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Showing posts from August, 2009

The Raging Controversies at the Swiss Wine Festival Celebrity Grape Stomp

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Now, I'll be the first one to say I'm more than a little competitive (and if not, I'll at least say it before you do, so nyah!), so my competitive juices were bubbling and fermenting when I was invited to be a celebrity grape stomper at this year's Swiss Wine Festival in Vevay, Indiana.

I was one of 19 media types from Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville, and of course, Vevay. I made the journey down with my family, and met my fellow stompers, like Paul Poteet of WRTV Channel 6 (Indianapolis), Renaissance woman Julie Tam of WDRB Fox 41 (Louisville), and Jen Dalton and Tara Pachmayer of WKRC Channel 12 (Cincinnati), and other notable media types from Indy, Cincinnati, and Louisville. Other celebs included Arik Hartvig from PBS' Across Indiana, Taylor Bennett, and Joe Ulery from WIBC/Network Indiana, and Andy Ferguson from Vevay's own Froggy Radio.

The stomp was for charity, and each member was stomping for the charity of their choice. Ulery ended up winning the e…

Phone It In Sunday: The Cool Table's "The Zombie Variations: Episode 1"

I've known The Cool Table for a year now, having caught several of their shows at the Indy Fringe Theatre Festival. (I reviewed one of their shows last week.)

Apparently the kids at the Cool Table are on FunnyOrDie.com. Who knew? If you're ever in Chicago on a Tuesday night, be sure to check out one of their shows.

The Zombie Variations: Episode 1 is one of their offerings on FOD, and I love Kyle More's calm-yet-slightly-annoyed manner as the zombies are clamoring at the door (reminded me of the old SNL "Land Shark" bits).

The Zombie Variations: Episode I - watch more funny videos
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Pork Tenderloins: The Official Sandwich of the State of Indiana

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We serve big-assed pork tenderloins here in #Indiana at the #SwissWineFestival.

I was participating as part of the Celebrity Grape Stomp at the Swiss Wine Festival, thanks to my friend Kendal Miller, PR Coordinator for Switzerland County Tourism. We took a break after the festivities, and I enjoyed a nice big tenderloin. Best fair food ever.

Air Conditioned Port-A-Potties

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Air conditioned Port-A-Potties at the Swiss Wine Festival. Luxury at its finest! This ain't your daddy's Port-A-Potty.

Learning to Hate Horses in 3...2...1...

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Hey, Mom! I get to be in the Swiss Wine Festival parade! Wait, I'll be behind the what now?

Special salute to the worst job in any parade.

Florida Mom Picks Up Daughter on Horse, Principal Overreacts

In order to point out the stupidity of a Jacksonville school's student pickup policy, a Florida mom tried something new: she picked up her 8-year-old daughter from school on horseback.

But the principal refused to let the daughter leave on horseback, and instead sent the little girl home in a police squad car.

Deidre, who owns several horses and whose 3-year-old and 8-year-old children are competitive rodeo riders, said she wasn't about to sit in line for 1 - 2.5 hours while students were retrieved and escorted — one at a time — by a staff member.

According to a story on the WJXT News4Jacksonville website, Deidre (no last name given) and other parents are upset about a new parking policy at the Crystal Springs Elementary School. Parents are told to line up their cars, and sit and wait, while the children are retrieved by the staff, one frigging child at a time.

I'd be upset too. Back when I was a kid, we precious snowflakes were allowed to walk home or ride our bikes. Now, the…

Groundwork Suites is Outstanding Performance by Kenyettá Dance Company

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My 8-year-old daughter and I almost didn't go to the Groundwork Suites by the Kenyettá Dance Company. We had originally wanted to go to Blunder Construction, but they were sold out. We stood on the sidewalk in front of TOTS, and I wavered. Do we go, do we do something else? I borrowed someone else's program, saw that Groundwork Suites was playing in 8 minutes.

My daughter is from Haiti, and we have taught her to be proud of being black. She also loves to move, and has taught herself some basic gymnastics and dance moves, and is constantly in motion. She would, I reasoned, love to see a black dance troupe. So we raced down to the Earth House, got our tickets, and found our seats three minutes before show time.

