Hot dog

Nothing irks me more than when I think I have wasted money. I believe it occurs most while dining out – paying for food that wasn’t all that great is the ultimate waste of one’s hard-earned dollar.

Sometimes it’s unavoidable – like when you’re at an amusement park. You pay $5 for a slice of pizza that tastes like cheese and sauce on Wonder Bread, and another $4 for a soda that is 85% ice cubes. But unless you are willing to get hand-stamped, exit the park and picnic out of your car, you have little choice. (By the way, we did that all the time as teens going to Great Adventure in New Jersey)

However, when I am free to chose amongst the hundreds of eating establishments in town, and I chose a clunker, I get mad. That happened to me yesterday. Our family decided to have lunch together before hubby headed to work and my girls and I finished our prom shopping.

See, it was senior cut day, so my oldest was “off” from school. As luck would  have it, it was also the day that my youngest daughter’s school was having a BMX bike show for kids who sold enough items in their fundraiser. I blogged about my issues with this fundraiser a few months back (read it here), and vowed to boycott the school that day. So, the four of us were looking for a place to eat lunch.

There’s a restaurant called The Riverside that makes really good burgers. However, they are always crowded, and the parking lot is a hassle to maneuver around, especially when they are crowded, which they always are. There is another joint across the street called Jak n’ Jil. They’ve been in business since 1954, and are supposed to be known for their foot-long hot dogs, so we decided to give them a try.

The prices for your average burger or dog seemed reasonable enough. Some of the other sandwiches and platters seemed a bit pricey for me; a Gyro was almost $8 and I was fairly certain there was no little Greek man in the back shaving lamb off a spit. Eight bucks wasn’t worth spending if all you got was pre-packaged gyro meat.

We all got burgers or dogs, an order of fries, an order of onion rings, one milkshake, and one soda. I had water.

My dog was just ok. It tasted like a very low quality dog…you know, the kind that tastes like baloney? My bun was dry and too big for the dog – with each bite I felt like all I was eating was white bread, and then my mouth would find some of the hot dog, and my brain would say “oh, there’s some baloney.”

The onion rings, priced at $3.75 were also a disappointment. They only gave us 7 onion rings. That’s over fifty cents per ring.

When it came time to pay the bill, I was astounded when the gal behind the counter said “That will be $32.60.”

How’s that?

Within seconds my brain counted through all the things I could have bought for $32. Things that I have avoided buying because I am trying to watch every dime. Things like:

  • A haircut
  • Plants for my garden
  • Grass seed for my lawn
  • A new pot to replace the one with the bowed bottom that wobbles on my stove when I’m trying to boil water

Instead, I had spent it on HOT DOGS.

I was furious. I turned to my husband and said “Thirty-two dollars for that…can you believe it?” I didn’t care who heard. I was in no mood to be polite. I went back to check the menu and did a little quick mental math. Although all the prices seemed reasonable, once you added it all up it equaled out to a pretty pricey repast.

I usually try to keep our lunches under $20, sometimes even less if I have a coupon. Hell, I was pissed a few weeks ago when I paid over $18 for a three slices of pizza and a salad at Sabarro. And here I spent twice that amount on a lunch that was nothing more than baloney sticks.

Ugh. Thirty-two dollars on hot dogs and fries. Had they been good dogs? You wouldn’t be reading this. There’s a place where I grew up called Hiram’s that makes the best hot dogs I’ve ever had. Anthony Bourdain featured them on an episode of “No Reservations.”  Those dogs are worth paying $32 for.

So what’s a gal to do? Nothing. All I can do is put Jak n’ Jil’s on my permanent “no way, José” list. They will never, ever see another thin dime of my money.

And to add insult to injury, every time I burped I was given a gentle reminder of the money I had wasted.