Monday, February 15, 2010

Chicken and Dunkin

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Days off are nice.  Today was President's Day, and as a result, I have three days off from The Happiest Place in the Mall, yesterday being Day One, today being Day Two and Wednesday being Day Three (I was scheduled for work today, and being off tomorrow, but a Magical Higher Up is taking a Magic Carpet to The Happiest Place in the Mall, and I needed to be there and... well, doesn't matter...)

Days off are nice. 

This morning, I did have to spend the first five hours of my days at Starbucks, slingin' some coffee and makin' some caffeine dreams come true, but after 10am, I came home, did some stuff around The Cabana, and by 1130, I finally made my way upstairs.  My intent was to take a shower, then get dressed, maybe watch a movie.  I just purchased "Rather Unimpressive Illegitimate Children" and "The Hangover" on Blu-Ray (neither are Emmy Turnbow safe, so beware), so I could watch either of them... or I could watch the two episodes of WWE: Raw on DVR, including the one after the Royal Rumble... or I could read some of the book I'm trying to dive into, and have made it to page 11 in a week...  and what did I do?

I took a nap.  I don't think I meant to, but I laid down on my comfy bed, with absolutely nowhere to be today and closed my eyes and... when I opened them again, it was a few minutes after 2pm.  And I felt wonderful.

See, days off are nice.  But, Wednesdays aren't as nice to have off as Mondays.  On Wednesdays, even if I have off, many times I have to be at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) for KidStuf practice or for any number of things.  Sometimes I'm not working at The Happiest Place in the Mall, but have to be at Starbucks at 5p or 6p or whatever, so while its a day off, I still have somewhere to be.  Not today.

Around 2pm, I finally threw the blanket back (I don't even think I moved from the position I laid down in, but I did emit a strong stench of Caffe Verona and Zen loose leaf tea) and finally got a shower, and finally got dressed and realized... wow, I'm hungry. 

The Lovely Steph Leann and I had lunch yesterday (Sunday) with St'ray and C'ray after church, visiting O'Chuck's in Alabaster, and... well, we probably ate too much.  It wasn't too much at O'Chuck's, but adding on the Coldstone Creamery dessert probably did it.  As a result, by 8pm last night while The Lovely Steph Leann was mesmerized by the Olympic Icy Gay Dancing on TV, I blogged a bit, even nodding off a few times.   Admittedly, I was talking to Amarilys by Morning (up from San Antone) on Facebook, comparing "wipe out" notes on the moguls going on, but beyond that, I tuned out.  The point is, we weren't hungry.  By the time we were a little hungry, it was kinda too late to eat anything, so we both went to bed without supper.

And my whole point is that I've gone from 1pm Sunday afternoon to about Monday at 230p with no food, save for a Panera bagel that MZ brought us at Starbucks.  So, I'm hungry.  What to eat?  Well... I heard there was a brand new Bojangles Chicken Establishment in Pelham, a nearby suburb of The Ham, so I thought, "Hey, that sounds good.  I'll try it out!"  As I drove that way, I thought about the Dunkin' Donuts that I'd pass on the way, and thought on the way back, I'd stop in there as well.

By 3pm, I pulled into the mostly empty Bojangles parking lot.  Understand, I'm a big fan of Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits, not to mention Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits is a mere five miles from The Cabana, so for me to want to haul my happy tail 12 miles through Birmingham traffic, Bojangles is going to have to be some good eatin'... and I had my hopes high.  My best mate Wookiee even mentioned once that he heard they would have Cheerwine in the fountain as a drink option... life could not be better if that were in fact the case.  In fact, if this restaurant served Cheerwine out of the fountain, I might actually have come home and began open discussions with The Lovely Steph Leann about how The Cabana isn't what we want, and how we should consider making a move out to the Pelham/Alabaster area... but alas, I can already tell you that I won't be calling our real estate agent anytime soon.

I walk in, and the place looks clean... and new.  Which it is.  The drink fountain is on the far end, and there is even a red label on one of the drinks.  Cheerwine?  Maybe?  Maybe?!   They've got a food bar there at the counter, where you order and they serve your food right in front of you.  I stand back for a minute to study the menu, one I've never seen, to decide what I want to eat.  I'm hungry, but don't want to overdo it, saving room for Dunkin' later. 

The girl behind the counter is named Jamerica, she looks to be about 16 or 17, and behind her, doing the serving is another guy with dreadlocks under his Bojangles cap, sans name tag.   Here's the conversation:

Jamerica:  Can I help you?
d$:  Yes, I don't see it on the menu (I point to the big sign close to the front door) but I do want to get the combo there on the sign, the first one.  The 2pc leg & thigh meal.  I'll get macaroni and cheese as my "fixin", please.