When the entire dance troupe entered — no, flowed — into the room, my daughter grabbed my hand and started squeezing frantically. It was her signal for "I see other black people, and I'm feeling proud." (We worked this signal out when we first moved to Indiana…

It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle Plan

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It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle PlanErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009

Day 1 – Starting a new diet my wife wants me to try. So weak. . . need food. . . wasting away.

"It's not even breakfast time," says my wife. "Don't be so dramatic."

As if. Starting new diets are always hard. My body can sense when one is coming, and it fights with me, fights without knowing this is supposed to be good for me. I've tried being sneaky, not telling it when a diet is coming, but it always knows. Sometimes I think my body and my brain are conspiring against me, trying to undo my best efforts to get and/or remain healthy.

Today, it was grilled chicken salad with vinaigrette for lunch, a banana smoothie for a snack (ooh, snack?!), and stuffed green peppers with beef and rice.

"What is this?" I ask. (I like stuffed green peppers.) "I didn't think we were allowed to eat beef on a diet."

My wife says this is all about "clean eat…

Waiting With M. Godot: A Review of Love, Wine, and Redheads

I don't even remember what the show description was about. All I saw was the word "redhead," and I knew I wanted to see Waiting With M. Godot.

"Blah blah blah redhead blah blah blah."

I have a soft spot in my heart for redheads. It's the Scots-ophile in me.

So I went to M. Godot on Tuesday night to see what the big deal was, and if there was anything other than the promise of a redhead.

Loved it!

As a writer who primarily spends my day on the right hemisphere of my cranium, I have very romantic notions of love. Sort of the French ideal of love, which is what M. Godot, the waiter, tries to teach Jackson. (I know! Waited on by Godot?! Get it?)

Unfortunately, Jackson (Nick Foreman), an engineer, views love like an item on a checklist. Godot sees it as the ultimate achievement in life. Something to be treasured, revered, embraced, not a transaction to be conducted over a questionable wine. All he knew was that he thought he loved Danni, a playwright and temp office w…

PETA Wants to Buy Lighthouse as a Fish Empathy Center

I think PETA is getting into comedy, because their latest caper just screams hilarity.

They want to buy the Grand Haven lighthouse on Lake Michigan as its new anti-fishing campaign headquarters and memorial center, says the Detroit News. PETA applied to take over the lighthouse through a federal program that allows nonprofits to take control of the country's lighthouses as a way for the federal government to reduce operating costs.

"We want to renovate the Grand Haven lights as a memorial to the billions of fish killed annually by sport fishermen, as well as for their flesh (commercial fishing industry)," said Lindsey Rajt, manager of PETA's campaigns department. "We also want to make it a fun and educational place."

Muh-huh.

You know, I'm thinking we need a grain empathy center to commemorate the billions of tons of grains killed to make the granola PETA loves so much. We'll build it in an abandoned barn I saw a couple hours north of Indianapolis. And …

Wayback Wednesday: Animal Interspecies Dating, Sin or Civil Right?

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Animal Interspecies Dating: Sin or Civil Right?Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2004 (originally published week of December 2, 2004)

On Wednesdays, rather than rehashing a news story, I reprint one of my old columns. I've got 15 years' worth of the damn things, so there's no point in letting them sit moldering in a box in my garage. At least not the good ones.

Just when we thought we would get a much-needed rest from moral politics, a new emotion-charged controversy has reached a fevered pitch in Provo, Utah.

According to a recent story in the Associated Press, it started when Utah resident Susan Sewell tried to adopt a kitten from the Utah County Animal Shelter. That's when they learned that Provo law prohibits a dog and a cat are not allowed to live in the same house. It's possible for two dogs or two cats to share a residence, but that's as far as the law will go. And it's raised the hackles of some Provo residents. [Erik's note: This part …

Missouri Senate Bans Wrong Plastic From River. Scientists Roll Their Eyes.

Leave it to Missour-uh. Their heart was in the right place, but their understanding of science was, well, not.

The Missouri state government passed a law that would make it illegal to have polypropylene on many Missouri rivers. They meant to ban expanded polystyrene.

