The Target John selected for the evening's jaunt is probably the largest in town. That's his theory, anyway. It's one of two "big box" stores erected at El Con Mall in the last several years. It's a bizarre mall. It used to be a reasonably large, fairly standard shopping mall, converted decades ago from an early 1960s shopping center in midtown Tucson. It even had a few locally-owned businesses, such as a barber shop and a shoe repair service. Over the last five or ten years, that's all changed. Stores closed, and entire sections of the mall were closed off and in some cases demolished. The interior of the mall, such as it is, now atands virtually empty. At the same time, though, new buildings have been constructed surrounding the mall proper: the aforementioned Target, a Home Depot, a multiplex theater, a Claim Jumper restaurant, a Krispy Kreme (which was wildly popular when it first opened, but is now dead and closed), a Starbucks and, most recently, Tucson's first In-N-Out burger joint. When it opened about a month ago, it made the local news. A counter clerk at the In-N-Out in Chandler, where I went after the Scalzi appearance, said that the lines in Tucson were said to be four hours long.
Tonight was the first time John and I have been by El Con together since the In-N-Out location opened. We were both a little curious about the status of the fad. John Scalzi's fondness for the chain notwithstanding, the concept of waiting four hours to eat a hamburger is completely alien to John Blocher, and more than a little insane. "I don't even like to wait five minutes," he said. It's not much of an exaggeration; there are many restaurants I can never go with John, because he finds it very stressful and annoying and so-no-worth-it to wait for a table more than a couple of minutes.
Still, I was interested to know whether the lines were still insanely long, about a month after the place opened. Sure enough, as we drove by I saw lots of people inside, and a line of cars wrapped around at least two sides of the building, waiting for the drive-through.
John pulled out onto Broadway, headed for home; but I talked him into going back so I could take pictures. Here's the beginning of the "DRIVE THRU" lane, halfway across the mall parking lot, marked off by traffic cones.
When the cars are still hundreds of feet away from the In-N-Out Burger itself, a few of the location's many employees are there to take orders. At least, that's what I assume they were doing.
John suggested that I take the rest of the shots without flash, but the fact is, I messed up all the pictures. There were two problems:
- John was feeling pressured by constant traffic behind him (John was not in the drive through lane, and this was after 10 PM!), and therefore didn't stop while I took each shot.
- I forgot to verify that the dial on top of the camera was on the right setting. It wasn't.
Aside from the Red Cross blood bank, spending time with John and a lot of watching of Doctor Who, I've put in a little time today on both the reading and writing of fiction. I'm well into John Scalzi's The Last Colony now, and enjoying it a lot.
AOL's congenial "Journals Editor Joe", Joe Loong, turned up unexpectedly in the book this evening, at least by proxy. His namesake is introduced on page 131, and promptly goes missing. His body is found on page 133. Yow!