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Columnist Demands Extra Napkins, Causes Backup in Taco Bell Drive-Through Line

A Simple Request for Napkins Causes Anger.

Did ya ever notice that fast food places barely give you enough napkins to wipe off a pinkie after gorging on their messy fare?  Seriously. It doesn’t take an expert to know that napkins go hand in hand with sloppy food. Take my latest experience at a burger joint.

“Can I take your order, please?” droned a pimply faced teenage boy behind the counter.

After receiving my food, I spread out all its greasy goodness:  burgers bulging with toppings, chili fries, drink, and condiments. What’s that? One napkin. How can a diner survive with one napkin?  Oozing, dripping bounty was a hallmark at In-N-Out Burger.

I turned to catch a quick glimpse of my son. His approach to napkin scarcity was shared among the fourteen-and-under crowd. What’s to complain about? Who needed napkins? As long as you are wearing clothes, just wipe the grease across your lips, down your face, and onto your sleeve! What’s the problem?

Since I’m not comfortable using my arm as a napkin, I marched up to the counter and asked, “May I have a few more napkins?”

Totally serious, Pimple Face passed me one more. 

Yeah, like that was going to make a dent. I’m talkin’ lots more. A huge stack. 

“Is it too much to ask for more napkins?” I pleaded.

That time, I swore, he went to a safe in the back of the kitchen and re-emerged with the prize napkins, doling one out like a precious gem. I marched back to the table with my two measly napkins. Since when did the guy behind the counter become the Napkin Police?

Now don’t get me started about napkins at either. Eating lunch there had become a personal challenge. Inside the clear plastic bag were a tightly wrapped sandwich and one napkin. To clarify my anger, let me explain that I ordered a meatball sandwich. That sucker was so loaded with sauce and extras that getting it to the table before it exploded was a challenge. Once unwrapped, my dilemma was obvious and someone was going to pay. I needed more napkins. Racing to the counter, I slipped my hand behind and stole five more.    

I’d stop going to if it weren’t for the fact that I could feed an army of kids for $5.99.  That place definitely not only claimed a napkin shortage but also minimized their size.

At the drive-through window, I shouted, “Six soft tacos, one hard taco, nachos, small Coke. Don’t forget the napkins.”

Through the muffled intercom, the order sounded all garbled.  At the drive-thru window, I peeked inside my bag — one measly napkin; one-ply, brown and dinky as a moist towelette. Come on. Mexican food was a messy meal, what with all the hot sauces and toppings. At the first speed bump, my lap would be one black bean away from looking like the Mexican appetizer platter. Despite the line of cars backed up at the drive through, I rolled down the window and demanded more napkins.

“Pull your car forward, lady,” says Taco Guy.

“Not until I get more napkins,” I said.

“You’re causing a problem. Pull forward,” he yelled.

“More napkins!” I begged. Amidst the sound of honking behind me, he tossed napkins into my car. 

Success. That’s one small step for man, one pile of napkins for me!

