Sarcasm is a dish not found on the menu.

On Saturday night my wife and I attended the Purple Reign tribute act at The Westgate in Las Vegas.  It was awesome and definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re a Prince fan like me.

Anyway, beforehand we had booked a reservation at an Italian restaurant to make it a proper date night.

Upon arrival we were shown to our seats and handed the largest menus I think I’ve ever seen. These things were like windsurfing sails.  Looking around the restaurant I could see people struggling to keep their chairs in place as they fought against the air conditioning.

At one point I saw a crying child fly overhead.

After a few minutes the waitress came over to our table.

“Hi, my name is (I genuinely can’t remember); are you ready to order, or do you have any questions?”

I looked up at her with a wry grin and replied, “Yes actually, I do have a question; is it possible to get a larger menu?  This one isn’t quite big enough.”

She smiled back and said, “Yes, I know.  The print is just so small and difficult to read.  We really need to make the whole thing bigger, sorry about that.”

At last, someone that gets it!  She knew I was joking and ran with it, commenting on the size of the text on these huge, wobbling cardboard monstrosities.  At last I had found someone that picked up on the subtleties of my English humour and gave as good as she got.

I was so happy.

After she had left, my wife (seeing my smile of satisfaction) leaned in, and said “You realise she thought you were serious, right?”

Fuck.

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Guzzling gas and soda: A comparison

Last month, whilst in Vegas visiting the in-laws, my wife and I stopped for gas (or ‘petrol’ as it’s known in the civilised world). The way they ‘pump gas’ in America is in complete contrast to how we do it in the UK.

Here we drive up to the pump, get out of the car, open the petrol cap and start filling. When we’re finished we head into the shop and pay for it.  In America they drive up to the pump (from any entrance I might add; none of this ‘way in’ and ‘way out’ bollocks), go into the shop, pay in advance for fuel (and snacks and beverages) and then head back to their vehicle and fill up.

The American approach comes with two pros and a con.

Pro number 1 – If you decide you want to spend $30 on gas (petrol), you pay the clerk in the shop and your pump is credited with exactly $30. There’s no chance of putting in more than you can afford. And on top of this, you can clip the trigger in position and leave it pumping fuel knowing you will never put in more than you want to spend.

pump gas

Genius.

Why aren’t we doing this?

It saves on hand strain and gives you more time to do other things, like eating.

If you then discover that your tank only needed, say, $25 worth of gas (petrol) you go back inside and the clerk behind the counter gives you back the difference.

Simple.

Pro number 2 – There’s no chance of people filling up and then not having the means to pay, or filling up and fucking off.

It’s a bit like prostitution but with pumps instead of pimps.

Con – You don’t get to play the ‘Petrol Pump Game’.

The what?

Allow me to elaborate. Let’s say you want to put £30 of fuel in your vehicle’s tank.  You start filling up until the price gets to somewhere around £29.85 at which point you ease off the trigger, slowing down the pumping speed.

(He he)

Then you start to adopt the technique of squeezing the trigger gently at little intervals to hit the price exactly at £30.

£29.85

Gentle squeeze.

£29.91

Gentle squeeze.

£29.95

Very gentle squeeze.

£29.96

Very gentle squeeze.

£29.97

VERY gentle squeeze.

£29.99

A squeeze so gentle it wouldn’t pop a soapy bubble even if your fingers were covered in coarse sand.

£30.01

Bollocks!

You then decide to go to £31.

Squeeze.

£30.85

Gentle squeeze.

£30.91

Very gentle squeeze.

£30.97

VERY gentle squeeze.

£30.98

A squeeze so gentle it can’t be measured at a microscopic level.

£31.01

Fuuuuuuck!!

This continues until you either:

  • Finally hit a round number.
  • Admit defeat and pay the extra penny, convinced the clerk is laughing at you behind those eyes.
  • Fill your tank.

It’s not a great game and can be quite costly, but there’s no feeling like hitting the price dead on, first time.  I’ve been known to let out the occasional air grab, sometimes accompanied by an “Aww Yeah!”

Anyway, whilst at the gas (petrol) station in Vegas I decided to get a drink because it was a very hot day, or as the locals call it; “a day”.  I was expecting to see a few fridges full of various beverages, the brands of which I’d never heard of, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer choice of refreshments available to me.

As well as the aforementioned fridges full to the brim with beer, wine, sodas (soft drinks) and so on, there were also aisles (plural!) of crisps (chips), nuts, beef jerky, slim jims (Peperami), candy (sweets and chocolate), cakes, sandwiches, cereals and other brightly coloured bags of chemicals and deliciousness too numerous to mention.

Most of these on a ridiculously huge scale!

big rice cake

And it didn’t stop there. There was a hot counter that had burgers, hot dogs, burritos, nachos, pies and pasties (the UK word for a type of pie and not the US word for a small plastic nipple hat)

In addition there was a coffee station that had more options than a Starbucks, a milkshake station that not only allowed you to choose your flavour(s) but also how thick you wanted it, a massive slushy machine with various flavours and the most amazing machine I’d ever seen; a touch screen soda dispenser with an overload of choices.

Oh, and everything was self-serve.

So let me tell you about this epic soda machine.

Firstly you’re presented with a screen with 24 choices of beverage.

That’s 24.

imagesPR1FKG3G

This is a significantly larger choice of drinks than any dispenser I’ve ever seen in the UK, which usually consist of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and Fanta.

That’s 4.

It’s an impressive choice but I wasn’t surprised at all because it’s what I expected from an American soda machine.  I selected Caffeine Free Diet Coke and prepared to fill up my oversized 64oz (approx 2 litre) plastic cup.

But no, there was another layer of choices awaiting me.

images34RVM3MM

Yes, that’s right.  I could have…

  • Cherry
  • Orange
  • Vanilla
  • Raspberry
  • Lime
  • Cherry Vanilla

…versions of Caffeine Free Diet Coke.

What the hell??  That’s AWESOME!

This got me thinking, is it the same for other drinks?

Yep.

imagesLH6K4J4H

Orange Fanta Zero comes with the option of:

  • Cherry
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Grape
  • Lime
  • Fruit Punch
  • Peach

imagesNXJC7Q8I

Lemonade comes with the option of:

  • Cherry
  • Orange
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Fruit Punch

images3KHD0GK8

Even Ginger Ale gets a flavour makeover:

  • Orange
  • Cherry
  • Vanilla
  • Lime
  • Raspberry

My wife wanted Dr.Pepper and she had the choices of Cherry Dr.Pepper or Cherry Vanilla Dr.Pepper in addition to the (now somewhat boring) regular Dr.Pepper.

I’d never seen anything like it.

And yet, with all the awesome innovations in convenience and technology, the Americans STILL don’t appreciate the importance of privacy in the toilet!

stall gap

“Peek-a-boo! I see poo!”

A caffeine kick

One of the guys at work just proudly showed me his new big coffee mug. 

It’s a monster.

phat mug

The word ‘Phat’ was actually used, even now in the year 2014.

“If we were to ‘cheers’ right now” he said, holding up his mug to clink it against mine, “I would knock you through that wall and into the office behind you”

wall smash