1. Taco Salad Bathrobe Guy
This Tarantino-esque weirdo stormed into the dining room a day or two after I got hired wearing nothing but boxer shorts, an undershirt, and an open bathrobe. In his left hand was a pot, like the kind you cook with. In that cooking pot was a taco salad, which I noticed the moment he slammed the cooking utensil down on the counter in front of me and shouted, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?” This gentleman had ordered “extra everything” on his taco salad, it turned out, and he was unsatisfied with the final results. Where the pot came from or why he felt the need to use it to present the salad back to us was anyone’s guess. It took every manager on duty at Taco Bell that hour to calm this guy down. Somehow, the altercation ended with no one getting assaulted or arrested.
2. Fountain Soda Guy
Seven foot tall overall-wearing farmer with a handlebar mustache larger than most billboards and a very pleasant demeanor. He’d usually request enough food to feed a small army, and the last item on his order was always “one fountain drink.” “Oh, and one fountain drink, please!” Like we sold anything other than fountain drinks at Taco Bell. Like this was the Five and Dime circa 1930 and we had a vast array of bottled seltzers behind the counter. Now that I think about it, this guy may have been a time traveler.
3. Super Mario Dad & His Perpetually Costumed Kid
This bald, middle-aged man who bore a frightening resemblance to everyone’s favorite video game plumber came in every Saturday and the occasional weeknight to chow down, usually with his entire family—wife, bored teenage daughter, and a young son who was ALWAYS wearing some kind of ridiculous Halloween costume no matter what day of the year it was. During my two years at the Bell, I saw this kid dressed as a fireman, a ninja turtle, a WWI doughboy, a Power Ranger, and a 1940s detective, just to name a few. I think it was ever-jubilent Mommy who let equally-jubilent Sonny Boy wear whatever he wanted. At least that’s what the long faces on Daddy and Sister seemed to suggest. I bet at least one of these people is in therapy right now as I type this.
4. Punk Rock Dad & His Extremely Hungry Kids
This portly and slightly frazzled dude stopped me in the parking lot on the way into TB one day because he noticed the Dead Kennedys sticker on the back of my car. He wanted to chew the fat about punk rock, despite the fact his kids were so hungry they were practically gnawing on my legs. Our conversation lasted way longer than it should have and I was pretty embarrassed when I had to explain to my manager the guy I was talking to in the parking lot who made me fifteen minutes late was a complete stranger. Punk Rock Dad visitied the Bell a few times, but his shining moment was the morning he came in with pictures of himself with Paul Cook and Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols circa 1980. I borrowed these pictures from him so I could scan them into my computer and upload them to my totally awesome Paul Cook fan website (the first thing I ever made on the Internet). I ran into Punk Rock Dad a few times outside the Bell over the years (including one strange encounter sans kids at Warped Tour ’98), but I never managed to get those pictures back to him. I still feel bad about that. Hey bro-ham, if you’re reading this, gimme a holler. I’ll mail those pics to you ASAP.
5. Car Full Of Jocks From My High School Who Demanded I Give Them Free Tacos
Self-explanitory. Tired of being dogged by these wieners during an already punishing drive-thru shift, I threw two handfuls of hot sauce packets into their backseat. This prompted them to come in and whip the sauce packets I had kindly bestowed up on them directly at my head. I sarcastically applauded the meatheads’ maturity while my co-workers wondered what the hell was going on.
6. The Drunk Guy Who Insisted I Looked Like Adam Sandler
One very late night, as I was sweeping up the dining room and getting ready to lock the doors, this drunk guy busted in with his girlfriend, spotted me, and began shrieking like Dane Cook after three vials of crack. “OH. MY. GAWD. YEW LUK JUSH LIKE ADAM SHANDLER!!!” I think for a moment he thought I was Adam Sandler and his mind started exploding. It was actually pretty funny. I mean, mistaking me for Adam Sandler is kind of like mistaking Cookie Monster for Henry Kissinger. Anyway, I tried to tell this inebriated fool our kitchen was closing and he had to leave, but he kept interrupting me with bits from Billy Madison. Eventually his less drunk girlfriend comprehended the situation and dragged Lumbering Sloshed Sandler Fan out of my restaurant.