Sunday, December 18, 2005
I didn't realize I am prone to fanaticism.
I know this looks like a nice picture of some friends and I camping in cold weather. But that's not the full story. The complete version of this tale is much more surreal than even I would like to admit.
Have you ever heard the slogan, "Eat More Chikin"? I am now all too familiar.
This past Thursday was an auspicious day for northern Colorado Springs. Not more than one half mile from my apartment, a new Chick-fil-A restaurant opened its doors, and with a bang. And a cow bell, but that comes later.
Chick-fil-A has a little tradition with its grand openings. The first 100 patrons inside the restaurant get one free value meal per week for an entire year. That's worth $249.08. I just calculated it. So that's a lot of money. You can imagine the demand for one of those first 100 spots.
Some friends and I are still here in Colorado Springs, after our semester at Focus on the Family Institute. We decided that we would make ourselves corporate publicity whores for an evening and wait in line. We arrived at 10:15pm. And we waited...
Did I mention it was ridiculously cold? Yeah, it was about 5°F for a low. We tried sitting outside in chairs, bundled up in sleeping bags, but that just wasn't feasible. So about 10 of us packed ourselves into a six-person tent. Ah, sweet relief. I was quite amazed at the thermal effectiveness of spooning (Thank you, Caroline). I'd never done it before, but I can tell you now that it works. It'll do in a pinch. Or in a Chick-fil-A parking lot.
At 2:30am, I thought I had voluntarily checked myself into a concentraction camp. Perhaps a Russian gulag. Okay, so that's a bit historically insensitive, but humor me. They woke us from our peaceful slumber, and made us line up in the order that we registered. And they counted us. It took far too long. We had to stay until they made it to the end of the list. Did I mention the temperature? It was still teeth-chattering cold.
We were then allowed to return to our sleeping bags. Slumber is sweet relief from the cold. As I drifted in and out of sleep, I was serenaded by the thrice-repeated playing of the Braveheart soundtrack. It created a very ethereal ambience for the whole evening. Maybe they wanted us to feel like conquerers or something - William Wallaces, each of us. I've always wondered what it would have felt like to trip out to those psychedelic drugs from the '60s and '70s. Probably not unlike spooning in a parking lot to Braveheart. Probably not.
Finally, at 6am, we lined up again, and were given our official number. I ended up being #58. Slowly, the line began to move. I passed by the restaurant chain's mascot - a uniquely bipedal cow, who was, at one point during the night, in our tent. I gave him a high-five. There's just something weird about high-fiving a cleft hooved creature.
Before I knew it, I was in. The restaurant's employees were making quite a racket. They were banging pots and pans. One man was even making a joyful noise with a cow bell. You know how Japanese people go crazy over American pop icons? Walking into the restaurant, I felt Japanese. Only I was freezing my bum and wearing a funky paper hat for a chance at 52 chicken sandwiches (Did I tell you they made us put on T-shirts and wear those fold-out paper hats?). I think I might have felt better if I had been waiting in line to take a picture of Justin Timberlake or Paris Hilton on my camera phone. Actually I'm lying. I'd rather have the sandwiches. And I don't have a camera phone. At least there wasn't a stampede.
I think I learned something about myself that evening. Actually, no, I didn't. I just felt silly. But I have the last laugh. Because I have 52 coupons to Chick-fil-A sitting in my dresser drawer right now. Well, actually, I only have 50, because I ate Chick-fil-A for lunch on Friday and yesterday. (You can use the coupons whenever you want, actually. I suppose you could eat at Chick-fil-A for 52 consecutive meals. I wouldn't recommend it. You might die of peanut oil overdose.)
So, if you come to visit me, I just might treat you to a value meal at Chick-fil-A.