As I was adding a few funny anecdotes to my origin story (it’s my current work in progress and it’s massive, so please be patient), I remembered a unique couple of girls from many years gone by. These two always went out of their way to harass me at work while I was a dumb teenager. They tried to tempt me with the most illegal of forbidden fruit (gross) while I was too busy slinging shitty food to the masses and kissing all the asses in order to gain more responsibilities. This is a story from 25 years ago, when all I wanted out of life was to aspire to the coveted title of “shift manager of a shitty restaurant”. A man’s gotta have some goals, dawg!
Full disclosure: This was my second “real job” as a 16 year old (since working a city stage was too sporadic to count as actual income, despite being fun as hell) and it was the most dead-ended of dead end jobs you can possibly imagine. If you haven’t figured out the restaurant I’m talking about from all the depressing clues I’ve laid out, I’ll just spell it out for you: I started my illustrious career in the hot sauce-soaked trenches of Taco Bell. If you are unfamiliar, it is a place that bleeds ingenuity, crafting around 30 different menu items from the same 5 ingredients. It wasn’t the most glorious or glamorous job, but when your car insurance (for a fucking rusty Beetle pushing 36 hp) was $160.00 a month, and you only made $4.25 an hour, you had to really put in the hours if you wanted to keep your wheels on the road (mostly) and your newfound freedom intact.
I worked from 3pm to 9pm almost every weekday, and put in 8 hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays. That’s a lot of hours for a kid, despite the fact you could buy a newspaper for a quarter. While I took getting kicked in the dick by capitalism in stride, I also learned new things about working as well. I got my first real experiences working alongside a large group of different people that each had unique “skill sets”. I worked with the homecoming king at Mullen High, every day we made each other laugh ourselves sick impersonating Beavis and Butt-Head over the intercom (people really hated that shit). I worked with a guy who wanted to be the next Prince, and I had to put up with plenty of his horrific singing and dancing and subsequent falling on the grease-covered floors. I also worked with a guy named Tony who was in his mid thirties and was trapped in a sexless marriage and could not stop drooling over anything that walked through those front doors. Every person I worked with was an extreme cartoon caricature, and you had to be weird as balls to willingly stay employed at a place like that.
But one of my annoying memories as a 16 year old slinging tacos for slave wages was the random, yet constant appearances of the Taco Bell Bush Girls.
You might be wondering if they were Australian or something, but can I assure you they were not. We only called them that since they were there so fucking much that we were convinced that they lived outside in the bushes. They were 12 or 13 years old at the time, and for some reason really liked to hang out outside one of the worst fast food establishment in town for the sheer fuck of it. Kids were a lot more easily amused back then, because it was a different time. They would sit around outside the drive through window as the sun set in the distance, being obnoxious and shitty with both the customers in the drive through and the employees at the same time. I was their favorite target for attacks. Every shift I worked with always started with:
“HERYYYYY YOOOO MOTHERFUCKERS! YOU GOT THE WEED YO??”
This is what they would bellow at passing cars as they made their entrance, trying to be as gangster as a couple of 12 year old suburban girls could possibly be. Like us, they had shitty nicknames for every employee there, and they referred to me as “Benjaweenie” which was rather effective as it was both irritating and emasculating at the same time. I’m pretty sure they were mostly there because they wanted free shit. Or drugs. They really wanted drugs, too. One time, I had to check in on them when they were shooting up in the bathroom. There was another time I had to break them up as they were fighting in front of a long line of cars after they dropped acid and thought they were being attacked by characters from Yo Gabba Gabba. The notion of having a job where I had my normal duties but also had to babysit 12 year old girls that were shooting up in the bathroom blew my fucking 16 year old mind. Adulthood seemed really fucked up.
They repeatedly tried to preposition me with sexual favors for food. I never ever considered something like that since they were fucking kids, man. I think my strength to never ever give in to those creepy advances only made them treat me like I was some sort of prize. I really hated it, and it was a source of almost constant annoyance. I refused to give in, but that’s not to say that there were co-workers around me that had less moral fiber than I. There were at least a couple guys who traded a *REDACTED* for a couple taco supremes, and this saddened me that a couple children would actually do something that awful for $1.25 worth of shitty food.
These two poor souls were really lost, and seemed to always make the worst possible decision every step of the way. They became a running joke with my shift manager, but I always felt bad that they had to resort to these sorts of measures for either sustenance or entertainment. There’s a photo of a little girl smoking Marlboro Reds in a kiddie pool that would always remind of these two every time I saw it. I’m not gonna post that photo here, since I don’t wanna mess with credit (and the photographer has passed as well), but it is seriously heart wrenching. It’s a vivid portrait of youth wasted, and a little girl that was forced to grow up well before she was ready for it. Every time I saw that picture online, I was reminded of the Bush Girls and all the crazy shit they did for fun, a fix, or survival.
I seriously thought that they would run into some serious problems in their late teens, and judging by the track they were on. I was pretty confident that both of them probably would have a hard time making it out of their 20’s in one piece. I figured that in the tail end of the 2010’s, I would have to look though page after page of obituary to find out whatever happened to them. I’m an optimist by nature, but even I have my limits.
But the worst case scenario wasn’t the case!
Both of them are alive and well! While most other social media leads are kinda dead, never ever give up on the all- encompassing power of Facebook. It’s pretty much PhoneBook for everyone that exists in the world (Note: that’s an old person joke- we used to have to look people up alphabetically with big stupid books).
(A) is still alive and well, and living in rural Utah. She still has the same mischievous grin that used to be held together with a massive set of braces. She’s got three kids that are at least middle school aged, and seems to be enjoying a slower paced life far away from the drug-fueled bullshit of the city. All her settings are set to private, so I don’t have a lot of info other than that she looks happy at her current stature in life. She also really into law enforcement now, as she is “friends” and following both Utah and Lakewood police departments. This newfound love for Johnny Law is a far cry from the days of nearly OD’ing in a Taco Bell bathroom. It appears that she still goes by her thug nickname “Shorty”, which is something that’s kinda jarring for a middle aged woman sporting mom jeans.
(D) is the same as well. graduating from college in 2004 and currently working in the medical field. After completing school, she moved back to Denver and works at a local hospital. It’s safe to say she’s doing good, despite being very vocal about her status currently set as “single and NO DM’S”. I can’t really gather anything else on her life, nor would I really want to, for I am nothing more than an NPC in her story. I’m not going to reach out to either one of them at all, I just wanted to make sure they were doing well and defying the odds of a very rough start to life. I couldn’t be happier that both of these two are happy and flourishing.
Plus, I really don’t wanna be introduced to her kids as “that one guy I tried to blow for 3 tacos back in the 90’s”. That’d be a bit awkward.
(Sorry, I just refuse to post pics or names as I respect privacy!) I just wanted to share this little story to let you know that even in the worst possible conditions, flowers can still bloom inside a desert- People can always surprise you!