Tuesday, August 14, 2007

California Tortilla Journal

As I wrote this morning, I left home around 5:40 am in an attempt to be one of the first 10 people in line at California Tortilla’s grand opening. Here are my notes from the adventure:

5:45 am – What the heck is wrong with me? I am up way too early just so I can stand in line at California Tortilla in Reston. My wife thinks I’m crazy, and maybe I am…crazy like a fox! The first ten people in line receive a free burrito every week for a year. I arrive outside the store and am the eighth person in line! I brought my comfortable folding chair, my walkman (yes, a walkman), which although I have not used in years still had working batteries much to my surprise, Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine and the book “Can I Keep My Jersey? 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond” by Paul Shirley.

The seven people in front of me are all teenage boys. (I wrote this at 5:50 am; I will amend this statement later.) There were chairs, a cooler and someone brought a tent. One of the seven is completely covered by a blanket on a hard steel bench. They camped out all night waiting for the grand opening. Apparently, they were not alone for the first part of the evening. About 30 people waited for the midnight release of Madden 08 at EB Games located next door.

6:30 – #9 arrives. I could have slept an extra 40 minutes.

6:45 – Four kids ride in on their bikes. They can’t be older than 12. According to California Tortilla’s official rules, you must be at least 18 years of age or older to win the burritos for a year.

6:50 – Four more people arrive, all much older than 18. Between the kids and the new folks, we now have more than 10. This could get interesting. I wonder if a fight outside of California Tortilla for free burritos would trump a fight at a chess tournament. I should also mention that the people numbered 11-30 in line receive a free burrito every week for a month, so there is a consolation prize.

7:10 – I’m not even sure that I want burritos for a year. I could get sick of them by week #2. If that’s the case, look for free burrito coupons on eBay.

7:30 – The card game Quems (sic) has just broken out among some of the teens. I didn’t know that this game existed anymore. I used to play Quems at EKC over 15 years ago.

7:55 – Six California Tortilla employees appear. Two of the four kids ask them if you really need to be 18 to win. They are told yes (again).

8:10 – There are now about 20-25 people in line. Cartoon Cuts and Parcel Plus are not going to be happy with all of the loiterers outside of their businesses.

8:30 – A woman asks me to sign a petition to allow for a referendum on Reston town status. I agree every though she’s a little annoying. Meanwhile, the dispute for the #10 spot continues. There is also a little controversy for spots #5-7. It turns out that these guys are only 15 (and are not part of the first group of guys) and are holding the spots so that their parents can claim the prize for them.

8:50 – I use the California Tortilla restroom. There are no prizes for being one of the first ten customers to use the bathroom.

9:05 – The guy on the bench woke up. He’s also not a teenager. The guy is probably in his late 40s and looks a little disheveled, which is completely understandable since he slept on a metal bench for at least 4 hours.

9:15 – The petition lady is getting on my nerves. I am tempted to ask her to remove my name from the petition, but I really don’t want to talk to her again.

9:30 – The property managers tell everyone that the chairs must go. While I would like to blame Cartoon Cuts for this demand, I think this is coming straight from the man/men.

10:00 – The Junkies radio show on 106.7 is done for the day. I definitely would not have made it the past four hours without listening to them. I’m so excited that my walkman still works too!

(Nothing really happened over the next 50 minutes. I stood and read my book and California Tortilla founders arrived to say hello.)

10:50-10:59 – Every minute on the minute, the kids yell how much time remains until the doors open. The sad part about this is I was probably just as annoying with my friends at that age as I was recently reminded of by Messiah in the Steely McBeam comments section.

11:02 – The first ten people, which includes me, are called inside and handed a stack of 52 coupons. I am really impressed that someone handwrote the dates on each coupon. I then reach the register and order a Blackened Chicken Caesar burrito and lemonade to go.

In case you were wondering, I took a half-day off from work but worked the entire afternoon. The parent for 15-year-old swap turned out fine. They were all very nice. I don’t know what ended up happening to #10. One of the four kids had that number, but I’m not sure whether or not they actually received the coupons. When I left the restaurant at about 11:10, there were about 75 people in line for a free burrito. I predict great success for California Tortilla in Reston and that I will not wake up at 5:20 for free food again.


Rinsem's Rink said...

That must be some burro! I can't imagine any food product that would get me out of bed at 5:20 in the morning.

Beakerz said...

I think you're awesome for doing this! Thanks for posting your goings-on as I would totally do that, except I'm meeting with Pam, one of the founders you met, tomorrow afternoon.

Anyway, I bet they doing Very well in Reston. They seem to florish wherever they are!

I love them and had a Chicken Ceaser myself and no, I skipped the 520am check-in ;)