Jamerica is at the register, but Dreads is right behind her, poking at her or something.  She turns around, pushes him away, and playfully says, "Stop it now!  I'm trying to take his order!"  She turns back to me.

Jamerica:  Yeah, I'm sorry, he won't quit messing with me!  Now, sorry, I didn't get anything you just said.  What did you want now?
d$: (I point again to the sign) I'd like to get the 2pc leg & thigh meal, with macaroni and cheese, please.
Jamerica, to Dreads: Stop it now!  (back to me) Okay, so you got the leg and thigh meal... and what you say you fixin' was?
d$: The macaroni and cheese.

Jamerica is slowly punching this in her register... it reminds me of Sinbad's old joke about how fast food employees are not the brightest cookies in the Oreo pack, and how nowadays the registers just have picture of the food on the keys, and they just push that button.  While she pushed buttons slowly, Dreads stood there, looking at her slowly punching the buttons.

Jamerica:  Ain't you gonna fix his order?
Dreads: I was waitin' for you to ask (ax?) him whether he was taking it to go or dining in!
d$, without being asked:  I'm dining in.
Dreads:  Oh, okay!

Jamerica swipes my card, which I take back as quick as possible for fear that she swipes it a few times any my $5.40 meal becomes $37.83.  Dreads, to his credit, selected two large pieces of chicken amongst some of the smaller pieces, then looked confused.  Apparently there were two receipts to be given... one to me, showing my purchase, and one to Dreads, showing the actual order.  Mind you, this was pretty simple.  He'd already put the correct pieces of chicken on the plate, so the work was 75% over at this point, he just needed the mac and cheese.

Dreads, looking back at Jamerica:  Hey, 'merica!  Where that receipt at?
Jamerica:  I gave (gay?) you that receipt!
Dreads: No you didn't!  I didn't get no receipt!
d$: Um, I can tell you what I had. 
Dreads: Okay, what you have?
d$: Mac and cheese.  Please.
Dreads:  Oh, that's right!

Dreads would never, ever, never make it at Starbucks.  The first moment that he stood there at the espresso bar, cup in hand, wondering what he was supposed to make would the be the first moment MZ would punt him out the drive thru window.  Actually, I have worked with baristas like that... they don't last long.

Dreads picked up the scooper (!) for the mac and cheese, scoops some out for my plate, then tosses the scooper down, saying, "Man!  That's so hot!  That thing is hot, man!"  I sigh, and finally get my plate of food.  I would have paid an extra $2 to come back there and serve myself, even on the understanding that I could only get the proper amount given.

I was handed my cup, and turned toward the drink fountain.  They've got the regular Pepsi products like Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper and... Cheerwine?  No.  The red label reads "Patio Red Cherry Soda".  Patio?  What the Ellen DeGeneres is a Patio Red Cherry Soda?  Seriously?  Well, what the heck, maybe I'll discover something awesome here.  I fill up my cup with Patio Red Cherry Soda and ice, and take a drink and immediately dump it out.  It was absolutely disgusting.  I look over and see the big vat of tea, that reads "BOJANGLES LEGENDARY SWEET TEA"... well, heck, if its legendary, let's try it.  I would be good to know how it stacks up against Milo's and Zaxby's, two of my favorite sweet teas in town. 

Empty.  The vat was completely empty.  Not even a droplet.  I do that thing where I rinse my cup using the water tab that is attached to the lemonade, and I just fill it up with Mountain Dew.  By the way, I just Googled "patio red cherry soda" and I got nothing.  Like, pictures of tomato cherries came up, along with a few pictures of old bottles and bottlecaps that have Patio Diet Cola and Sun Crest Cherry Soda on it. 

As for the meal, it was okay.  The chicken was pretty good, but not brilliant, and it had big clumps of spice in various places, like it was sitting on the bottom of the pan soaking up the spice powder.  Using the spork wasn't much fun either.  The mac and cheese was nothing special, it was like any other place that does semi-fast food mac & cheese, so while it wasn't great, it was decent.  I liked it better than some other places, but it didn't beat Kraft homemade by any stretch.   The biscuit was hot, but again, not great.  Just good.  Popeye's biscuits beat it hands down... and for that matter, Bojangles was on par with Popeyes, maybe a little under, and definitely not worth the long drive to get there, passing a Popeye's on the way.

I left Bojangles, headed back up Highway 31 with a semi-full stomach, turned onto Highway 119 and pulled into Dunkin' Donuts.