In effect, they banned Tupperware, but not Styrofoam, which was their original intention, says an Associated Press story.

While I understand this can by a little confusing to people, since the words almost sound the same — polypropylene, polystyrene — wait, they don't almost sound the same, unless you listen to the first two syllables and then quit paying attention.

The problem was that many people were bringing Styrofoam coolers onto the river, and then leaving them there, so they wanted to ban them. Instead, they banned the things you bring your cold fried chicken and potato salad in. Things which no right-thinking mother would abandon.

As a result, you can bring your Styrofoam coolers with impunity, but so help you, if …

The Cool Table at Indy Fringe Theatre Festival 2009

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I ate Lindsey Fisher's cookie.

The cookie in question, before your mind starts wandering, was a prop for a sketch she performed as part of the sketch comedy troupe, The Cool Table, at their fourth appearance at the Indy Fringe Theatre Festival. More on that later.

The Chicago-based troupe performs original sketches during each performance without repeating any during their entire Fringe appearance. What I saw tonight was not what they performed either of the last two nights.

I had the chance to see The Cool Table twice last year, and actually recognized a couple of this year's sketches from last year, not that I'm complaining. I remembered the Lollipop sketch from last year, and maybe one or two others, but I still had a great time.

The fantasy sketch was one that netted me some cookie. I bumped into The Cool Table at the Chatham Tap 30 minutes before the show. Since they remembered me from the year before, they invited me to join them for a drink (note to Goose Island: your 3…

Political Correctness Rears Its Ugly Head in Great Britain. Again.

It's a black day for the English language, unless you work in Great Britain.

I recently read on The (London) Times website that a number of public organizations, commissions, and nonprofits are all dropping certain words because they could be construed as sexist or racist.

Normally this would be an admirable effort. I'm all for getting rid of racism and sexism. But these organizations are just making knee-jerk responses to the words "black," "white," and "man."

Some of the words that have been blackballed are "whiter than white," "gentlemen's agreement," "black mark," and "right hand man."

Are you kidding me? This is what you're worried about? Rather than actually eliminating sexism and racism, you're going after this ticky-tack little crap? It's like putting a Band-Aid on a migraine, but only half as intelligent.

The Times reported that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has dropped the…

Phone It In Sunday: Sarah Haskins, Target Women: Doofy Husbands

I'm thinking we need to have a Sarah Haskins - Lisa Nova video smackdown. Sarah is wicked funny, Lisa has out-of-left-field ideas she executes very well. Who will come out on top, wry and dry or wild and wacky?



I may just have to run a poll. Look for that in a September Phone It In Sunday.

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Andrea Merlyn's Greatest Hits (and Missus) at the Indy Fringe Theatre Festival

I took my oldest daughter to see Taylor Martin's show, Andrea Merlyn's Greatest Hits (and missus!) at the Theatre on the Square 2 stage. It was a full house, and my first chance to see Taylor Martin (née Andrea Merlyn) perform, even though I've known him for over a year.

I enjoyed Taylor's illusions and jokes, and I was impressed by his ability to project his characters into magic. The fact that he did it all in drag made it even more funny. The thing I really liked and appreciated about Taylor's — that should be Andrea, actually — Andrea's show was her ability to recover from audience participants who. . . weren't quite what one would hope for in an audience participant (I can see why magicians will use audience plants instead of pulling people from the audience to help with a trick. Talking to you, Jennifer Sutton! ;-) ).

On the way home, my daughter and I talked about what magic means to a little kid, like her younger brother and sister, and how disappoin…

I made the LOL Celebrities Lineup on ICanHasCheezburger.com

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I usually make about 3 submissions a week to the I Can Has Cheezburger sites, like ROFLRazzi and Pundit Kitchen, but I never get enough votes to make the regular lineup.

Until Thursday.



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A 6-year-old Theatre Reviewer at the Indy Fringe Festival

Backer buttons: 3 dollars
Performance tickets: 10 dollars
Having your 6-year-old son say out loud what everyone else is thinking: priceless



Find more videos like this on Smaller Indiana


I took my family to the Indy Fringe Theatre Festival Preview night, and we watched several brief performances. While we all had our favorites — the kids loved Blunder Construction, my wife and I enjoyed Crossing the Bridge from Leonix Movement Theatre Ensemble, and I loved the Kenyetta Dance Company's Groundwork Suites.

