Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Desktop Archaeology: The Power of a Receipt

It's not often that I'm home long enough to clean my office, but occasionally certain forces come into alignment just long enough for me to make some progress on the project. When I do clean my desk, I often unearth pieces of paper about which I had long forgotten. I like to think of rooting around through forgotten ephemera as desktop archaeology.

Recently, I was going through a neglected pile, and I found a stash of receipts. It is my habit to clear out receipts on a semi-regular basis, but somehow these had eluded my attention for the better part of two months. As I looked down upon one particular receipt, a smile crossed my face as I vividly remembered the purchase.

I wasn't planning on purchasing any food while waiting for a connection at the Washington Dulles airport. However, a Five Guys burger restaurant with 50 pound sacks of potatoes stacked in the dining area caught my eye.

Any establishment that is willing to cut their fries from fresh potatoes is worth trying, so I got in line and purchased a small order of fries.

When my order was called, I received a paper sack containing a small drink cup overflowing with fries. As far as I can tell, the cup is merely a formality since they fill the cup and most of the bag with fries. Embracing the spirit of informal dining, I dumped the contents of the cup into the sack along with a packet of salt and two packets of pepper. After a liberal shake in the bag, the fries were seasoned to my liking, and I took them to a nearby table. The fries were by far the best that I've had at an airport.

I hadn't thought about the fries until I unearthed the receipt, which is notable because they made quite an impression at the time. Several hours after finding this receipt, I left for a trip to Nashville, TN.

As fate would have it, if you believe in such a thing as fate, I stumbled upon another Five Guys restaurant that very day. I figured that any establishment that puts such effort into their french fries must surely put similar care into the rest of their offerings; I was determined to put this theory to the test. Two days later, I got my chance, and I wasn't disappointed.

Burgers at Five Guys come with an unlimited number of toppings, which include grilled onions, mushrooms, hot peppers and a variety of condiments. The burgers are as well executed as the fries.

The lesson here is that something as simple as a little slip of paper can remind you about something wonderful, so you might as well clean your desk every now and then. Had I not found that receipt on that particular day, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed a most satisfying lunch at Five Guys.

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  1. I love Five Guys- we are surrounded by them. I like mayo on my fries! Funny- I was just looking through a drawer this morning and found the note my hubby left on my car windshield asking me out on our first date. It is a treasure!

  2. I have never heard of Five Guys, but if I ever see one I'll be sure to stop. I love good French Fries. Yumm.

  3. Robin: That's not odd at all. The French seem to like mayo on fries. Personally, I go with mustard when I'm feeling like something different.

    Jenny: Oh yes, the fries are very good. We drove by one yesterday and I didn't have time to swerve off the highway so we kept going. It was very sad.