I’ve become a McDonald’s coffee convert. You can get a small coffee with a shot of espresso for $1.63. That’s twenty-two cents cheaper than Sckubrats. McCoffee tastes better. It’s served hotter, much hotter. After twenty minutes it still tastes like coffee, unlike SB’s room-temp stuff.
McCoffee also gives you more coffee for twelve ounces than Scubrats because SB never fills it to the top. The “room for cream” shaves at least two ounces out of the cup. Mac just gives you a little creamy thingy, a .5 oz container with a peel-back top. You can ask for two, or even three, but no one asks for “seven creamers, please.”
The cream is where Mac shaves costs to compete with SB, and you notice it right away. At McCafe, they keep the creamers under lock and key. At Sckubrats, they have several different large thermoses where you can load up on all the cream and fat you want, along with sugar, cinnamon (Cinnamon? Who the fuck puts cinnamon in their coffee?), and other goodies.
The cream counter says everything about the clientele of the two stores. The Sckubrats patron believes he is “healthy,” because, you know, they have those leafy green things in the salad lunchboxes and because Sckubs is painted, well, green. So the patron healthifies his coffee with vast amounts of healthy half and half and healthy sugar. Watching Sckubrats consumers post-brew their already complicated concoctions is a lesson in how to make drinks that are already loaded with sugar even fattier.
The Mac visitor isn’t a patron. He’s a customer. And he orders coffee in order to get some caffeine and maybe some sugar with a dollop of cream. His main calorie search, though, ain’t no fucking froo-froo coffee drink. He’s there for the Big Mac and large fries with an Egg McMuffin and large coke. For breakfast.
McCoffee is served differently, too. The clerks have a vapid, mechanized look to match the machinery and push-button reheating facility that thaws and warms the prefabricated food. Their clothes never fit right. The women look like they’ve been dressed in sacks with belts. The guys, covered with horrible, oily acne from the grease in the air, look like a hamburger that’s got the lettuce and sauce dripping out from around the edges, soggifying the bun and making a mess on the tabletop. You would not want one of these guys to stick his finger in your mouth.
Since Big M’s philosophy is “make it idiot proof,” they hire idiots. Everything is so simple and stupid, though, that the brain rebels by making mistakes.
“That’ll be $1.63,” the zombie said.
“Here you go.” I handed him two bucks.
“Here’s your change.” He gave me forty-five cents back. At first I thought he was joking. “Do you want your receipt?” he asked, seeing my puzzled look.
“Okay. Your expresso will be right up.”
Yes, my expresso. This is a word that means “fast coffee,” I guess.
Which is the other shortcoming at McCafe. Everyone is afraid of the specialty coffee machine, and there’s only one person, usually named Lupe, who can operate it. “Lupe! We need an expresso!”
Lupe comes from the back of the factory, hands dripping with thawed secret sauce, and wipes her acned brow with the back of her hand. There’s a long conversation between Lupe and Bill.
“You just push the button, here.”
“I tried that but out came all this white stuff.”
“That’s the latte maker thing. We don’t never use that much.”
“Dude just wants an expresso.”
“That’s this button.”
Eventually, I get my coffee with a shot of espresso. “Cream?” Bill asks, suspiciously, kind of like someone would say, “You want my sister, do you?”
I know this is the one thing he remembers from the employee training last month where he had to come in on his day off with a bad hangover. Manager Snippers had told everyone, “Don’t give away the creamers! Make the customer tell you how many he wants! Don’t give him a handful! This is our profit margin! Don’t give away the creamers!”
“Yeah, please,” I say.
His eyes narrow. “Okay.” It’s like a challenge. “How many?”
His eyes widen. “Huh? We can’t give you twelve.”
“Okay, just kidding. Give me twenty.”
Lupe takes over. “How many creams you want, sir? How about one? Or two? Or just one?”
I smile. “One is fine.”
She opens the fridge, which looks like a small safe. “Here, sir.”
“Thanks.” I turn and go. It’s taken eight minutes, and I was the only person who wanted coffee. But I saved thirty cents, including the change snafu, and the coffee was hot and tasted great.
I lit out from Chino, I was trailed by twenty hounds
Today’s race was in Chino. Since it’s the middle of the cyclocross season, a sport that celebrates biking in the winter, I had prepared for the 97-degree, dusty, scorching temperatures with arm warmers and lots of embro.
One thing about ‘cross is that when you get to the race you always ask the dude in the car next to you, “What tire pressure are you running?”
“About thirty,” he always says. Then you reach over and squeeze his tire.
“Yeah,” you say. “I think I’ll go around twenty-seven.” This is to show that you’re gonna have an edge out there on the course, especially the softer sections, where he’ll be braking and skidding and you’ll be comfortably rolling through the sandy turns, ’cause you’re running twenty-seven.
Then he always says, “Yeah, but are those clinchers? You’ll get a pinch flat.”
