Change is the name of the game for me these days, and I, for one, am not happy at all with it.
I reflected on this fact today while standing in line at this little taco joint in my old neighborhood. This taco stand has not changed much in the fifty-four years it has been in existence. Well, I take that back. Its most recent remodel was back in the 70’s which left it painted ghastly shades of burnt orange and browns.
There is never a time of the day or evening during the shack’s business hours when there is not a line at every window six to eight people deep. The neighborhood loves this place. I have friends who, like me, started coming here as children. They may live in other states now, but when they come to town for a visit, they make a bee-line to this place.
When you enter this establishment, it may at first seem to be a chaotic free-for-all. However, there is a system if you just slow down and look for it: First, you stand in one of the aforementioned deep queues. Then you place your order, step aside to stand in a free-form crowd of people who have also just placed their orders, and wait for yours to come up. When you see your order, you work your way through the mob back to counter, pay for your food, and finally work you way back out of the crowd to one of the picnic tables outside. They do not employ a number system or give you a pager that buzzes when you order is ready. You have to remember who took your order and watch for that person. That means, you have to look at the counter person, engage with that person, actually even say “hello, how are you today?” to that person. You are not talking into the head of a clown or using an app on your smart phone to send in the order. You have to get personal.
Furthermore, there is a sign on their wall that says “Cash only” — just good old-fashioned greenbacks slapped down on a formica counter-top. Oh, and get this: for as long as I can remember, if you get change back greater than 50 cents, they pay it using Kennedy half-dollars. I don’t know of any other place of business that pays out Kennedy half-dollars.
So my point: I rejoice that there has been no change in this establishment in all these decades, and there seems to be large numbers of people like me who don’t seem to mind that it has not changed in over fifty years. In the maelstrom that is my life at the moment — when unwanted and unexpected changes are making me a tad bonkers– I seek out this little island of consistency and tradition for a little grounding. I pull up to this taco stand just off the 405 and partake of a little tried-and-true comfort food.
lgloyd (c) 2013