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Friday, 10 October
Food, Or Something Like It

Wednesday, I was not required to go to rehearsal, but the wife was, leaving me to take care of myself for the evening . . . never a good thing. I'm hardly the first person to realize that cooking for oneself basically sucks, but more to the point, when I am left alone to deal with food, chances are that I'm going to succumb to (1) my horrific laziness and (2) my shocking lack of will towards resisting my shameful, embarrassing urges.

To get right to the nitty, this is why I found myself at Taco Bell.

Oh, Taco Bell! Thou giver of eighty-nine cent food cylinders! How thy quasi-beef tastes of newspaper! May your bathrooms continue to overflow with quivering junkies!

Jesus, Taco Bell. Why I feel the urge to eat their terrible food is a total fucking mystery to me; food-wise, a Taco Bell is basically just a soup kitchen with moxie. And yet I eat their dire food.

Anyway, the other night while I was waiting for my dinner to be extruded, my eyes wandered to behind the counter, where I beheld the dreaded Employee Bulletin Board. I noticed that the poor fuckers who work for Taco Bell evidently have to participate in something called "CHAMPS!" There it was in big bright letters for all to see, in violation of all human decency or shame: the corporate sadists at Taco Bell and Human Cheerlessness Inc. not only makes their doomed, miserable employees participate in something so horrendously lame that it is actually called "CHAMPS!", they also make sure to post it in such a way as to make everyone else aware of it too. The "CHAMPS!" sign was easily the most depressing thing I've seen in months, and remember that I have seen the new season episodes of "The Practice."

A little Googling reveals that "CHAMPS!"--can you imagine what kind of wretched videos the employees have to endure?--is an acronym. It stands for Cleanliness, Hospitality, Accuracy, Maintenance, Product Quality, and Speed of Service.

My Taco Bell gets the highest possible marks in not achieving any of the listed "CHAMPS!" goals, making my Taco Bell employees CHAMPS! indeed in my book, as I feel that insulting, childish corporate motivational projects are designed solely to be subverted at every turn. I mean, honestly. What adult (or even teenager) wants to be addressed on a Special Olympics level, for Christ's sake? "Can our widdle empwoyees be CHAMPS? Can they? I think they can! Who's a CHAMP? Who's a CHAMP? I think it's yo-ouu!"

Horrible. Which is why I applaud my Taco Bell employees wholeheartedly. They are so not CHAMPS. Right on, Lucille! You shouldn't wash your uniform! Ever! And Terry--who so indifferently dumped my food into that damp bag--don't lose your surliness! And to whoever the manager is--maybe that guy sitting sullenly in the El Camino, chainsmoking and staring fixedly at the dashboard--KUDOS on closing down the drive-up window! I really like the sign that says "GO AROUND"! Oh, fuck it, here's to the whole staff: You have the worst Taco Bell ever! Your grime is insistent and implacable; your employees are visions out of Solzhenitsyn; you never, ever fail to ignore my frenzied pleas for hot sauce; and it is fucking rad in the extreme when I stand at the counter, waiting to order, and you brazenly stand in the back doorway, in full view, unhurriedly finishing your cigarettes. For all these reasons, I love you all, and this is why I come back, time and again.

You are truly CHAMPS!

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


You should get a spy camera, and record a visit to Taco Bell from Hell sometime. Send it to corporate headquarters, and you're looking at free Taco Bell for life!

Wait, is that a good thing?

Comment number: 001584   Posted by: Ryan Waddell on October 10, 2003 11:54 AM from IP:

In that case, just about every employee of any fast-food or retail chain are CHAMPS! too.

Comment number: 001585   Posted by: Stacey on October 10, 2003 01:15 PM from IP:

Don't you go knocking my favorite fast-food place. I'd like to hear you name a better place to get shit-in-a-rag (comes with onions)

Comment number: 001586   Posted by: Gopi on October 10, 2003 02:21 PM from IP:

Excellent, Mr. Izzle. I couldn't have put it better.

Comment number: 001587   Posted by: David McCreath on October 10, 2003 02:45 PM from IP:

The only thing that makes bad food better is more of it. So Keep going back and it will seem fine - even recommended after awhile.

It's when you haven't had it for some period of time, it starts to sound good. Then you eat it and you realize that "gee that really sucked... what was I thinking?"

Comment number: 001588   Posted by: MojoMark on October 10, 2003 05:18 PM from IP:

I remember this Taco Bell well. Corner of Broadway and Soul-Crushing Limbo, if I'm not mistaken. With employees who spoon listlessly through the refried beans as if they're looking for the needle they just shot up with. Sorry: ...the needle up with which they just shot.

Comment number: 001590   Posted by: Joe on October 10, 2003 07:22 PM from IP:

I fucking love taco bell. Mmmmm. Shit. Gimme more. Goddamn chicken quesadillas and steak burritos and mmmmm.

Comment number: 001591   Posted by: i on October 10, 2003 07:31 PM from IP:

Employees each are
a single refried bean--
lardy but unique.

