Charles Schlotter - Truck Stop

It was memorable, all right. Not good, mind you, but unforgettable in the grisly way that a hanging or a John Tesh concert is unforgettable. I and a small group of Army recruits were halfway to Indiantown Gap Military Reservation. (IGMR, pronounced IG-marr, was near... uh, well it wasn't near much of anything. The closest big city was Ono, Pennsylvania, so that will give you some idea.)

We had been driving for a couple of hours, breathing in the carbon-based fumes that seem especially strong within Army transport vehicles, when the Sergeant in charge decided we needed a meal to tide us over until the Mess Hall could get a hold of us.  So we stopped at a truck stop.

I don't know whether truck stops in general are notable for bad food but I should have taken due warning from the fact that there were no actual trucks in the parking lot. Another significant fact: There were no buzzards circling overhead.  They were too proud.

We cadets, however, were already stripped of any lingering sense of self-worth. In the generous fifteen minutes allotted for the operation we were expected to bolt down whatever we could scavenge, taking no prisoners. God knows we tried but the cuisine defeated us without a shot fired.

Imagine a luke-cold hamburger patty apparently composed of minced cardboard box, fragments of peanut shells and fingernail shavings. Imagine serving it between a bun that turned to dust when touched. Imagine washing it down with what must have been orange Kool-Aid sometime in the prior spring and watered down every day since. Imagine potato chips which.... Well, I assume they were supposed to be potato chips, my assumption being based more upon process of elimination than their appearance.  They might just as easily have been poker chips.  The serving staff evidently had some cordon bleu training, not in food preparation but in the traditional French art of snotty waitering. Did I mention that this sumptuous bill of fare cost approximately three times as much as lunch at a McDonalds?  I can honestly say that this is the only meal I have ever eaten that tasted almost as good going down as it did coming back up. After that, the plain Army grub seemed positively delicious.

Charles J. Schlotter -

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