It’s as good as they say it is

I’d been putting it off now for a while. In fact, for too long. There is a time to procrastinate, certainly, but there is also a time to un-crastinate. I figured I’d better crastinate on down the road and go get me a god-dang In’N’Out burger.

Oh, I had heard the stories, fast becoming legend in this neck of the sagebrush pygmy forest. Stories of people waiting in line for two, three, even six hours to get their first taste of In’N’Out sin. People running out of gas while idling in the drive-thru, waiting overnight in motorhomes, and riding in on mopeds from Winnemucca, all for the chance to sample a good, cheap cheeseburger. Many things have changed in 21st century America. Fanatical burger love, though, holds on with effortless ease.

I turned right off South Virginia on to Patriot Lane and mentally girded my cranial loins for the madness. It was 11:36 on a Friday morning, and I could see there was already a healthy queue of cars stacked for drive-thru action. Immediately, I encountered an In’N’Out employee who seemed to know what he was doing. “Take a right into the parking lot, then loop back to the left to get in line.” Interesting to see that the line of cars was long enough to require expert guidance. I followed instructions and assumed the position.

Meanwhile, the walk-in option wasn’t much of an alternative for those in a hurry. Hungry carnivores were already spilling out that door and into the day. Back in drive-thru, I reached the second member of the crack In’N’Out drill team, who asked for my order. I stuck with the basics: burger, fries, lemonade. I remembered the instructions of an In’N’Out fanatic, who advised me to go with the “4 by 4,” classic INO insider lingo referring to a burger with four patties and four slices of cheese. Maybe some midnight after my next beer and bong poker party, I would dare to go with the 4 X 4. Perhaps the 5 X 5! But not today. I did forget, though, to order “animal style,” which means you want grilled onions on that burg. Damn. (Don’t look for these options on the menu. They aren’t there. It’s all part of the In’N’Out mystique, y’understand).

The third member of the INO drill team was the money man. He took my five, and hustled back with the change. These guys were good. But then, they had to be. It was, after all, the Friday lunch shift, and at In’N’Out Burger, that’s no place to stick a bumbling rookie who could choke and melt down at the worst possible moment. At 11:48, the box o’chow was in my hairy hands. Total time, from pull-in to pull-out: 12 minutes. Impressive.

And you know what? The burger was good. Very good. The fries were decent, but nothing to inspire a rock opera. But the burger was cool. If only I had gone with the grilled onions!