Together they roll
into a stale tortilla.
The essence of CHAMP.

Comment number: 001592   Posted by: Joel on October 10, 2003 08:43 PM from IP:

i have to deal with this shit on a daily basis as an employee of pizza hut. this post almost made me cry. because it ruined my day off probably.

and it's worse than you portray it. at least CHAMPS is somewhat tangible and measurable. now, in addition, we have Customer Mania--100% CHAMPS with a YES! attitude! Exclamation Point! i hate my fucking job!

Comment number: 001593   Posted by: nick on October 10, 2003 10:20 PM from IP:

After having worked there for my junior year of college, I present...Things you can get at Taco Bell besides food:

Food poisoning from HELL. (Not once, but twice!)

A tooth in your burrito, if you're lucky. Also a wad of hair in a quesadilla and a large piece of metal in a taco. We were only sued over the first one, though.

A spouse. Or more correctly, a former spouse. *convulse*

Comment number: 001611   Posted by: Candi on October 11, 2003 01:59 PM from IP:

I worked for Pizza Hut while home from college for a summer. I remember two things:
Once, some glass shattered into a huge pan of dough (about ten balls of raw dough that needed to rise for a few minutes) and we ended up just picking out the chunks and forgetting about it. Also, the manager was later fired and arrested for stealing after leaving IOUs in the safe. Oh, one more: I remember how much oil we put in the deep dish - something like eight full, huge squirts. It was disgusting.

Comment number: 001612   Posted by: daveblackwood on October 12, 2003 03:42 AM from IP:

I quit going to Taco Bell after noticing that the woman who was actually assembling the food worked with her tongue clenched between her teeth, and that I could see a glistening drop of saliva quivering on the end of her tongue, just waiting to fall into my MexiMelt. I left my place in line and haven't been back sense.

Sadly, I didn't notice this on my first visit to said location (in the food court at CNN Center in Atlanta.)

Comment number: 001635   Posted by: Vidiot on October 12, 2003 11:08 AM from IP:

I look at it this way: The filth builds up my immune system.

No. No I don't. Goddamn it. I'm always unobservant and your post here turned my stomach and now I can never eat that Taco Bell food again. And it's delicious.

Comment number: 001636   Posted by: Miel on October 12, 2003 12:25 PM from IP:

Taco Hell. Pizza Slut. Yack in the Box.

It's our national kwizine!

Comment number: 001637   Posted by: Mrs. Kennedy on October 12, 2003 12:26 PM from IP:

why on earth would you visit taco bell when there's a dicks just down the street?

dicks is not only better food... they're better to their employees. they don't do nearly so much of that stupid motivational shit, they just pay better than any other fast food place in town.

Comment number: 001640   Posted by: on October 13, 2003 09:28 AM from IP:

I am choking on my (badly made) Cuban sandwich reading this. I love your writing. Like you, I love Taco Hell. And like you, I don't know why! I think it's something in the meat seasoning.

I had a stint in restaurnat franchise marketing and I can tell you that CHAMPS is just one of the many fine programs tailoring the work ethics of our fast food/family dining population.

And thanks to Vidiot, I won't be eating at the Taco Bell at CNN Center.


Comment number: 001641   Posted by: j. brotherlove on October 13, 2003 11:27 AM from IP:

Why eat at Taco Bell when you can go to Taco Time and get a veggie burrito?? Man, they have good food (sunflower seeds in a burrito!) and I have it on good authority from a former employee that they are very clean and the food is very fresh.

Comment number: 001642   Posted by: Jennifer on October 13, 2003 11:48 AM from IP:

My unreliable memory claims that

a) that the specific Taco Bell you cite (I assume) once had an employee shot during a robbery, within the past ten years, possibly mortally

b) a junkie was indeed found dead there, date even more nebulous

It's like a little slice of any other American city, a place where we can visit where we came here from! I mean, can you imagine armed robbery of ANY OTHER business on Broadway? Sure, there's places that make more sense to rob, but is there a single instance of squalor more impressive?

I exempt, mind you, Jimmy Woo's, conveniently across the street and catty-corner, undoubtedly where the Taco Bell manager drinks.

Comment number: 001643   Posted by: mike whybark on October 13, 2003 05:47 PM from IP:

Goddamnit!!! I'm missing all this delicious food!! We, the poor and downtrodden of Europe, do not have Taco Bell.
So basically, I'm living vicariously through you. Please write more about fastfood places and make me happy (I think).

Comment number: 001644   Posted by: Anna on October 14, 2003 03:48 AM from IP:

My pet conspiracy theory:

In late '93, screechy-voiced journaliste provocateur Nardwuar the Human Serviette asked Kurt "And I swear that I don't have a gun" Cobain what his favourite thing about Canada was.

Kurt: "Well... uh, they don't have Taco Bell."

Within a year, Canada had numerous Taco Bells. And Mr Cobain? Dead. Draw yer own conclusions.

Comment number: 001655   Posted by: arto on October 14, 2003 10:14 PM from IP:

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