In-N-Out Conversation

Last night Anna and I went to see The Darkest Hour in Alameda. We had skipped having dinner before the show and on our way home Anna said she needed a bite. We would be passing the In-N-Out near the end of the Webster Tube on our way home and it had been a really long time since either of us had indulged in an Animal Style burger.

“Want to stop at In-N-Out?”

The temptation was more than I could resist.

“Sure,” I said.

We pulled in, parked, ordered two burgers and an order of fries to share, then sat down to wait. It was very busy for 9:00 pm.

“It looks like Santa’s workshop the way they’re scurrying around back there,” said the guy sitting next to me. “I hear the daughter of the founders is a billionaire.”

I had an inkling that the family-owned chain was indeed quite a profit machine, and I assumed he was right.

“They must sell thousands of burgers a day in here,” he said. “Every day. It’s always busy like this. From the first day they opened.”

We nodded together and in my head I tried to calculate the number of burgers they could process per hour, per day, and per month.

“You know 10% of the people in this country control over half the money.”

We chatted a bit about the injustice of the recently passed tax bill, and he was pretty upset that most of the benefit went to people who already had more money than they need. Then we hit on rent. He told me that he lives in a house in Alameda that his parents built decades ago for $8,000.

“It’s worth hundreds of times what they paid for it.”

He was glad to have it, because rents have gotten so high. A friend of his son pays nearly $4000 a month for a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco.

“I used to live in San Francisco, and back in the 1970s I paid $150 for a studio apartment on Union Street. It was tiny, but it had a fireplace.”

We were on a roll, sharing stories of the good old days as we old guys like to do while waiting for burgers, when a kid behind the counter called “55!”

“That’s me,” he said, as he got up and grabbed his bag. “Nice talking to you.”

And he was off.

Sunday February 4, 2018 — Mark —