I had never seen the local Arby's this crowded. That's more a function of my natural contrariness than it is the unpopularity of Arby's in the area, since I almost never go to a fast-food place during normal lunch hours (say, 11 am to 2 pm) or normal dinner hours (say, 5 pm to 8 pm). It's more convenient for me outside those hours, usually, what with there being shorter lines and more free tables and plenty of parking. But in this case it was crowded, with easily a half-dozen tables taken up when I entered -- it's not that big a place -- and a line of three people ahead of me. Well, more of a mob than a line; apparently everyone was just waiting for their orders, or waiting for the sake of waiting around. I was next by the standards of the cashier, anyway.
Later, as I was eating, I overheard a weird little encounter with the lady in the drive-through lane. I assume that she was in a car, but given the circumstances I'm not sure that's safe. Where I started to notice things was when the cashier asked if she had finally made up her mind what she wanted. ``Yes,'' she said. ``I want an Italian Combo, hold the meat, and hold the onions.'' The cashier asked if she also wanted the cheese held. ``Yes.'' No doubt suspecting a Bloom County scenario developing, if kids born after Bloom County stopped weren't old enough to be working as Arby's cashiers, the cashier said, ``That's ... lettuce on a bun.'' The woman answered, ``I don't want that.''
One of the other Arby's workers asked how long she had been there at the window. The current estimate was 300 seconds. The co-worker considered this a moment, and asked, ``Has anyone got a gun?'' Unfortunately I was snorting into my curly fries enough that I didn't get to hear what she did order, if anything. one of the Arby's folk complained that the woman's order had been ``inhumanly impossible'', and got a lot of razzing for loading so many in- prefixes (infixes?) into her description. I think it's a fair estimate, though.
Trivia: In 1876 Frederick Henry Harvey proved the concept for his railroad-line restaurant chain with a room in the Topeka, Kansas, station of the Santa Fe Railroad. Source: The Story Of American Railroads, Stuart H Holbrook.
Currently Reading: The House That Roone Built: The Inside Story of ABC News, Marc Gunther.