It was around 12:55 AM when I walked into Keyport’s IHOP location with my friends Jake, Ben, and Jason after a night of paranormal investigating. We’re not fans of the place in any capacity, but it’s one of the only restaurants open in the area at that time. Like an after-party, being at IHOP this late is entertaining in itself. You can walk your way through the tables of stoners and drunks who have wandered in out of the cold in a sense of bloodshot bewilderment. The restaurant was even emptier than usual. A cannon blast through the dining room would not have maimed a soul. Three tables were taken. I should have known things would go awry when it took 15 minutes for two coffees and four waters to arrive.
Our waitress was ultra-pleasant. She did the best she could, like the first mate on a sinking ship whose captain had already commit suicide rather than face the music. The lifeboats were filled and the order had been given, “Every man for himself!” Jake ordered a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. He was told that no such sandwich existed. “We don’t actually have breakfast sandwiches”. There was a minute or two of deliberation before she said that she would just write it in as three separate orders: a side of toast, a side of bacon, a side of scrambled eggs, and add cheese. How quickly his simple order became the most expensive egg sandwich in the history of dining.
None of us realized, including her and maybe because of the time, that the menu does contain a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich. This is what Jason ordered after he found it moments after Jake walked the plank, substituting the ham with bacon. No problems there.
Let this sink in for a moment: you cannot order a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, but you can get a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich with bacon instead of the ham. It reminded me of a time when a restaurant would not let me order a corned beef and cheese sandwich, but rather wrote it in as a “Reuben with no sauerkraut and no dressing”. And you think critical thinking isn’t taught in schools anymore.
Anyway…two identical orders. Jake’s came on white toast, Jason’s on larger sourdough bread. Meanwhile, Ben ordered some arrangement of beef tips and scrambled eggs and I had the brand spankin’ “new” turkey, avocado, and bacon wrap. Take note of these three orders, which should have been cooked in less than 10 minutes, and mine, which is served cold and does not require any cooking at all.
The time went by. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. 40 minutes. At the 50 minute mark, reaching 1:43 AM, as I sent a Snapchat to my followers saying how I felt we would all die here whilst waiting for the food to come out, Ben’s and Jake’s hit the table. Everything was burnt, or should I say, “well done”? Jake’s toast and bacon, Ben’s beef tips and hash browns. The sandwich that did not exist and was so mind-blowing when ordered looked like someone literally dumped the ingredients out on the plate. Jason and I waited another 10 minutes for ours to come out. Funny enough, the waitress said, “I’m going to bring them out as they finish.” What was going on back there for the last hour?
Every other customer in the place had already eaten by the time we walked in. Mine, which should have been done first, was last. The “wrap” was busted before I could even pick it up. The back-end of the tortilla was wide open as if it had been shot with a rifle. The trajectory had a rear blowout comparable to John F. Kennedy’s head. Forgive me for being grim.
It was at this time when Ben noticed blue liquid resting in two coffee pots in the kitchen. Windex or some other kind of cleaning agent that could poison a customer if not adequately cleaned or accidentally spilled. Could it be that even death is a warm respite over dining at IHOP one more time?
There was a loud bang in the back just as we happened to finish. Perhaps the chef blew his brains out, threw a pan across the room out of anger for not being able to correctly wrap a tortilla, or maybe it was a gas leak that was about to take us all to the great beyond. We left shortly after. A quick stop for a late-night meal turned into a nearly two-hour marathon. Even getting the check was a chore—it was as if the night did not want to end as the clock struck two in the morning and ticked on even further. IHOP cutely has on their advertising, “Open 25 Hours”. Something tells me they need every second they can get.