Taco Time Switcheroo
Yesterday I made $150 sitting in Geneva’s, a fancy Seattle restaurant, nibbling a salad and sipping dealcoholized wine.
Here’s the scenario, our hero has invited two business colleagues to try the cuisine in a quaint upscale French restaurant. The chef’s special arrives. It’s burritos. They are surprised, but they don’t want to offend their valuable client. They consider their silverware, but then opt for grabbing the burrito with their hands. They love their burritos.
A lady at another table asks what they’re having.
“Gourmet burrito,” says the businessman with his mouth full.
The waiter arrives to ask if they’re enjoying their gourmet burritos and then says, “It’s from Taco Time.”
They have been Punked. Our hero points out the hidden camera and the other patrons start applauding.
Here’s the video of the Taco Time commercial!
*** Where’s Jusby? He’s sitting two tables back, by the window. He’s dressed like Justin going for a job interview: grey suit, red tie, hair sprayed down. He’s swishing his glass of red Fre (dealcoholized wine) but not so much that the director yells at him again [“Too much business with the wine in the back”]. He’s munching pear salad and bread. He’s chatting with the young woman in the strapless pink polka-dotted dress. She’s having cucumber and leek soup. She’d really prefer an espresso.***
Let’s pull back the chain of events that led me to this, my first commercial.
It’s the mid 70’s… Taco Time offers an all-you-can-eat day… it’s one of my favorite family outings, but we only go about three times. I gain ten pounds eating crispy beef burritos.
I don’t wind up eating fast food very often, but eventually I have my personal favorites, and Taco Time falls off the list as its more ubiquitous cousin Taco Bell takes over the country. In fact, decades go by without eating at Taco Time. They work hard to add some healthier choices on their menu, and they increase their prices to make up for the volume.
Then a week ago we resume the links of the chain. The family is returning from Sol Duc Hot Springs on Sunday night, and we stop at a Taco Time. The manager is raising his voice at his employees and criticizing them. They’re not happy. They’re barely holding it together. It’s been a long weekend, but it’s almost over.
There’s a lady who looks like a meth whore using their yellow pages. She hands it back to a young man behind the counter and tells him, “They had one room left. We gotta check in right now.” She hugs him. He says he’ll call her when he gets off. She says to “Use his number. Mine’s not charged.”
Awww. It’s meth mom & pimp boyfriend in town for Johnny’s High School graduation.
In spite of the menu (‘healthier’ choices, higher prices), it’s exactly like every other franchised fast food restaurant. I order $8 worth of food even though I’m not that hungry. This does not include a drink. I’m not into pop. The blonde gal at the register is probably grateful that I take so long to order so she won’t have to endure any more browbeating from the manager. He had wanted to know why she waited until the last minute until letting him know that she was out of ones. I want to give her my card, but I have to be more judicious about my approach. The card should be there for reinforcement AFTER I have made a connection. It’s a learning curve for me. I don’t have great expectations that she’ll actually become a client. But ya gotta make connections and it’s got my e-mail (jusbytheclown at yahoo.com) and myspace URL.
I decide to set it by the trays when we leave. Orion has a poopy, so Trish goes back inside while I warm up the car and switch the CD to Mirah’s “C’Mon, Miracle!”
They come back out. Trish says, “I took off his dirty diaper. He went pee on the toilet, and right after I put on his new diaper he pooped in it. Now I need a new one. Pop the trunk.” So he stands there while she’s unpacking the whole trunk to get a diaper from the furthest, deepest suitcase. They go back and the door is locked. She bangs on it for them to open up. I look at the clock. It just turned 9pm, so it’ll be drive-thru only as soon as the rest of the customers leave.
I tell her, “If they don’t open up, change him right here on the grass by the drive-thru like we did at Taco Bell.”
She pounds and explains that she just needs to get into the bathroom again. They let her in.
The blonde gal comes out. Her ride is here. Dad or grampa in a caddy. She crosses her arms and lays her head on the dashboard. As they pull away I yell, “It’ll get better!”
In retrospect I wish I had said something less trite and pablum. I’ll have to come up with something that is:
[O.K. here’s something from http://www.tacotime.com “An Even Richer Destination Ahead!” Try yelling that at dejected cashiers as they peel out of the parking lot.]
Now we fast-forward to the following Saturday. Rachel from http://www.reelextras.net e-mailed me an offer to be an extra in a Taco Time commercial, but the offer was sent on Friday, so I reply back with my phone number HUNGRY for work.
We head out to a summer solstice party, and I miss the call, so the job has gone to someone else. I do pass out my card to a few potential clients – including a guy who goes by “Whiz” and has a daughter turning 4 in August. I’m wearing the clown hat, vest, and pants, so I do some fan tricks and wind up dancing an eyeball balloon routine while the “band” plays “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel.
The following afternoon Rachel calls again and says that someone has bailed on her, and if I’m still interested head up to Seattle as soon as I can.
She asks if I have a tuxedo. I say that I’ve turned it into a clown tuxedo.
“Well, that’s okay. Just a dark suit then.”
It’s after 1 PM. The call was originally for 2:30. Rush, rush, rush. Trish tries to get me a quick haircut appointment. I opt for freezing hair spray. I HAD been trying to schedule a haircut every 6 weeks. I have a history of getting a job right after a haircut, and it’s been over 9 weeks. I’m at the point of getting a punk rock clown haircut instead of the standard business cut, but a two-tone fade would not have been suitable for Geneva’s.
On the way I listen to the mix CD I made for Trish on our 3rd anniversary (last week). There’s a track toward the very end I got by recording on my mp3 player the call I made to Radio 8-Ball (http://myspace.com/radio8ball & http://radio8ball.com ). “I Wanna Take You Too Far” is a rocking track by the Every Others. It was the answer to my question about the upcoming year of marriage. Andras interpreted it as an affirmation to push the limits of my abilities and of our connection.
This track comes on just as I round the bend and see the Seattle skyline. My spirit swells up like an eyeball balloon. I’m on the verge of stardom.
I get there and have to sit around. Of course. Hurry up and wait. Didn’t bring a book. Didn’t bring an mp3 player. The extras are sitting around the trailer and enjoying craft services. One of our businessmen is filling up on pasta salad. Later he will have to eat major portions of half a dozen burritos. Later the PA will tell us that the crew will be getting a second meal, but there’s not enough for the background extras.
He will not believe me when I hint that I am interested in the half eaten burritos. It’s feast or famine in this business. Why would he think I was joking? I hadn’t given him my card, and I wasn’t wearing a red nose.
I think this project is just about a wrap. Hmmm. A burrito is also a wrap. Nice double entendre, Jusby.
I’ve already showed my VHS copy to all the folks around these parts who’d watch. My ex-step-dad’s new mother-in-law used to be in show business. She didn’t think this would help my career much! But it has already helped with my self-confidence. I know now that I can pass for a businessman if I wear a suit and don’t talk.