After a late-night arrival in Tucson, I got up the next morning to an empty 'fridge.
Hankering for a Reuben sandwich, I walked to the neighborhood market two blocks away.
Although the creaky wood floor gives it the ambience of an old general store, the market sells wine, organic groceries, vegetarian pizza and high-priced coffee. It is staffed by college-aged hipsters who say "dude" a lot.
In the back is a deli which serves good sandwiches. The chick who took my order was very thorough.
Do you want your Reuben hot or cold? Hot.
Which kind of mustard? She listed seven possibilities. I picked one at random.
What kind of bread? Sourdough rye sounded the best.
Slice of pickle? Skip it.
She entered all of this into her computer, pushed the button and then sent me up front to pay. As I left, she said something funny and let out an unearthly laugh that sounded like a turkey gobble. Her gobble sounded so funny that I laughed, too.
After paying, I walked back to the deli. There was the gobbler chick, arms folded, leaning against the back shelf. Also there were two dudes with funky knit caps and little scraggly beards and little braids hanging which you couldn't tell if they were part of the cap or part of their hair.
The dudes, I assumed, were the dishwashers. The chick gobbled. The dudes said "dude." And nobody did a thing.
I stared at the three in disbelief and hoped that somebody in a kitchen out back was making my sandwich.
Five minutes later, no sandwich. There was no kitchen out back. The cooks were the dudes in front of me. And they weren't moving.
On the counter sat a tray of Gouda cheese samples. I started eating sample after sample, hoping that would wake them up. No luck.
After about 10 minutes, a look of concern spread across the turkey gobbler's face. I had been standing in front of her eating Gouda for 10 minutes. A light went on in her head. This might be a customer who had ordered something some time back!
The gobbling stopped. The chick looked at her computer in panic. Then she looked at the printout machine. No printout for the cooks!
"This is bad!" she said, and opened up the machine. It was out of paper.
"I am so sorry!" she said, holding up the empty spool of paper. "The printer ran out of paper!"
Without a printout, the dudes who were supposed to make my Reuben didn't know my order existed. No, they only cook when the printer spits out an order. And it was out of paper!
The two dudes and the gobbler chick gathered around the printer utterly flummoxed. Their confused stupor suggested to me that they had been smoking something other than Marlboros.
Lots of "dudes" were uttered.
The thought that somebody could assemble my Reuben sandwich without first putting a roll of paper in the printer never occurred to any of them. No printout, no Reuben.
Finally, the two dudes took over the printer struggle while the chick who took my order, who hadn't gobbled for a good five minutes now, started to make the sandwich without a printout.
Unprinted orders weren't her forte. She wasn't even a cook! She had to ask me again what I ordered. She couldn't find the sauerkraut. She had to ask me what kind of mustard. She had to ask me what kind of bread.
Eventually, she plopped the completed Reuben in the microwave for three minutes. And when the microwave beeped, nobody moved.
After a tolerating few "dudes" and one loud gobble, I finally asked if I could have my sandwich.
The chick jumped. "Oh, I forgot!"
As she pulled the steaming mass out of the microwave and handed it to me, she gobbled and said, "Well, it was made with a lot of love!"
Whatever, dude. It's just great to be in Tucson.