We also watched Medea from the Butler University players as part of FringeNext. It's an adaptation of the original Greek tragedy by Euripedes, and it's not necessarily everyone's cup of tea, especially for my 6-year-old son.

He sat next to me, patiently, wondering what the hell this thing was about.

Watch the video, and listen closely around the 40 second mark.


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Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking, Or Be Judged

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Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking, Or Be JudgedErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2003

Erik is out of the office this week, and just finished speaking at a seminar last week, so we are pulling out an old column from 2003 about public speaking.

What is it about public speaking that scares the bejeezus out of some people?

Public speaking is considered such a horrible, terrible, awful ordeal that it frightens people more than snakes, spiders, or the words "President Paris Hilton."

According to the Book of Lists, more people cite public speaking as their worst fear, more than any other stressful event including death. Or as we speech teachers like to joke, people would rather die than give a speech.

Speech teachers have the sense of humor of a can of salmon.

So what's wrong with public speaking? Why can people talk to two friends about any topic for hours on end without the slightest nervous twitch, but they can't speak to more than five people without wetting t…

I'm a Celebrity Grape Stomper at the Swiss Wine Festival in Vevay, IN

I've been asked to be a celebrity grape stomper at the Swiss Wine Festival in Vevay, IN by my friend, Kendal Miller, PR coordinator of Switzerland County Tourism. (She's also a great photographer. Click the hyperlink on her name back there.)

The competition begins at 11:00 am on Saturday, August 29 right there in Vevay (pronounced "VEE-vee." Don't ask). If you're going to be in the area, swing by and cheer me on. If you're one of the competitors (especially them damn furriners what lives in O-hi-uh and Kintucky), well, this is one celebrity weekly newspaper humor columnist/blogger who plans on bringing home the bacon grapeskins for his home state.

So nyah!
Kendal says. . . (with some editing for length)We have 20 stompers signed up for the “First Annual Media Celebrity Grape Stomp for Charity” for Sat. Aug. 29 at noon.

Four stompers will go on the stomping stage at a time, so we’ll have five full rounds.

Although everyone is your competitor when you’re stompi…

Doug Karr Totally Looks Like Jason Falls

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For fans of I Can Has Cheezburger's Totally Looks Like website who are also fans of Doug Karr and Jason Falls, I present:

Doug Karr totally looks like Jason Falls



Need further proof? Here's me, Doug, Rodger Johnson, and Jason at BlogIndiana 2009.



One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just isn't the same.

Give up? Jason is from Kentucky, the other three are from Indiana. If you said "Rodger is much, much smaller," that is incorrect!

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Wayback Wednesday: Snakes Have Feelings Too, You Know!

Snakes Have Feelings Too, You Know!Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2003 (published week of June 6th, 2003)

On Wednesdays, rather than rehashing a news story, I reprint one of my old columns. I've got 15 years' worth of the damn things, so there's no point in letting them sit moldering in a box in my garage. At least not the good ones.

Scientists call them herpetologists. I call them weirdos.

People who watch snakes, study snakes and even — ick! — like snakes all descend on Narcisse, Manitoba every Spring to watch the Great Snake Awakening.

That's when thousands and thousands of allegedly harmless garter snakes -- some estimate as many as 70,000 -- slither out from the cracks in the limestone bedrock and do what snakes like to do: scare the bejeezus out of me.

I hate snakes. I don't just dislike them, I hate them with a white hot passion that's usually reserved for personal injury lawyers. I scream like a girl whenever I see one (a snake, not a lawyer),…

British Grandmother Sues Supermarket After Being Beaned by Pineapple

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If you're standing in a store, and another shop reaches for something, causing a pineapple to hit you in the head, who's at fault? The shopper? The pineapple? The store?

If you're Mary Raimo, a 76-year-old OAP (old age pensioner; a British term for "senior citizen), you sue the store.

