Friday, January 18, 2008

O Rodeo, Rodeo, Wherefore art thou Rodeo?

In the spirit of LAP's tribute to the golden arches, I would like to pause and share some thoughts on another fine establishment. Around 1999-2000, I developed a Burger King habit. By habit, I don't mean that I began going to Burger King once a week. I mean that I began going through the Burger King drive-thru every morning on my way to work. Every single morning. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, I ordered a plain biscuit and a large Diet Coke. On Wednesdays (hump day) and Fridays (as a TGIF treat), I ordered cini-minis and a large Diet Coke. I would not allow myself to begin eating these breakfast treats until I arrived at school (a good twenty-five minutes before I needed to be there). I would then turn on only one set of my classroom lights and sit in the semi-darkness at my desk. I would check email (I had no at-home internet access back then) and enjoy my breakfast. Looking back, I can see that this was a sad little ritual. At the time though, it was so important to me. Some mornings, it was only the promise of Burger King that got me out of bed, as in: "If you get up now and skip the shower, MEP, you can still get to Burger King."

One bonus of my Burger King habit was the friendship I forged with Jackie, the early morning assistant manager who ran the drive-thru window. Jackie had to get to Burger King at something like 4:45 every morning. She, her husband (a truck driver who was never home), and her daughter were living with his parents while they saved up for a house. We ended up exchanging Christmas and birthday gifts. We did not have too much time to talk each morning, but I always appreciated her positive attitude so early in the morning. My first year in Chicago, Jackie ended up taking a job as a teacher's aide at the high school where I worked. Who knows how our friendship might have blossomed had I stayed there another year.

I am fortunate enough to live within walking distance of a Burger King now, though I haven't befriended any of its employees . . . perhaps because I thankfully no longer need Burger King on a daily basis. In fact, I'd wager I had cini-minis less than 5 times in all of 2007 and not once so far in 2008. I do have a new Burger King obsession though (probably a once, maybe twice, a week thing): The Rodeo Cheeseburger.
Most people are unfamiliar with the Rodeo and so I actually consider this post a public service. The Rodeo Cheeseburger is about the same size as a regular cheeseburger, but it is topped with cheese, barbecue sauce, and--drumroll please--three perfect Burger King onion rings. It's got flavor and crunch (thanks to the onion ring) in a compact and inexpensive--it's a value menu item--package. Tastes so good when it hits your lips. From time to time it disappears from the BK menu, and those times are tough. But it's there now, and I want it that way. NTB.


Actchy said...

Your friendship with Jackie is one of my favorite, fabulous heartwarming MEP stories. BK should consider using it for their advertising and give the creepy, one-expressioned football-playing King.

Actchy said...

Sorry, I didn't finish my sentence above:
"give the creepy, one-expressioned football-playing King the heave-ho."

E... said...

Most days, I had to sprint past your darkened classroom to either make copies or figure out a lesson plan, but it always made me happy that someone got a breakfast, so I don't think your BK ritual was all that sad. Among the ways I got myself out of bed when you and I shared a difficult work life were the possibilities of a coffee and buttered roll run at the Atlanta Bread Company, a UDF Cheetos/Donut dash, or the shortlived bagel club. Or maybe the possibility of a fresh cookie from the cafeteria or the chance to watching Gary and Marty eat Drumsticks back when we actually went to the lunchroom. Why is it when I think back to those days, all of my memories revolve around hunting down food? Maybe because most days I was relegated to a couple of slices of salami and a cracker or two thrown into a Kroger bag with a stale Little Debbie. Lunchtime hasn't improved much for me, sadly, so I understand your previously mentioned business lunch inquistions.

Anonymous said...

Where are the Rodeo Cheeseburgers still available at? I loved these in the late 90s, but most of the BKs around here give me a weird look when I mention them now.

MEP said...

Dear Anonymous,

Not sure where you live, but I can verify the existence of Rodeos at the two Chicago Burger King locations that I frequent: Fullerton/Southport, and Irving Park/Clark.

Good luck!

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