You know how your mom always told you not to trust strangers? Yeah, I never listened either.
When we were kids, she always told us to never take candy from strangers.
But what about a full meal? I don’t recall any words of wisdom on that subject. Though I guess there weren’t many pedophiles rolling around in vans offering three-course meals, so she hadn’t thought it necessary to mention it. Or she thought her never take candy prohibition probably covered multiple scenarios regarding strangers with free food and thought we’d use our common sense.
Perks of the road
Last night while Ubering, I picked up a waiter from a Mexican restaurant, and he had a bag of food with him. He was a friendly guy and, apparently, he’d been called in on his day off to cover because it was Spring Break and multiple millennials (his phrasing) on staff had called in “sick.” In his book, hangovers don’t count as sick, but he went in to help out the manager. Forty-five years old, he was a retired chef who worked tables part time to get out of the house. He spent a lot of the ride talking about the deficiencies of his younger coworkers particularly their inability to work through a hangover and mocking them for thinking their jobs where stressful. “Try being a chef or running a restaurant. That’s stress.”
He asked if we could make two stops along the way — at the bank to get money, and the gas station to get beer, so I said sure. When I went to drop him off, he offered me the food he had. He’d been working some expo they’d been hosting at the restaurant and he’d been eating all day. The manager had prepped a plate of food for the waiter as a thank you for bailing him out, but he wasn’t hungry and didn’t want it to go to waste. He’d already handed me a cash tip, so this was an unexpected bonus. Contrary to my naturally cautious nature, I said sure.
Now, I thought for a second that I shouldn’t be taking food from a stranger, but he’d just come from working at a restaurant, so what were the odds that he was some master poisoner, out looking for an unsuspecting victim? But what better way to get past a person’s caution and what a great cover for a crime? Of course, even if he wasn’t a poisoner, I did wonder how long the food had been sitting around. Mother Nature’s little army of bacteria wouldn’t think twice about poisoning me. But the food was still hot, so it would probably be okay. Right?
Caution to the wind
Turning off the app, I went to a gas station to buy a Coke Zero. The guy had mentioned he’d given me some sort of innovative enchilada with red sauce and rice and refried beans. By innovative, I guess he meant flat and built with several layers of tortillas. That should have been the first warning sign — don’t mess with a design that works. Who needs a flat enchilada? What would make a flat enchilada superior to a traditional enchilada? And it had ground beef in it. I’m not a fan of ground beef in my Mexican food — I much prefer shredded beef.
It was a lot of food with a million calories I didn’t really need. Plus, what if the guy actually was trying to poison me and I was about to walk into his trap?
I ate it anyway. Then I drove another hour and a half and went home. After messing around on the computer, I was going to write but suddenly, I wasn’t feeling great. Not sick. But a dull pressure in my abdomen that went up to my back that was causing discomfort. And it got worse over time. Indigestion? I did wolf it down, but that was hours ago and I never get indigestion. I took some Tums and drank water then tried to sleep. Nothing doing. I got more and more uncomfortable. I tried lying on the floor, propping my legs up. Nothing helped.
What was going on? Was it indigestion? But what was up with the backache between my shoulder blades? Was I having a heart attack? Maybe a blood clot had stealthed its way to my lungs and was in the process of finishing me off? As I lay there miserable and praying for death I decided the guy had, in fact, poisoned me. Or maybe one of the millennials he would browbeat had finally reached the breaking point and had decided to poison or doctor his food in revenge. Was I the unwitting victim of a plot gone wrong?
Maybe, I thought, I should scribble out my last will and testament and leave some clues pointing to who might have done me in? But I was too miserable. They’d have to solve this mystery without my help.
When the Houseguest saw me all hunched over, her first instinct was to laugh because she thought I looked comical shuffling along. I admonished her for mocking someone who had been poisoned and she asked if I wanted to go up to the ER, but I opted to take my chances, and she quickly lost interest.
Finally, long after the sun rose, I fell asleep and didn’t wake until the afternoon, still alive and feeling quite a bit better. It kind of puts a bounce in your step when you realize that you haven’t been poisoned and have once again cheated death.
So did I learn anything? Yeah, maybe I should have listened to my mother. And I’m definitely not eating a flat enchilada from that place ever again.
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