Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gas Station Special

Friday May 14th and Saturday May 15th 2010
Mobil On The Run, Rolla, MO
Pilot Travel Center, Paducah, KY

Gas station meals can be a hard road to walk down, but sometimes out on the ol’ road like this you might be running late for the show and there are few other options. You gotta take a deep breath, prepare to get a little crafty, and jump into the situation no matter how dismal it may seem.
Maybe you just don’t care, your into it, and you stroll through those doors all tough, walk right to the back of the room, and straight up barehanded you grab a greasy, foamy, rotating cave age hot dog out the ‘grill’, slap it between those buns, and you start chomping. Or maybe eating healthy is on your mind. That’s when you really gotta get clever. Very few even pseudo-healthy items can be found at a gas station. A V-8, some granola bars, an old withering piece of fruit, that’s generally about the best you’ll do in most situations.
Occasionally you might be lucky enough to pull into the one usually unassuming gas station that actually cares and went the extra mile. They’ve got decent somewhat fresh sandwiches, loaves of bread, cheese, real fruit, maybe they’re selling fried chicken at the counter or something. That’s a rare and glorious situation that I believe deserves a moment of silence as a show of appreciation, because you usually end up encountering places like this just when Pop Tarts started to sound like a viable dinner option, then your face to face with a turkey sandwich and some grapes and you realize how far gone you were for a minute there. Total reality check.
This On The Run mart we stopped at on the way to St Louis...well, at least they tried. A lot of places will have some nasty egg salad sandwich in the cooler sealed in a plastic box, I never trust those. On The Run had a nice center display cooler with a lot of different sandwiches all wrapped up. Granted they were wrapped up in paper so you couldn’t see them, which I should have taken as a hint, but I was starving and must have convinced myself it would have been ok. I considered the Italian sub, but decided on the spicy chicken and cheese sandwich for only $1.50, then I saw that chicken biscuits had been marked down from .99 cents to .50 cents. Naturally, I doubled up, because sometimes I’ve expected the worst from these things and then gotten a special treat, you never can tell with these places.

I should have known better and eaten the 50 cent chicken biscuit first, because I might not have noticed how bad it was, and then the spicy with cheese would have been this incredible delicacy, but I switched it up, finishing and not being disgusted by the spicy sandwich, and then being simply repulsed by the biscuit. Here I am almost a week later writing about it and its putrid taste flushed back into my mouth at the mere mention of it, now I’m going crazy on pretzels and water trying to get rid of it. I resold my remaining 2/3rds of it at full cost to Rick, who proceeded to read the ingredient list to me. After too many initial ingredients he finally got to “...chicken breast, seasoning...”, but he said it in a way that I didn’t catch the presence of the comma, and briefly thought and found it completely feasible that there was only the flavor of chicken breast in this and no actual meat. I inquired and there turned out to be a comma, but the placement of ‘chicken breast’ in the overall list was still a little disturbing.

Next day, same awful situation. Drifting around a price gouged Pilot Travel Center in dreary Paducah, Kentucky, uncertain of why we stopped the van in the first place. I looked at the donuts for a while, I glanced over the drinks, but when you think about it there isn’t really a point to getting either of those things. I had my eye on the dogs. I didn’t want it there, but that’s where it was. And I figured I’d go for the gusto and really prove a point with this one, so I grabbed a cheddar cheese infused bratwurst, loaded it up with the most watery ketchup I may have ever had a dealing with, and then hit the fixin’s, hooking myself up with sauerkraut, tomato chunks, onions, and banana peppers. Knowing a cleansing would be necessary after this beast, I picked up a real banana as well, hoping it would act as an antidote and counteract the poisons.
“You know hot dogs are two for $2 dollars right?”, The lady cashier informed me.
“Yeah, that’s alright.”, I told her.
“Well they’re $1.50 separately. You sure?”
“Yeah, I’m ok.”
“And banana’s too, those are 2 for a dollar...”, Christ lady! You want me to eat this ‘meal’ twice?! I did that yesterday! This is sheer madness. But I’ll be honest, as long as you didn’t look at it too much, the brat was pretty awesome, and the banana did help me feel normal again afterwards.

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