L.A. Ruminations
Cell Phone At The Drive-Thru
By Michael Coscia
Sep 1, 2003 - 2:01:00 PM

LOS ANGELES — Every once in a while I get a hankering for a Carl's Jr. Charbroiled Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich with fries. And if I'm feeling a bit daring, a bit adventurous, I will substitute the fries for onion rings. My taste buds get aroused just thinking about it. But like all good treats, I don't do it all the time for fear I'd lose that special connection and have to tread into the unknown territory of the Bacon Swiss Crispy Chicken Sandwich, or possibly the Western Bacon Cheeseburger.

The other night I was driving home after seeing "Seabiscuit" (which I recommend with two thumbs up!) when that special feeling came over me. At first I thought it was a twitch, an itch, but then it got stronger and harder to resist. I fantasized unwrapping the sandwich and slowly bringing it to my mouth when I wasn't paying attention and almost ran a red light. Horns were blaring and I was sweating. I needed Carl's Jr. and I needed it immediately.

Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News
No matter where I am in Los Angeles, I can sniff out a Carl's Jr., and sure enough, within minutes I was happily in line at the Drive-Thru window.

I was one car from the menu billboard where all the sandwich pictures tease and entice with their juiciness when I noticed the car in front of me. It was a green Volkswagen Passat (it needed a car wash badly). The driver, a young man, was on his cell phone. I thought it was very boy scout of him to call friends and bring them a Carl's Jr. treat.

Before I continue I must admit my love-hate relationship with cell phones. In Los Angeles they're everywhere and quite frequently, annoying - streets, parking structures, bathrooms, canyon trails, restaurants; you name the place and you're certain to hear a cell phone ringing. Sometimes I like to drive up Mulholland, park and listen to the chorus of cell phones ringing in the valleys below. For me it's a heavenly choir and a hellish cacophony all in one.

Back at Carl's Jr. I realized about four minutes had passed and the man was still on the phone. What could possibly take so long? I was afraid he was going to order the last Charbroiled Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich. I began to panic. What would I order?

Another few minutes passed and he drove forward to the cashier. I placed my order and luckily they had my favorite sandwich. I pulled forward.

The man was still on his cell phone. He was conversing with the cashier at the window and whomever was his cell phone connection. I watched. I waited. Then I noticed there was no exchange of money. There was no passing of a Carl's Jr. bag. He continued on the cell phone and didn't move. My suspicions got the best of me. Was he robbing the place? Was he going to pull out a gun?

I grabbed my own trusty cell phone and, like a good samaritan, I prepared to dial 911. I was ready. Nothing was going to come between me and my sandwich.

Trying to act inconspicuous I kept an eye on his activities while pretending to be singing along with the radio. "Miss Independent" by Kelly Clarkson was playing at the time. I took down his license plate number.

Suddenly he drove off. His little green VW Passat disappeared onto Santa Monica Boulevard.

I cautiously pulled up to the window. What was the reason for his strange behavior? Were my hunger pangs causing delirium?

The Carl's Jr. cashier told me the guy was too busy talking to order at the menu billboard and when he arrived at the cashier window he was still too busy talking to decide. I could not believe what I heard. He wasted everyone's time and for what? What could have been more important than a Carl's Jr. treat?

He was yet another example of a bad-mannered, self-centered, cell phone addict whose behavior is an insult to everyone around him. He should have his cell phone shut off until he learns better manners. Unfortunately that will never happen.

As I drove away with my Carl's Jr. bag snuggled in my passenger seat I secretly wished I would see the dirty, green VW Passat on my way home. I wanted to pull up beside it and throw fries at the windshield.

But then I figured, why waste the fries? He'd be too busy chatting to notice.

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