were caused by drinking from plastic water bottles.  You know, the ubiquitous bottles that everyone seems to have in hand or in purse at all times.  They’re more than a fashion accessory; they’re like another limb.  But one worth amputating if it would avoid wrinkles.  She’s asked me to put out the word:  don’t let this happen to you.  Dump the water bottles.

 A little research showed that lip-area wrinkles are also called smoker’s lip or whistler’s lip, since, of course, those activities have a similar pucker to water bottle consumption.  But then you start thinking of all the myriad lip puckering activities you actually engage in, like, for example, kissing.  And things that kissing could lead to.  In such an appearance-oriented place as La Jolla, this could put the kabolix on all manner of more intimate activities.   Although I think most guys in La Jolla would say that they should be so lucky that any puckering activities they’re interested in would be habitual.  Still, this water bottle/lip wrinkle thing gets too much play and pretty soon La Jolla guys are getting even less of what they say they weren’t getting anyway.  We’re talking major consequences here.

But not for me.  Zapping the lines around my lips won’t give me a waist or a neck or take away even a single thigh.   So bring on the Evian.  If I can’t be well-proportioned, I can at least be hydrated.