Monday, August 16, 2010

Been There, Done That: Elvis

In the summer of 1977, I was a hard-working post-graduate student living in Bloomington, Indiana, where I had attended Indiana University. Because I did not get a teaching job right away after graduation, I took the next best offer---becoming an administrative assistant at McDonald’s.

Now, I won’t go too far off topic here, but let me just say, a job like that isn’t nearly as nasty as some of you might think it could be. Most of the time my job kept me away from both the counter and the grill, spending my time instead, counting the money! I got to leave the store every day for an hour while taking the money to the bank to be deposited. If only the contents of that bag could have found its way into my account each day. . . Alas. I digress.

Another perk for this still-starving ex-college student---during the hours I worked, I got to eat for free. Those free meals sure saved my budget, especially the days I worked both the breakfast and lunch hours. Even with all those free meals, I never grew tired of the fare, and believe it or not, even today, McDonald’s is my favorite place to eat food.

I guess I need to say it may have also been a favorite for someone else---someone who was famous---because one night, we served up Mickey D’s to the King himself. That’s right, Elvis stopped by my McDonald’s in Bloomington, Indiana, the store on North Walnut.

The Day: June 26, 1977. The time nearly midnight. For some reason I was in the store, maybe covering a weekend shift for another employees. I don’t remember the exact specifics of that night’s reason. I do know that a few weeks earlier a friend and I had discussed going to Market Square Arena to catch the Elvis Presley concert, but as I said, I was post-college poor and decided to skip the opportunity.

I hadn’t really been all that into Elvis anyway, and thought it wouldn’t upset me to miss the show, although I did have a tiny twinge of regret when the night of the show actually came. Of course, there was no way to know this would actually be the last opportunity I would have ever had to see the King of Rock & Roll perform in person.

Right before midnight, the evening crowd of hungry college students had slowed, and I was at the front counter, taking a minute to actually get it wiped down. We didn’t have many sandwiches made, the earlier bin count completely wiped by the last mad rush.

A car light flashed across the store window, and I realized a white limousine had pulled into the parking lot. This was something new. I couldn’t remember ever seeing a limo in the McDonald’s lot. Packed school buses yes, but a limo? Never.

A minute or so later, the driver of the limo came into the store, walking toward me at the counter.

“May I take your order?” I said, like a good little McDonald’s employee.

The Memphis drawl was unmistakable. “Yes, ma’am. I need two Big Macs a couple of large fries and two of the largest Coca Colas ya got there. And Elvis, he wants two Quarter Pounders with cheese, a large french fry, and a chocolate milk shake.”

Elvis! I had trouble making my hand work to write down the order. “El–Elvis? As in THE Elvis?” I stammered.

“Yes, Ma’am. He’s in the car and says he’s hungry,” the limo driver said.

“Oh, we’ll get that order ready right away,” I said, as I called back the order to the grill cook, who was standing behind the order window, with his mouth hanging wide open. I sort of snapped my fingers and he got busy. “Any pies with that order?” I added, knowing the script of the up-sell quite well.”

“Sure. Toss in a couple. How much we owe you, ma’am?” the driver asked and somehow I managed to punch in the correct items before giving him a total. He handed over the cash---maybe I should have traded it out with someone and put their money in the till. After all this money was only one step away from Elvis himself---and I gave him his change.

Someone else made the shake and drew the sodas from the fountain. By then the food was ready. I placed it in the paper bag and handed it over---food fit for a King.

The driver tipped his hat---yes, he wore one of those limo driver’s hats like you see in the movies—picked up the food order and exited toward the limo, leaving a store filled with employees who couldn’t believe what had just happened. A few minutes later, the driver---and Elvis---drove away.

I guess you could say the rest was history. The Indianapolis concert was the last Elvis ever gave. And on August 16, 1977, the King was dead. Yet here, these thirty-three years later, I still remember the night I almost met the legend, the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Aaron Presley.

Long live the KING!


LauraLeigh said...

Nice LuAnn.....I am also remembering Elvis today.

susan dayley said...

In Aug. 1977 I was working in a run-down burger joint in an old area of Pocatello, Idaho. The radio was a box with a screen in front for the single speaker and knobs to adjust the volume and tune the stations with. It was a slow day and we were gathered around the grill area. There were three of us talking about highschool and boys when the radio crackled with an important announcement. The voice spoke the words, and then stopped. Seconds went by and the station did not broadcast anything. The air of the burger place around us became suddenly hot and still. Elvis was dead. How could those words hold meaning to us? We were too young to really understand, and yet, we knew something had changed. As if the rotation of the earth had skipped like a phonograph needle on an old 45.

Sherry of IN said...

Luann - gr-8 story. Too bad you couldn't have met Elvis at that time. My sister actually attended that concert in Indianapolis.

I remember vividly the day he died - I was standing by my friend's car and we were talking and mom yelled out - Elvis died. So shocked. I still love watching his movies.

We would get along great - I love McDonald's too.

Curtis Moser said...

Luann, what a great story!