Who would have thought, after two months of staying at home eating nothing but delicious home cooked meals...
... frozen dinners...
... and eventually take-out dinners, so many people could have truly fallen off the deep end with a bad case of Lockdown Fever?
Symptoms of Lockdown Fever include:
- Extreme Boredom
- Unexercised Muscles
- Deja Vu (from watching re-runs over and over)
- Zoom Meeting Retina Red Eye
- Reduced Social Skills
- Repulsion From Repetitive Healthy Meal Options
- Sudden Cravings for Unhealthy Foods (fatty, salty, sweet)
Let me share a story about my own recent fall from grace, as I succumbed to the Lockdown Fever.
Soon I discovered I was not alone. In fact, there were many other un-diagnosed diseased ones coming in from all over the state, like moths to a flame. This sickness spreads faster than flames to a grease spill. It can spontaneously combust inside any human with or without contact with contaminants.
Over the past few years, the infamous In-N-Out fast food chain has been expanding to new locations. Popular for their low prices, fast service, friendly staff, and fresh ingredients.
In the past, you could only find this fast food burger joint in California. They've recently been spreading their wings to nearby states. I have fond memories of going inside with only a few dollars and leaving with heaps of delicious food. Despite their openly Christian agenda, it left a very sinful addiction in my soul, leaving me wanting to return again and again. Alas! Living in another state, it was a long distance relationship that was never meant to be. Or so I thought!
This year, I heard about a new location which opened less than an hour south of where I live. After months of cold and winter, all it took was a day of torrential rains in the middle of May to urge me to get out of the endless volunteer imprisonment I call home.
When I first arrived and saw the golden sign, I was delighted. Lots of open parking! And good old Marion County should be in phase one of opening up from the lockdown rules, right?
But, what's this? The interior is closed? Why are there so many orange cones everywhere?
When I was your age, we had to...
The dreaded line!
It was easy to find where the line was. Follow the line of cars filled with drivers who all threw their masks in the dumpster fire out back. They were all backed up in a single lane of traffic all around the outdoor mall parking lot.
I followed the line, and it continued all the way around the outer road circling the parking lot for Target.
I followed the line down the road running parallel with the interstate highway.
Inside the baseball stadium parking lock, the lost diseased sheep were being herded by teams of traffic control workers. These shepherds were dressed in white uniform with a red apron held on by an over-sized safety pin in the back. Each adorned with a black mask. The orange vest adjunct workers were apparently exempt from the mask-wearing rule.
One day, when I'm really old, at a family reunion I'll be able to tell my youngest family members something like this...
"When I was your age, we had to park a mile away to wait in line for a burger and fries. It was back to back traffic all the way. Stuck in the pouring rain between traffic cones and barriers with no restrooms or food for 3 hours. Not a single public restroom open due to lockdown laws. Thought I'd have to pee in a cup before I could make it home an hour away."
Slow And Steady
Three rows of cars were organized in the stadium lot. Traffic staff would allow one line of cars to gradually move forward before the next line could start to follow. At least they were making sure cars were not taking cuts. Six to eight cars moved forward at a time every fifteen minutes.
When lining up, we did not know how long the wait would be. We only knew, this is the only way to our destination.
A New Hope
Back-to-back, bumper-to-bumper, park-and-wait. I had fully reached the nether regions of my youtube app's watch later list of videos. The type of videos I never had the time or patience for in the past, such as "Origins of Mithraism".
Fortunately, there was no danger of handling a mobile device while parked. In the 15 minutes between moving forward, cars were turning off their engines to save on gas. If I had known how long all this would take, I could have finished something less long and stressful, like taxes. Too bad, I already finished mine months ago.
When I finally made it into the actual parking lot entrance, it had been two hours. An appointment in an hour to pick up some plants I ordered in Portland was in serious jeopardy. Clearly those plans would have to be cancelled, because there was no escape from this self-made prison behind the car in front of me.
Messengers From God
Actually I was kind of pissed off at this point. Already, I was formulating plans of how to set up a yelp account so I could leave a review. Before I set off on my trip to arrive, I checked their website, and I felt it was very misleading. It should have included juicy tidbits of such as:
"You'll be In-N-Out in 3 hours! Drive-Thru Only. Line begins at the Stadium. Might want to eat lunch before you get in line. There is no line at McDonald's Drive-Thru if you want something quick. No public restrooms here or anywhere nearby. Lockdown policies are still in full effect."
The kind of information any Portlander with a raging case of Lockdown Fever might want to know for their own safety.
I asked a traffic controller how long the wait would be while in sight of the Drive-Thru entrance, and they said another 45 more minutes. Actually an hour and fifteen minutes more would have been more accurate, I later discovered.
Thankfully, I was able to instead alleviate my anger by sending an email while sitting motionless in my car to cancel my prior appointment. In the next 15 minutes I was able to reschedule my appointment for the next day. This reduced my stress levels for a moment, until the headaches and sitting pains began.
Now it was raining. Eventually they started taking orders a good 50 feet prior to reaching the menu sign. Not even knowing what's on the menu, I figured it should be easy enough to order the double cheeseburger, fries, coke, and shake.
I'll never forget the forced smile of the man wearing the mask. I could seethe smile in his eyes only. With the rain starting to fall, he was probably happy I was finished ordering without making things difficult.
A second helper 30 feet later confirms my order and asks if I want to change anything. Despite having to go to the bathroom, and having a raging hunger headache (neither do I mention, knowing she cannot help me with them), I asked her to change my drink order to a large. Yes, I was going to need it. I deserved it. I've already fallen this far down.
The actual food delivery process is very quick and fast, true to their name. I still think Park-And-Wait more accurately represents their business than In-N-Out during this pandemic.
Apparently the car in front of me had a much bigger case of Lockdown Fever than I did. With two people in their car, they ordered three trays of burgers and fries with two large drinks. They made my order feel quite small in comparison.
Honestly, the food is no better than food I've eaten elsewhere. The burger is the same as a Wendy's burger in flavor, without the extra seasoning. Although, here they melt extra cheese on the patty, so it sticks to everything on the sides like an overloaded grilled cheese sandwich. You can certainly taste the cheesiness.
The fries are hard to describe. Cooked in sunflower oil the label states. To me it tastes like biting into a warm nutty cracker. Crisp and doughy soft somehow at the same time. Gotta say, they are one of a kind, but not the best.
Del Taco, believe or not, actually has amazing crinkle fries that outshine these. Shorter line.
How did you like my true story?
What's the craziest thing you've done as a result of your own Lockdown Fever? I would love to know your stories in the comments below.
All photos in this post were my own, with the exception of the cover photo I snagged for clickbait.
Cover Photo: Pixabay