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Monday, September 3, 2007
In Flagstaff, Everyone went to Jack in the Box (except me, I think). It was probably the only 24 hour food joint besides Denny to hit up after the bar scene. This was for another class my Senior year to describe the encounter:

2 a.m. Saturday. The busiest spot in town yields itself to the mass of drunkards spilling out of Flagstaff's spirited bar scene. Carpools of people drive into a single-file line and wait to place their order, whether to feed a hungry stomach or to temporarily fix the cotton mouth they are currently experiencing from saliva that has been sucked away by the ounces of alcohol consumption earlier in the evening.

A heavily pounding bass-line echoes through the window of a white Toyota 4Runner. At least one occupant of the vehicle is clearly a fan of rap music. The song title is insignificant. Pick one... they all have the same perpetual thump...thump...thump.

A jack in the Box employee hands a white, crinkled bag to the driver.

"Thank you, Hun" she says. "Ya'all have a good night."

A day-old shade of coffee peaks through the crevice of her chapped lips. Her smile displays the picture of poor dental health, although she appears only to be in be in her mid-forties. She adjusts her glasses, throws her long, dirty-blonde ponytail behind her shoulders and presses the black button on her headphones to take the order of the car awaiting her attention at the menu board.

Cheesecake, Big Texas Cheeseburger, Egg rolls (3), French Toast Sticks (4) (with syrup, up course). How can one fast-food chain offer such a distinguishing array of food 24 hours of the day? What exactly is a Taquito? And what makes a Monster Taco so monstrous?

"It's twice the size of the regular," says Justin Simison, a regular after-hours customer at 'Jack in the Crack.' "You can get two regular-sized tacos for cheaper, but I don't really want those."

He falls into habit and yells his order out the window.

"I'll have a number 11, large, with curly fries and a Coke, low on the ice," he says.

"Anything else, Hun?" replies the feisty employee at the other end of the speaker.
"Yeah...," says Simison. "A monster taco."

The green Civic just ahead is now rocking back and forth. The five girls inside the Honda are dancing vigorously. They are, at least, as bouncy as one can be when crammed tightly into a compact car. The blond driver tips her head back in her seat and squeals with laughter into the crisp October air seeping into her automobile. The crimson brake lights flicker in unison with the song's tempo as the car jerks forward in line.

The sorority-like blond shifts her attention out the car window to the blue pick-up truck stopped one car-length ahead. The mangled tailgate displays an 'f,' 'r,' and 'd' cross its back. The 'o' has been covered up by a black and white smiley-face bumper sticker. The driver is in his early twenties, with dark tousled hair and chocolate brown eyes. He turns his attention back to the blond in the civic and smiles.

The minute that ensues comprises of the following events:

1. The blond flutters her heavily made-up eyelashes and coos words of flirtation at the chocolate-eyed driver who is easily within ear shot.

2. The boy in the Ford truck raises his left eyebrow and blushes as his foot slips off the break pedal. The split second of ignorance causes him to bump ever-so-lightly into the white Toyota Camry in front of him. Clink.

3. The dark-haired boy, startled, turns his awareness to the front of the line to regain his composure. The break lights give off an intense scarlet glow. A girl with messed hair sits up quickly in the front seat and rubs her eyes. She resituates herself against the passenger-side window and falls effortlessly back to sleep.

The light-locked girl in the Civic turns to her friends, who have been eagerly watching the entire incident, and joins them in a cooperative scream that rattles throughout the fast-food parking lot.

"Oh my god," screams a back-seat brunette through her incessant laughter. "Oh my god!"

The baseball-capped driver in the Camry turns around and scowls at the instigator behind him. The brown-eyed boy crooks a sideways smile and offers up a hesitant wave as if to say, 'I'm sorry,' without actually voicing the words.

Irritated and angry, the fair-haired man in the white hat steps out of his vehicle and marches back to have a look at his bumper. His body is stacked with muscle and on his short frame (under 5'7"), his physique looks exceedingly burly and intimidating. The blue Abercrombie T-shirt he is wearing stretches tightly across his arms and shoulders. Although annoyed, he discovers that his bumper remains intact, with no damage done.

The beefcake gives the offender one last dirty look, then swaggers back to his driver door, the frayed ends of his jeans sweeping the dirty cement. The clutch sounds. He races forward in his Toyota to the fast-food window.

"That'll be $8.72," says the woman.

The annoyed driver pays the attendant, snatches his food and speeds off hastily into the night.

Three cars away from the window now, the digital clock placed high on the wall is visable through the thick window containing the kitchen.

Each order is timed, from the moment the car stops at the drive-up window, to the instant the food leaves the establishment. Twenty seconds now. Twenty-five. Twenty-seven. Twenty-eight. Thirty seconds is a long time to wait when there is a vast procession of hungry people sprawled past the parking lot, just short of Milton Avenue.

Finally, at 1:38 on the digital timer, the blue Ford takes off with their food and the clock resets itself to zero. Two more cars to go.

Sixteen seconds. The transaction between the pony-tailed lady and the owner of a black Nizzan just ahead the clown-car full of girls is brief. With the exact change given and just a Coke in tow, the driver takes off swiftly. One more car.

The five girls are a different story.

"Where's my Sprite? I wanted Sprite, not Root Beer," says a pixie-haired blonde in the passenger seat as she carefully assesses the bag's contents. "And where's Michele's cheeseburger?"

The late night/early morning employee switches out their order and the girls leave happily. The clock flips from 2:41 back to zero.

Pulling up to the window, the woman anticipates the oncoming exchange. Eleven "Huns' later, the gas pedal is engaged, a few curly fries are consumed, and the window isrolled up electronically by a black button near the dash. All rap music, laughter, and conversations are silenced by a thin plate of glass. Tomorrow night, the driver's window will be rolled down again; same time, same place, same order.



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I'm Sami Jo From Denver, CO, United States Samantha loves to travel, lose herself in a good book, practice yoga at her favorite local studio, The Yoga Mat, and connect with friends, old and new. Her love of working with creative minds extends into her personal endeavors, as well. She and her husband conduct a project called "Songs For Jake," a music collaboration channel designed with the simple mission of getting great songs to one really big music lover. Through her business, Roger Charlie, Samantha focuses on publicity and management, working closely with authors, musicians, and creatives who find value in a more personal approach through communications.
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