This story begins how all good stories do—or should: with someone running out of ramen noodles and in desperate need of a coke. It’s such a normal, mundane thing. It’s beautiful.
Well, not if you’re the one who just ran out, I guess. Which, for simplicity’s sake, is totally me, this morning, when I got up at eleven. Don’t judge; I’m a night owl. And this is L.A., where you meet the weirdest of people at all times of the day—and night—so it’s actually not the worst idea to wait until the sun doesn’t try to kill you outright to go for a food run.
I don’t make a habit of running out of food. Usually, I’m pretty organized in the “hoard crap food to mindlessly shove down my gullet” department, but things have been weird of late. Not L.A. kind of weird; weird in general. Issues with food deliveries; issues with deliveries altogether. By now, the unhappy guy who temps as a delivery donkey should have lugged huge brown packages up to my door—the elevator’s broken, as usual—at least twice since the last one arrived, but, alas, here I am, out of food and everything else even remotely considered edible.
Now you may say, why do you, Mal, as a semi shut-in programmer, live in the City of Dreams where property values are insane yet you could just as well work out of a hovel in the middle of nowhere? Good question. I don’t quite know. I mean, I knew what I was doing when I came here with a bunch of people I’d known from college and signed the lease agreement. It just wasn’t my plan. I kind of got swept up in it and figured, you only live once, right? California—that’s beaches and fun and parties, never mind that I’m not particularly fond of any of these things. And like all the other flighty, superficial assholes that clog the streets of downtown L.A., those fake friends disappeared one by one until all that was left of our little bubble was me, living far, far away from the glitz and the glamor in an apartment building that had seen better days, had sketchy air conditioning at times, and an elevator that hadn’t worked for a single day that I’ve lived here. The size of my home is small enough that if I was a caged animal, Greenpeace would go to war with whoever dared to keep me locked in here.
What I do have is super-fast internet and accounts to more streaming platforms than I can ever use in my lifetime, so it’s not all bad. Also, some pretty rad restaurants and Mike’s Deli just down the street. Mike makes the best pastrami sandwiches outside of NYC, or at least that’s what he tells everyone who happens to stumble into his humble abode for the first time. He also keeps ice-cold coke light stocked in his freezer at all times—and that’s what I need right now.
I’m on a deadline and both my stomach and brain need some sustenance, stat.
Yeah, technically, I had twenty-one days to finish my client’s project. Doesn’t mean that I sat down to code anything before day nineteen, and as usual, it turns out that a second all-nighter is required to finish it by the deadline… which is five hours and fifty-three minutes from now, at 6 A.M. Well, 9 A.M. Eastern, or asscrack-of-dawn in L.A. time. That’s what I get for taking on clients who live across the country. Since they are stupid enough to pay the extra I slap on my billable hours just because I can, I should not complain. And I don’t; I just hate running out of food when I have a solid stretch until the finish line and something gets in the way. Like a caffeine-withdrawal headache and cramps from my stomach lining digesting itself.
So a food run it is—two ice-cold coke lights, a heavenly pastrami sandwich, and some ramen, because if the last two deliveries got delayed, there’s no chance in hell the next one will arrive to sustain me through another Breaking Bad marathon after the project’s done.
Could life get any worse?
Yeah, yeah, I know. You know it does. But I don’t. Well, didn’t, that night, when I went on my food run.