Kim January 20, 2012 at 05:07 PM
This article is offensive and a complete waste of time. Maybe you should go work at a fast food restaurant so that other so-called columnists can call you names on the Internet, because you are clearly not a writer. And you have a teenage son of your own, yet you stoop to calling another teen "Pimple Face." Definitely higher up on the rude scale than holding back napkins.
Sue January 20, 2012 at 05:14 PM
seems all this person eats is junk food. I agree with you Jackie.
Sue January 20, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Sounds like someone eats too much junk food.
Dublin Mom January 20, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Agreed. Who decided that this column or writer was clever? Epic Fail to the editor.
Terri January 20, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Completely agree Kim, the mean-spiritedness of the writer's attitude towards those serving them is disgusting.
Laurie Fox January 20, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Love it! And COMPLETELY agree. It's ridiculous. I was just at Taco Bell yesterday and they had ZERO napkins in the dining room. There were napkin dispensers, but they were ALL Empty. I got my tray and NO Napkins. So of course I asked and was handed, ONE, white cardboard type paper towel. Fortunately the gals was very nice...she saw the look on my face and asked, "Do you need another one?" Well, since I am here with my daughter, it would be nice if we didn't have to share this ONE paper towel. Unreal!
Andy Smith January 20, 2012 at 08:05 PM
You folks who are complaining about this are hilarious!! If you don't like it, then DON'T READ IT!! It never ceases to amaze me when I read comments about news articles or videos. People will say things like, "I did not like this video"--then why the heck did you watch it??? Man oh man, people sure are wound up tight these days.
Dublin Mom January 20, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Are you serious? Do you also deride the opinions of those who sample a food and comment that they don't like it? "Well, if you don't like it, why did you try it?" Nobody would say that; it's absurd. Do you really expect people to magically know that something is offensive without personally experiencing it? Isn't that the basis of bigotry? Here in the U.S., we are allowed to have opinions, even if they are different from yours. BTW, your earlier suggestion to have napkins in the glove box was so obvious that I laughed about the writer's inability to use a little common sense. As a parent, I thought that everyone kept a stash of napkins or paper towels or wet wipes. Stuff happens. Be prepared.
Andy Smith January 20, 2012 at 08:38 PM
As Sergeant Hulka said, ""Lighten up, Francis".
Deborah Bernal January 20, 2012 at 09:09 PM
All I can say to those negative readers and commenters is: Do you not understand? This is a column written with humor to provide comedic relief during the rough times we live in. Read the title of the column: 'Are You Kidding Me?' The author pokes fun at herself, her family, and common situations of everyday life. I, for one, have had numerous experiences with the "napkin police" at several fast-food restaurants, and I don't eat at these places all the time. No disrespect was intended, so relax and laugh more.
Terri January 20, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Humor at the expense of others is not funny. Calling mean names, "demanding" more napkins (not requesting, DEMANDING) at the drive through, it's JUST NOT FUNNY. And since this is an op-ed piece, this columnist should expect conflicting views. Nobody is disputing a need for napkins, because that's not the theme that most of us see in this article. I interpret the theme to be "why do I have to be bothered to ask for something nicely when I used to get plenty without asking". Answer: everyone is trying to be more eco-friendly.
Stacey Gustafson January 20, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Life is too short. The lack of napkins is something each of us has experienced, hopefully with a sense of humor. It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either. Wayne Dyer
Camille Thompson January 20, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Great column!
Deborah Bernal January 20, 2012 at 10:18 PM
I agree. My point exactly. Keep on writing and making me laugh. Napkins up, cheers!
Lynn Kruger January 20, 2012 at 11:26 PM
At least 3 days a week I get my 'feed bag on' by ordering a breakfast burrito at Jack in the Box before playing tennis and I have the same problem!!!! You gave me a great idea, from now on I will now start my order with " may I please have half a dozen napkins and a steak and egg burrito with no hash browns " lol:))). I liked your article, I guess I'm not as uptight as some people. I don't think think Stacey meant any disrespect :)
Sue January 21, 2012 at 01:43 AM
If you didn't eat at jack in the box you wouldn't need to play tennis.
Pleasanton Mom January 21, 2012 at 03:18 AM
I totally hear you on the while napkin thing and while we rarely do the drive thru, when we do, you are correct that they never seem to give enough napkins. But honestly, as a parent of teenagers, you could have made that point without personally attacking a kid over something out of his control like acne. Sorry, but these personal digs don't add to the attempt at humor and make this found childish when the original point was quite valid.
timothy January 23, 2012 at 12:48 AM
I'm with ya there.....don't let these employees push you around. Sadly they get pushed my cheap-minded managers who will fire the kid who won't battle the napkin issue, as silly as it sounds. These pushy restaurant managers fight to make their restaurant as profitable as possible....pushing their employees into rediculous situations. Just to get a better BONUS. Fight back.
Gillian January 23, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Those of you who are "Outraged" and think the article is "Offensive" have obviously had your sense of humor surgically removed and are totally missing the point of this entertaining look at suburban life, either that or you've been living in Northern California for so long that you really think "Humor at the expense of others is not funny" Really??? You really need to get out more.
Cindy Luck January 24, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Who knew napkins could cause such an uproar. Thanks for the Monday chuckle.
Cantellya January 24, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Staci-Great article on something we have all experienced. Dublin Mom--you're obviously a Serial Commenter who loves to suck the humor and wisdom out of everything you read and spit it out as venom. Stick to watching the Kardashians and leave us decent folks to our positive outlook on the world.
Ailish Mitchell-Rodriguez January 24, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I agree...the author was trying to be humorous and I doubt she wrote it to be hateful....so if you didn't think her article was funny, so be it...but to attack her like that! Wow, really!?! People crack me up....they attack her for being supposedly cruel and hurtful with her words and her opinion in this article, so in-return they act cruel and hurtful towards her....grow up!!! It makes little sense to me why you would criticize someone for being mean and then turn around to do the same thing, if not worse....
Andy Smith January 24, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Agree Ailish--small town politics and "news" is pretty funny stuff. It's free entertainment to watch people's feathers get all ruffled over nothing.
Elaine Schmitz January 25, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Hey Stacy - Reads like you napkin crisis has caused a backup of another kind. I was once - long time ago in the last century - a manager at a Burger King. While I can understand your point and appreciate your humor, you just have to have worked in one of those places to understand the dilemma of the counter-kid. Fast food joints are cheap because they regulate everything to maintain uniformity of product, speed, and their minimal profit margin. They regulate it through brow-beating their employees (no malice intended, just the way things are) to follow their exact instructions. In this case, it's the 1 napkin per customer rule. I suggest you try Baja Fresh - no drive thru, but they leave their napkins out for their customers to choose the number they need.
Anne January 26, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Jackie, Sue, and Dublin Mom, I'm sure your organic, vegan, home-made meals are wonderful, served with cloth napkins. Your kids, dog and husband are perfect. If you have so much going for yourself, why the need to throw stones?
Jackie January 26, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Too funny.........no dog, meat lover and who would ever use cloth napkins but yes you are correct my kids are pretty much perfect:)
Al pal January 27, 2012 at 05:29 AM
@ the hatuhzz bI+ch plz
Al pal January 27, 2012 at 05:31 AM
your mother.
Al pal January 27, 2012 at 05:33 AM
@ "Dublin mommy" epic success to the editor. plenty of comments. evoked emotional response (from many idiots hehe) and tons of conversation. controversy can be good.
Al pal January 27, 2012 at 05:34 AM
get a snore guard. #trollin'

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