Friday, November 23, 2007

Tale of the Fleeting Taco

This past Tuesday I was taking my regular mental health walk around the periphery of the Austin State Hospital campus when I spied a discarded beverage cup game piece from Taco Bell near the corner of 45th and Lamar. The game piece read, "Free Crunchy Beef Taco."

I was moving at a decent clip, so I kept walking another two or three feet before my brain clicked to the fact that I'd walked right past a free taco. At that point I came to a dead halt, turned around and returned to pick up the game piece. I quickly scanned the small print until I came to the words, "expires 11/13/2007." What had been a free crunchy beef taco one week ago was now useless garbage.

I don't have a word that approximates the noise that accompanied this realization, but I think it sounded a bit like Charlie Brown's "Aaarraugh!"

Whatever the noise was, it attracted the attention of a woman idling in the left turn lane with her window rolled down. We made eye contact and it was clear she took me for less than sane. I thought about showing her my ID badge to prove I was merely a cheap state worker and not a furloughed mental patient, but she'd already driven away.

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