I would soon discover the desperate things I would do for chicken.
After dinner on Wednesday, we decided to drive down to OC to check out the grand opening. If you are not familiar with what happens at a Chick-Fil-A grand opening, then let me fill you in. If you are one of the first 100 people at a Chick-Fil-A opening, you get 52 coupons for free number one combos. They call it "a year's worth of free chicken" (assuming that the normal human being could only eat one combo per week... psssh) but I call it 52 days worth of free chicken because if I lived close to a store, I could eat there every day.
A few years ago, nobody really knew about the easiest way to get free chicken. You could show up at a Chick-Fil-A when they opened their doors for grand opening, and you would probably have a good chance at being one of the first 100 to enter the building. Now that the "freebie" has evolved to celebrity status online, these events are usually well attended and almost always fill up in a few hours with people willing to camp out for free chicken. Sometimes, depending on the location, it may take a little bit longer to fill up. That's what we were hoping would happen at the OC opening.
We packed a couple of overnight bags and grabbed the bare essentials just in case there was an open spot. We cruised down the main drag, never really thinking that we would be spending the night at a Chick-Fil-A. I honestly thought it would be full, and we would go walk the boardwalk or maybe get some fries. We pulled into the lot, and we rolled down the window to ask an employee if the event was full. "No. I think we're at 95," she said. It was on.
You see, the first 100 people registered are guaranteed free chicken if they stay all night. Usually someone leaves or rowdy kids get kicked out, so even if you have number 101 or 102, you're probably going to get chicken. If you have number 103 - 110, you have to rely on a raffle to see if you get the last remaining prize.
My brother-in-law and I jumped out of the car and ran to the registration table. We signed up as numbers 96 and 97, and they said, "You can get your stuff from your car now, and after you are back, you cannot leave the lot again until six tomorrow morning when you get your prize." Wow, was I really going to do this? Yup, I camped out for free chicken. But I need you to understand that when I say "camped out," I don't mean in a tent. All I had time to grab was a camp chair, a blanket, a book, and my cigar box guitar (which I later played during a "talent show" that occurred while camping out).
Did I mention it was unseasonably cold?
The temperatures were in the low 50's already, and there was a steady wind blowing all night. So, I was sitting in a chair, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, waiting for my free chicken. I definitely took advantage of the free coffee. When I got a call from my wife around 10PM, she said I sounded very happy. I told her that I should sound incredibly upbeat since I had consumed four cups of coffee at that point.
I ventured into the building to use the restroom (see above paragraph about the amount of coffee I had consumed). I happened to glance down and see a roll of trash bags lying unattended on a table. My survival instincts kicked in. I quickly swiped a trash bag and shoved it into my pocket. When I went back outside, I put the trash bag on over my clothes and under my blanket. I had created a layer of insulation that would help me retain most of my body heat. I also found two portable signs that were roughly three feet tall. They are used to tell customers whether one or two drive through lanes are open. I positioned them next to my chair as a wind break.
Bear Grylls would have been proud. I was going to survive.
It was about this time that I heard a baby crying. Yes, I said a baby. There was actually more than one baby at this event. Two of them were about two months old and the other was a little older, maybe six months. These parents were so desperate for free chicken that they brought their infants out into 40-50 degree weather for an all night camp out in a tent. I told this information to my wife over the phone. She asked me a question that tested the limits of my desire for free chicken.
She asked, "Do you want the number for child protective services?"
Now, because of my part-time job, I am a mandated reporter in the state of Pennsylvania; however, we were in Maryland, and I was technically not a mandated reporter (although if there were actual abuse happening, I would, of course, report it). Besides, if these parents wanted to take their two month old children camping in order to get some free chicken, and if they thought that was a good idea, who am I to say that it's not? This is America, and I don't think they were breaking the law.
We had numbers 96 and 97, so, as I said before, we were already getting our free chicken. When they did the line check around 11PM (before this question was asked of me), one person had already left. So, number 101 was also getting free chicken. With all of that knowledge at my disposal, I told my wife, and I am not ashamed of this, that if I was holding number 102 or 103 and I thought I could get the parents to take their baby and leave, meaning I would be guaranteed to receive free chicken, I would definitely call child protective services.
I learned something about myself on this vacation. When it comes to free Chick-Fil-A, there's not much that I won't do. I kind of feel like Meat Loaf when he sings about love.