Raimo is suing Tesco, a supermarket that has made some lovely boneheaded moves like banning helium balloons carried by small children. Needless to say, I don't like Tesco very much, but I think Raimo is in the wrong on this one.

Raimo was in her local store in Lochee, Dundee (Scotland), looking at some fruit on a shelf, while another lady was looking at the pineapples on the top shelf. That's when Raimo was bonked on the coconut by a pineapple. She dropped her basket and fell to the floor.

According to an article in the Daily Telegraph, Raimo says her vision was blurred and she couldn't think straight. (I'm not saying this is a symptom of a head injury, and I'm not saying…

"Oh Yeah? How Much Do You Hate Parsnips?" "A LOT!"

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Don Burke hates parsnips. And he hates people who like them. So he hates Donna Hay.

If you're not Australian, none of this means anything to you. Of course, if you are Australian, this still may not mean anything to you.

Don Burke is a well-known radio gardener in Australia. Donna Hay is a well-known TV chef in Australia.

Burke has caused something of an uproar in Australia — mostly because nothing ever seems to happen there — by slamming Hay and the Sydney Daily Telegraph after she published some parsnip recipes in the Sunday Magazine.

"Don Burke lashes out at Donna Hay over parsnips" screamed the headlines.

Burke even described Hay as "wretched" for serving parsnips, saying they weren't fit for pigs.

"I'm outraged, I'm angry, I'm upset, I'm crushed. I'm all of those things and a lot more," Burke said on his program. "If you get that appalling newspaper today, The Sunday Telegraph, and get out Sunday Magazine ... that wretched …

Phone It In Sunday: What if We Treated People Like Dogs?

From LisaNova and Rawn: What if we treated people like dogs?



The last few seconds show why humans have opposable thumbs.

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British School Student Given Certificate for Catching a Bus

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Bobby McHale will go far in his life. At least as far as the 8:35 to Downtown bus goes.

The 15-year-old school student received a certificate for catching a bus. His 13-year-old brother, Joe, did not fare so well. He failed this simple task.

According to an article in London's Metro website, Bobby didn't even realize he was being graded on this rather difficult and arduous task, so you can imagine his family's pride and joy at the letter he received.

A certificate from the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), a British exam certification board, arrived in the mail one day, notifying Bobby he had completed the "Using Public Transport (Unit 1)" assignment.

I don't know which is more frightening: that someone actually monitors these kinds of assignments without the student knowing it, or that there may be a Unit 2.

Completing the assignment included:
Walk to the local bus stop.
Stand or sit and wait for the arrival of a public bus
Enter the bus in a calm and sa…

A Cross-Country Coach Remembered

A Cross-Country Coach RememberedErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009

I'm not a young man anymore. I got a harsh reminder last week when my family and I went for a walk in our local park. As we walked back to the car, we got separated; my two youngest were with me, my oldest daughter and wife were a couple hundred yards ahead.

"Let's catch up with them," I said.

"How? They're so far," said my kids, so I started running. "Hey!"

Clearly they weren't expecting this. Or prepared for it, since they stopped after we had covered half the distance. My wife and oldest daughter spotted us and took off, so I kept running after them, the two youngest complaining about "all this running." Eventually, our eldest dropped off, and I chased my wife all the way back to the car.

"Come on, Erik, catch that guy," shouted my cross-country coach, Joe Rogers. "He's the only one between us and the championship!"

It was 1981…

Sign Making Fail Photo

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I took this photo while I was in Lincoln City, Oregon several years ago. It's a sign shop's, uh, sign.

I'm reminded of the saying about the shoemaker's children going barefoot. At least I hope that's what it is. Unless their specialty is crappy banners people take to ball games.

If you click the photo, you can vote for my photo so it can appear on the Fail blog front page.


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Wayback Wednesday: The Three Phases of Parenting

The Three Phases of ParentingErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2003 (published week of November 28th, 2003)

On Wednesdays, rather than rehashing a news story, I reprint one of my old columns. I've got 15 years' worth of the damn things, so there's no point in letting them sit moldering in a box in my garage. At least not the good ones.

I recently became a proud father for the third time, and although I love and adore my new son, I've noticed my standards for obsessive care and compulsive hovering have lowered quite a bit.

