But I was surprised when I read that Wienerschnitzel would begin selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs. It seemed to me the charm of such things is the spontaneity of buying them at street fairs or soccer games or places where you're really hungry and the smell of frying bacon entices you. The idea of going into a national chain and purchasing one did not seem as fun to me. But then again, what the hell do I know?
At any rate, I had to try one. So I headed to Wienerschnitzel, one of those locations with actual indoor seating instead of an A-frame stand. There were no advertisements for it on the outside, but I went inside and there was a poster on the menu board, advertising a plain bacon-wrapped dog or the "street dog," loaded with onions, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. In bold print it read "$1.79 each."
"I would like the bacon-wrapped street dog to go, please" I said to the girl behind the counter. I paid and stood around for five minutes before receiving a bag and walking out to my car. I unwrapped it to find this:
"I asked for the street dog, this is just bacon," I said.
"You ordered it plain," she replied.
"No, I did not."
"Yes, you did."
I did not point out that never once have I ordered a hot dog plain in my entire life, I simply repeated my order from before, verbatim. She swiped the dog off the counter with an annoyed grunt, as if making me the proper dog would be a labor akin to cleaning the Augean stables.
"I know you didn't order the street dog," she said again.
There are three ways you can go here, other than asking for your money back and/or leaving, and I have certainly done all three: get angry and argue, say something rude and condescending, smile and be polite. The first option feels good but gets you nowhere. The second feels better at first; later in the day you just feel like a dickhead. The third option is usually the best.
"Okay," I said, "Can I please have the street dog this time?"
"Okay," she said, "but it will be more."
This is when that advice about taking a deep breath before you speak is crucial.
"So," I said, "when it says they are $1.79 each, that is incorrect?"
"It doesn't say that," she replied.
Now I was starting to lose my patience. It's not like we're debating whether to start Gasol at the 5 and bring Bynum off the bench; she's making a claim that is demonstrably false.
I extended my finger towards the sign over her shoulder, the one clearly stating the hot dogs are $1.79 each. "It says it right there."
"Oh," she mumbled. "Well, we charge more for the street dog." (She then took a hand-held calculator and - I kid you not - subtracted $1.79 from $1.99 before telling me I owed an additional 20 cents.)
"Okay," I said, "that's fine."
I mean, what the hell else was I going to say at this point? She was clearly in control and I was not willing to challenge that control for twenty cents, an amount I learned earlier in the day - when I made my first phone call from a public phone in perhaps a decade - won't even pay for half of a local call.
(I should also point out the obvious risk inherent in being rude to people preparing your food behind closed doors, a risk that rises exponentially when the item costs
Another few minutes later I had my correct dog and unwrapped it in the car while listening to Charlie Sheen calling in to a sports talk radio show. The things you do for your blog, my friend's words echoed in my ear. This is what I got this time around:
And, predictably, at first bite I almost spit the thing out. The deluge of toppings - toppings that I had insisted on getting - were not a good flavor combination. I've had street dogs before, ones slathered with mayo, even ones with crushed potato chips, cabbage, mayo and ketchup... but none tasted this funky. It was a creamy, semi-solid mass that simultaneously tasted of familiar flavors while at the same time something I have never had before, something no person in a state of sanity or sobriety should ever ingest.
I did not finish the dog, though. It just wasn't worth it. I can respect what they're trying to do, to make a fast food hot dog like you might buy off the street... but something is definitely lost in the translation here.