Sunday, April 06, 2008

“Can I get a hot dog with sauerkraut… and just a little bit of chili?”

“Uhhhh….” The teenager working the concession stand at the track looked at Adelphia like a deer in the headlights. Finally he turned to his supervisor, a lunchlady type, to get the answer.

“No,” Lunchlady said.

“No? You’re out of chili?” Adelphia said. She glanced at me. We had seen that the last customer had chili oozing off their hot dog. Looked kinda sloppy, but we were starving and craving gross greasy junk.

“We’d have to charge you for both toppings,” the kid said. He seemed to apologize, or just completely unsure of how to do his job.

I could see Adelphia wanted to question these hash-slinger’s inability to distinguish between no, you can’t have it, and no, you may not have it for free, but I had a simple solution. Or so I thought.

“Okay, tell you what. Give her one with just sauerkraut, and gimme one with everything on it.” There’d be enough sludge on mine to share with Adelphia.

When I got my hot dog, there was chili, onions and peppers.

“No sauerkraut?”

“No,” the teenager said, “it doesn’t go with the chili.”

It doesn’t go? What? Is this condiment etiquette? Red wine doesn’t go with fish and chili doesn’t go with sauerkraut? Well, I don’t care. I’m willing to make a frankfurter faux pas. Wiener protocol be damned.

“But I wanted sauerkraut.”

“Oh,” he said, and proceeded to make me a new hot dog… with just sauerkraut on it.

“No, no, you don’t understand. I wanted sauerkraut, too. I wanted sauerkraut and chili and everything.”

“I gave you everything,” he said, referring to the old hot dog that was no nowhere to be seen.

“Yeah, but there was no sauerkraut.”

“Everything doesn’t come with sauerkraut.”

I thought of the Steven Wright line: You can’t have everything; where would you put it? The answer is: On my friggin’ hot dog.

“I think we’re defining ‘everything’ differently,” I said. I pointed up at their sign that listed toppings. “‘Chili, cheese, sauerkraut, onions, peppers.’ I wanted all of that. Come to think of it, there was no cheese on that either.”

That’s when Lunchlady jumped in, snarling at me with several seemingly unrelated remarks. “There’s no sauerkraut in everything.” What? “Each topping is seventy-five cents.” Okay, I’m willing to— “We don’t have time for this.” Time for what? To slop a few topping onto my hot dog, or to keep making no sense?

I looked behind me. No one else was waiting in line. I’m guessing others knew not to try eating at the Abbot & Costello concession stand at Santa Anita.

I joined Adelphia, bringing two hot dogs with only sauerkraut.

“What happened to the chili?”

Now it was me who looked like a deer in the headlights. “I… don’t… know.”

Yesterday at Santa Anita I could look at all the numbers on the Daily Racing Form and factor in past performances, race distances, equipment changes, breeding and training… to hit the trifecta twice in a row. Made a little money. I can handle playing the ponies.

But trying to get what I want on my wiener is a different story.


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