6:02 a.m. The first employee is walking to the back door. The words of a Facebook friend — “I bet if you show up at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning you will be the first in line. Culvers ain't no iPhone release day” — run through my head.
6:17 a.m. The Holsum bread truck is here. The phrase “bread man walking” runs through my head. The sign on the Golden Corral next door says “We love to party!” Sure you do.
6:31 a.m. Damn, the sun is hot. Need to find some shade.
6:37 a.m. Staring, staring, staring at the word “deliciousness” on the drive-through board. Entrée is spelled “entree.” Consider telling management. Brain still not fully functional.
7:01 a.m. Sun is over the roof. Must move again. This is the stupidest assignment I’ve ever been on, and it was my idea. I don’t even like hamburgers very much. I need a nap. Hoping I’ll feel better when I smell burgers frying.
7:23 a.m. Made contact with first employee. Nice guy. He’s optimistic about the opening in two and a half hours. He looks at me as if I’m deranged or sort of pathetic. I admire his deft perception.
7:31 a.m. They’re replacing the crooked banner with a “Now Open” sign. Still need a nap.
8:02 a.m. Guy walks up and says the restaurant doesn’t open until 10 a.m. I tell him "I know, I’m from Wisconsin, I want to be the first in and I’m going to write something for the Tucson Weekly about this." He introduces himself as owner Kyle Kolsrud. A car pulls up in front of the restaurant and four kids snake my position as first in. Heart sinks.
8:27 a.m. Need frozen custard.
8:34 a.m. These kids are making their own Culver’s hats with fabric paint and plain white hats. They deserve to go first. Three more of their friends show up and sit down, totally butting in line. Allow it. The sun must be getting to me. They are talking about Justin Bieber. I may not make it.
8:39 a.m. Door opens and a little wisp of air conditioning can be felt. It is Africa hot out here. I’m out of water. Could fry an egg on one of these stone picnic tables.
8:47: Three more kids show up and jump in line in front of me. I admire their dedication to ButterBurgers and ability to ignore the sweaty, unhappy man sitting in the sun. I’m obviously next in line. I’ve been here for almost three hours. Nobody will make eye contact.
8:50 a.m. The manager says they’re opening early. A chorus of young, happy voices and one unhappy voice fills the air.
9:02 a.m. The kids offer to let me in first after an employee says I’ve been here since sun up. Nicest kids ever! I’m going to let them go first for being so nice. When did I become such a pushover?
9:05 a.m. The first scent of ButterBurgers hits the air. It's so crazy hot out here.
9:28 a.m. We’re in! The manager says the newspaper reporter that is supposed to be here is late. Ha! Not the Tucson Weekly! I’m last in line. Whatever.
9:45 a.m. Having my first ButterBurger since the early 90s. So worth the wait. They have their own signature root beer, too. Screw McDonald’s. Culver’s is so much more awesome. The employee I met at 6 a.m. shakes my hand and says something to the tune of wanting to hook me up with a free custard. Too tired. I’m out of here.
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