I've heard that most new parents will agonize over every little detail about doing what's best for their child, but that they relax significantly after the second and even third child come along.

I've even noticed my own constant worrying and stress has decreased to the point where my blood pressure is nearly normal, and I think my hair is growing back.

And after analyzing the charts and graphs that every new parent keeps, I've …

Syracuse, N.Y. Councilor's Re-Election Petition Short by One Signature. His Own.

We've all heard that every vote is important, that entire elections can be won and lost by one vote. The same is true for signatures.

Just ask Michael Heagerty, the Syracuse, New York Common Councilor, whose re-election petition was short by just one signature.

His own signature.

Heagerty needed 335 signatures on his re-election petition, but he only had 334, said the Syracuse Post-Standard. He was horrified to discover he had forgotten to sign his own petition.

Not all is lost, however. Heagerty will be on the ballot on the Working Families Party, and will be listed there in the general election. He can also run as an independent if he gathers at least 346 new signatures by August 18.

Heagerty and his volunteers originally had 398 signatures, but his Republican opponent Matt Rayo challenged the petition. The Board of Elections found 64 of the signatures were invalid.

Heagerty told the Post-Standard, "We got almost 400, and we figured we were good."

Heagerty isn't that worr…

Tulare, California Hates Lemonade, Small Children

Tulare, California joins the list of California cities that hates retail food stands run by children.

Tulare closed down a stand run by 8-year-old Daniela Earnest on the same day she opened it,. said a story in the Fresno Bee (official motto: "Don't swat at it, you'll just make it angry). She wanted to earn enough money for a family trip to Disneyland.

However, the city shut her down because she didn't have a business license.

Daniela and her stepmother, Marisa Earnest, were stopped when a Tulare code enforcement officer told them they couldn't be at the busy intersection, because it was not safe. He also said they needed a business license.

But when news of the city's tromping of a little girl's dreams made the news, a Visalia radio station, KSEQ Q97, offered Daniela and her family four free passes to Disneyland in exchange for 30 cups of lemonade.

After the outcry, Tulare is considering giving Oliver Twist some more gruel however. They are considering a compr…

Phone It In Sunday: Paulina looks for Wild and Crazy Nights

Part Borat, part Czech brother, YouTube comic Lisa Nova plays Paulina, interviewing people about their Wild and Crazy Nights.



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Portland, ME City Council Bans Shakespeare, Worried About Rowdiness

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There is to be no more Naked Shakespeare in Portland, Maine, because it might lead to rowdy crowds. Because as everyone knows, Shakespeare fans are just a bunch of degenerates prone to drunken debauchery.

Fat, drunk, and literate is no way to go through life, son.

According to an article in the Portland Press Herald, the city of Portland has a zoning rule that says bars cannot have an entertainment license within 100 feet of another bar with another license. And since the Wine Bar & Restaurant is next to a bar that already has one, the Acorn Productions' Shakespeare Ensemble may no longer perform their monthly Shakespeare readings for the patrons.

Verily, this is the dizzying pinnacle of beef-witted loggerheadedness.

Mike Levine, artistic director of Acorn Productions, told the Press Herald that because of the short-sightedness on the part of the city council, the entire ensemble may leave the city for some place less motley-minded.

"You would think it was something you shoul…

Ordering McDonald's Is Not That Complicated

Ordering McDonald's Is Not That ComplicatedErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2009

"Oh my God!" I exclaimed to my wife, slamming the car door.

"The kids are in the car," she said, reminding me not to go into one of my. . . colorful outbursts while little ears were within range. Then she saw the look on my face, and realized that ship was about ready to sail anyway. "What's the problem?"

I explained as calmly as I could, without sounding like Yosemite Sam in a hysterical frenzy. My youngest daughter and I had gone into McDonald's to get an iced tea, and a water for my youngest daughter. The rest of the family just wanted to wait in the car. When I got inside, we were in line behind 16 people and one open register. A family of six, followed by a group of 10.

The family of six was having trouble trying to order a simple meal, and since they were taking so long, someone opened up the other register, and the group of 10 — a church youth gro…