Let's be honest... yes, I work at Starbucks.  And despite the efforts by Dunkin' Donuts to make themselves into this coffee entity, they and Starbucks are two different products.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that many of you like Dunkin' coffee, sometimes even better than Starbucks...

Sidebar... okay, what is it about our nature that makes us want to tell people that while we enjoy the fruits of their labor, we like other fruits as well and sometimes better?  Not only that, every time anybody gets a Starbucks rumor, they like to email it to me with the note "I can't believe Starbucks would do this!" (Kathy Compton, I'm talking to you), and I've had people actually tell me, "Man, I love Starbucks, but I went to Dunkin' Donuts, and their coffee is so good!  They put the cream in it for you--you know, Starbucks doesn't do that--and they know just how to do it and..."

What would Amarilys by Morning (up from San Antone), who runs a small pottery business, think if I told her, "You know, I like your shop, Painted By U, but I went into Sips n Strokes and they have this deal that you don't have, and they know just how to kiln that pottery and..."  That would make me a dorky dorkface.   Just sayin'.

...and so in that, I like Dunkin' Donuts.  They've been known to wear shirts that say "Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Starbucks", which I think is kinda unclassy... but their donuts are great.  As soon as I walked in, there was a line ahead of me.  The little cafe was full of people, many of them sitting around the tables with a box of half-dozen donuts between them.

There's a big cooler there with Coke products (which I'm in favor of at Starbucks... not fountains, but serving them in the bottles), and the place is full of color and life.  There were little stands around the cafe featuring the "Box O'Joe" coffee boxes, some featuring the bags of coffee and other treats and such.  The line moved rather quickly, and when I got to the front, I immediately chose a manager's special (a chocolate covered, vanilla cream filled donut) and then a Bavarian cream filled donut.  FYI, if you are ever wanting to get into the great graces of d$, and are choosing donuts as your weapon of choice, Bavarian cream works.  Every time.  Every.  Time.

For fun, I added four more, making it a half-dozen for $4.49... a dozen was $7.99, but that was too many.  No, silly, I didn't eat them all myself... I stopped by the office of a buddy of mine to say hello, as I was in the area, and dropped them off.   Well, truthbetold, I also had a conversation with another friend of mine about a possible job opening at said office, but that's all I will say about that...

So, to sum up, Bojangles is worth the trip if the trip means you really, really, really want fried chicken and Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits is nowhere to be found.  Dunkin' Donuts is worth the trip if you want donuts and a Krispy Kreme is nowhere to be found.  Between the two, though, its a toss-up. 

But let's be real.  Starbucks has better coffee. 

If only we had Cheerwine.  If only.


  1. D$:
    I've gotta call you out on this one. I've only eaten at Bojangles in NC (long story), but my experience was far superior to yours (no Jamerica or the braided one). I'm also not a fan (at all) of Popeye's and believe it or not, there is a Popeye's less than a mile from my office here in the great PNW.

    Funny sidebar: I went to Bottega (Michael Chiarello's restaurant in Napa Valley, CA) and in their little store/cafe, they had bottles (yes, real glass bottles) of Cheerwine. I took a picture to send to you, but I think it was on my phone and I never uploaded it. You're the only person I know who likes Cheerwine, so...

    I also like your idea of selling bottled Coke products in Starbucks.

  2. Okay, of all that you wrote, I know I am crazy for mentioning this, but I really love me some Coke, and when I went into Dunkin Donuts, they did not have a single Coke product - only Pepsi. Have they already had to change their cooler in a week's time to make it more Southerner soda (ie. coke for us southerners) friendly?

  3. D$ this is a first for comment on your blog...but I have to. I cannot remain silent.

    I'm a FL know. And Krispy Krap are the worst donuts I've ever had. They are slime in my mouth and sludge in my arteries. (At least that's how I feel if I eat one)...

    I've always been a "cake donut" type of a girl, you see.

    So here is my question...given your above endearing sentiments to the bavarian cream filled donut, HOW OH HOW could you call it a TOSS UP between KK and Dunkin'????? HOW?

    I've been waiting for real donuts to debut in AL for some time now. I'm just pure excited. Oh how I miss a real powdered donut.

    Starbucks will always have the best coffee.

  4. I love Cheerwine! Used to be in the grocery stores for awhile, but can't find it anymore. Boo. I'd go eat somewhere just for the Cheerwine too. And I have to agree with the cake donuts at Dunkin being superior AND I enjoy both Starbucks and Dunkin coffee, and KK for that matter. They are all superior to any fast food joint. That's just regular drip coffee. I'd never get an espresso drink anywhere but Starbucks. =) But I'm too cheap to buy coffee drinks out anywhere and I get Starbucks giftcards on occasion so that's where I'll be!


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