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Too Many Choices

November 18, 2021

I remember when Taco Bell first opened in my home town of San Fernando, California. For a poor boy who was working for $1.25 per hour, it was a Godsend. I often stopped in after work for an affordable quick late night meal.

Back then the menu consisted of four items: Taco, Red Burrito, Green Burrito and Tostada. The price for each was a mere 15 cents. Two years later they raised the price to 19 cents and finally to a quarter. The choices however always remained the same.

This year I visited a Taco Bell after an absence of many decades. An impatient employee kept prompting me for my order as I stared vacuously at what had become an enormous menu. Finally I stepped out of line and told the young woman that I would need more time to understand the menu. With a look of “whatever,” she turned to the person behind me and took his order without hesitation: A taco salad and a bunch of things no Mexican has ever heard of.

I stared at the hovering menu above me for quite awhile. Where were those four vintage items that I used to love? Were they hidden there somewhere in the sea of non-Mexican entrees? I’m not the slowest guy on the block but still I squinted and tried to comprehend the enormity before me.

Finally, I re-positioned myself in a long line, determined to succeed in the simple task of ordering fast food. When at last it was my turn, I blurted, “Do you still have a cheap taco and burrito?” A new millennial sighed in unblinded disgust and motioned to the Value Menu. I started my order with two tacos but was immediately interrupted: “Soft or crisp?” Not knowing the difference for sure, I replied, “One of each.” I thought that would settle the question nicely. I threw in a bean burrito and thought I had made it over all the hurdles. Then came the selection of a soft drink. It used to be Coke or Mountain Dew. Now it was a selection of seven different drinks in four different sizes. Finally I said, “I just want a small Coke.” The whipper snapper gave me a pathetic look, nodded and then asked, “Senior drink?” Sure, whatever; I just wanted to move things along.

Next as I paid I inquired about some hot sauce. They used to come in two flavors marked green and red. She motioned silently to a table with napkins. I thought I saw some packets of hot sauce there. Upon closer inspection I winced. Whoa Nellie! There were now five or more varieties with names like Fire. What was this geezer to do? I snatched up a fist full of every variety and headed to a vacant table to consummate the feast.

As I polished off the last of the offering, a soggy bean burrito that resembled a leaky diaper, I reflected on a simple fact of modern life: There are too many damn choices!

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at

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  1. Timothy Price permalink

    I never go to Taco Hell. I went to one once over 40 years ago and that was one time too many.

    Liked by 1 person

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