September 10, 2006


Yesterday, upon entering the local Taco Bell for lunch, one of the employees was affixing a sign to the front door. "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service". All my life I've seen these signs in random restaurants and fast food joints, but it wasn't until yesterday that the absurdity of the warning occurred to me. Who in hell would ever think to embark upon their day without a shirt and shoes, let alone enter a restaurant in such a state?

A Wall Street Banker? Well, not unless he slipped up and lost his fortune in some misguided maneuver, gone on a roaring bender, ditched the suit and wing tipped shoes in a dumpster and decided to declare himself a wash-up.

A stripper? If she'd been recently fired for soliciting herself to the clientele and was hard up for a job, perhaps. I can't imagine she'd attempt to work her wiles on the management at Taco Bell in order to get a job serving double-decker tacos with a smile, but you never know.

A provocative thought and one that might see me making a "run to the border" on a regular basis, but highly improbable. An outright exhibitionist? Its possible. They do need to eat like the rest of us, but given the nature of their work, I suspect they have more titillating targets to aim for than the employees at Taco Bell.

No, Ive searched my memory for moments Ive seen anyone on the street partially clothed, and theyve been few and far between and so far as a memory in which I witnessed someone make the attempt, I have none whatsoever.

The most probable recipients of such a warning are obviously the homeless and yet the vast majority of them have enough self interest to wrangle a pair of tore up sneakers and a dirty t-shirt to keep themselves protected from the elements.

So who are these people running around without shirts and shoes? Have any of you seen them? Ive seen some pretty strange stuff in my day, but never have I seen anyone attempt to break this particular code. A testament to its efficacy, perhaps? I dont think so. Anybody with enough bravado to go around with no shirt or shoes likely has an outright contempt and blatant disregard for social mores and could care less about abiding by them.

No, I think its a direct warning to those of you out there whove been on the brink of breaking the code yourselves and are ready to do something crazy. Its both a provocation and a warning: "You know you want to...but dont even think about it!" Expose yourself and there'll be no tacos for you today my friend.

So if you're thinking about following through on such a plan, think again: You may be starving for attention, or tacos, or both, but if you attempt to walk into a Taco Bell with no shirt and no shoes, you may get some attention, particularly if you're a woman, but you'll surely be tossed out on the street in short order, with an empty belly and nothing left to prove. It happens all the time. Think about it.

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