I’ve never gotten a pinch flat, or any flat, because ‘cross tires are built like the tread on a half-track. “Nah,” you say. “I’m light enough so’s I never get those.” Unspoken: He gets pinch flats and has to run higher psi because he’s so fucking fat.
The next thing that happens at every ‘cross race is that you and the dude in the car next door agree how much the course sucks. Costa Mesa really sucked because it was a BMX course and too technical.
Downtown LA sucked because it wasn’t technical, it was just a “roadie” course. You know, like all those road rides you do with flyovers, barriers, run-ups, soft sand, and choking dust.
Camarillo sucked because it was all grass with some mud. It wasn’t technical enough.
Spooky Cross sucked because it was another BMX course on a horsetrack and with all the whoopti’s it was too technical.
San Diego Velodrome course sucked because it was too short, too technical, it went the wrong way around the velodrome, and it was boring.
“How’s the course?” I asked the guy in the car next to me at Chino.
“Aw, it sucks.”
“Boring roadie course. And bumpy. It’s a really stupid course.”
Hint: It’s not the courses in ‘cross that are stupid
We got let out of the gate, but not before, while rolling up to the start, I tipped over and knocked over a couple of other people. This really makes people like you and gets you covered in dirt and mud right away.
The preliminary intel on the course was right. The course did suck. [Note to self: that’s because it’s ‘cross, and ‘cross sucks.] It was bone-jarringly bumpy, and so dusty that within seconds I was choking from the thick curtain of sand and dirt thrown up by the riders in front of me, which was all of them.
On the first sharp turn a local buddy chopped me, passed me, and elbowed me. “Sorry, Wankster,” he said, kind of like the neighbor who says “Sorry, Pascale” to his neighbor in the Resistance as he ratfinks him to the Gestapo.
Unlike the week before, when I’d been immediately crushed and defeated by the short, technical, choppy course, it took a few hundred yards before I overcooked my first turn uphill and fell off my bike. The field receded. I remounted and churned.
After a while I’d picked off several riders ahead of me. After a lap I’d passed and dropped my friendly neighbor. After the third lap I was so addled with dirt and heat and thirst and the screaming anaerobic misery that is a ‘cross race that I no longer gave a damn. But unlike last week, I didn’t give up, either.
I overhauled Rider Red Dude, who followed my wheel until he wisely decided that of all the precarious and uncertain places he could be in life, riding my wheel was the height of precariousness, so he faded away. Coming up the little off-camber sandy bump, I fell off my bicycle again. In his excitement at having a legit chance to pass me, Rider Red Dude tried to zing by, but in his haste lost control and went careening off into the tape and speared himself with a course marker pole.
I don’t know if it went through his heart, but I saw people pouring beer on him to stanch the bleeding.
My final partner was a dude from another race named Luis. Each time we came through the area where his supporters were, they screamed, “Ditch that guy, Luis! He sucks!” Luis knew what his drunken buddies didn’t, that I was in a different race, and he was more than happy to have someone who would take turns. On the final lap I busted away from him, too.
I crossed the finish line thinking those thoughts that accompany every ‘cross race ending: “Where am I?” “Can I fall over here?” “Who has the water?”
A lovely angel of mercy gave me some cold water to cut the dirt and muck off my teeth. A full bottle later and I could finally feel something inside my throat that didn’t feel like gravel and dirt and sand mixed with dried phlegm.
My teammates, David Anderson and John Hatchitt, had placed second and third. In the final tabulation, I’d placed seventh, my best result of the year by far. But I didn’t care. All I wanted was a hot cup of McCoffee. And I knew where to get one.
…And…today by the numbers…
.25 cup oatmeal 150 cal
.25 cup raisins 130 cal
1 tsp brown sugar 11 cal
Coffee w/2 tbsp 2% milk 16 cal
.5 cup Greek yogurt 65 cal
3 strawberries 15 cal
1 small Fuji apple 60 cal
.25 cup nonfat milk 22
Coffee w/.5 oz half and half 20 cal
.5 cup trail mix 300 cal
Morning total: 789 cal
2 cans tuna 240 cal
2 corn tortillas 120 cal
2 large eggs 180 cal
4 tbsp salsa 60 cal
.5 cup Greek yogurt 65 cal
Banana 90 cal
Small Fuji apple 60 cal
Coffee w/.25 cup nonfat milk 22 cal
Afternoon total: 837 cal
200g spaghetti 315 cal
2.5 tbsp olive oil 210 cal
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese 55 cal
1.3 eggs 117 cal
2 tbsp dressing 255 cal
2/3 large avocado 221 cal
1 pkg dried tomatoes 210 cal
2/3 small tomato 17 cal
.25 cup nonfat Greek yogurt 33 cal
4 med strawberries 20 cal
.25 large banana 27 cal
.25 cup blackberries 16 cal
Evening total: 1,496 cal
BMR: 1,800 cal
Ride: 1,397 cal
Gym: 477 cal
Calories out: 3,674
Calories in: 3,122
Weight: 153 lbs.