Not every girl can claim she’s had a date at a Kwik Trip, but most girls are smart enough to not drive through a snow storm and expect the workers at 24 hour Perkins to do the same. It was the week before classes officially started at my college, and although my boyfriend and I had seen each other many a time since we both got back to school, we still hadn’t made the time to go on an official date. So, after days of rearranging our rooms, setting up our schedules for next semester, buying textbooks, and playing Fortnite with “the boys,” we found our only open window of date opportunity was 11 PM. On a Wednesday. In the middle of a snow storm.
For most other college girls, this wouldn’t be a problem. Lots of college towns have local bars and cute hipster hideaways open to the wee hours of the morning—and now that I think about it, despite its minuscule size, my college town does too. But, in our weary 11 PM old person minds—and according to Google Maps!!—the Perkins in the next town over was the only place we could actually get sit down food in a night like this.
As we made our trek to the car, I questioned my decision to wear a cute date night outfit combo of ripped jeans and crop top with a winter jacket and snow boots, but we were quickly bundled into the heated car, and let Julie Andrews’ warm dulcet tones from my favorite Sound of Music CD keep us warm.
We could hardly see the road. Our windshield greeted the specks of light hail with open arms, and the entire glass windshield would be covered with ice within seconds, despite our frequent stops to scrape the windshield down. So instead, stupidly, we drove on, hunched over in our seats like hobbits, to peer at the road through the slimmer of clarity the defroster granted the bottom ten inches of the windshield. If other cars had been around, we would have pulled over or turned around immediately, but no one else was as irresponsible as us to take on this night of snow—except, of course, we hoped, the 24 hours Perkins workers.
“This is probably the worst decision we’ve ever made.” I said.
“Do you want to turn around?” My boyfriend asked. “We’re already halfway.”
Visions of horrible car accidents darted about my conscious, but were quickly displaced by Perkin’s waffles which danced around my head, like the visions of sugar-plums in the mind of the children in Twas the Night Before Christmas. Only I was an adult, who was supposed to have a fully formed prefrontal cortex.
“Let’s keep going.”
After a few more stops to wipe down the windshield, Perkins was in our sight. Luckily, my boyfriend remembered the entrance didn’t lead directly into our current road, so we took a turn past the Budget Inn Motel (Free HBO if you stay two nights!!) and wound up in the very very very empty parking lot.
“Maybe all the Perkins employees are parked in the back?” My boyfriend asked. Water was dripping down the side of his face from his last time scraping down the windshield.
“And maybe they’re sleeping inside.” I joked. “Look how dark it is in there!”
“So…” My boyfriend’s voice trailed off. “Snow waffles for dinner?” We peered outside at the many snowbanks edging farther and farther into the parking lot. My boyfriend’s thumb was scrolling through Google Maps all the while, grimacing at every closed label stamped at the bottom of each restaurant.
“If we wanted to eat snow, we could have stayed on campus!” I laughed, watching his hands dance about his phone.
“Kwik Trip.” He said suddenly, the epiphany lighting up his eyes. “I need gas anyways. And they have the best hot dogs. We can have an indoor winter picnic.”
I nodded silently, the idea rolling about in my head. We had been to Kwik Trips before on various road trips when my ever-hungry boyfriend would pick up a hot dog or a donut to keep his energy up. But we had never gone expressly to Kwik Trip in cute outfit, let’s-have-a-date mode. To my knowledge, nobody has.
As soon as I consented, we were back on the road with a freshly scraped windshield. Julie Andrews egged us on as our stomachs growled and the shrinking visibility of the windshield made us crouch even further down in our seats. Soon, the red glowing lights of our Mecca was in view, and my boyfriend gently turned the car over three or four impending snow banks before we came to a stop by one of the gas pumps.
“Dinner!” We cheered, thinking of the promised hot dogs. I forged ahead to scout for goods for our indoor picnic while my boyfriend replenished the car with fuel. I ducked down against the cold, my knees screaming from behind the rips in my jeans like frightened prisoners behind bars. I had never been so happy to be inside an establishment.
The comforting thing about Kwik Trips is they all more or less look the same. Sure, the hot dogs may not be in the initial food stand by the front door, but you know there is gonna be a sign advertising said hot dogs as soon as you step inside. The pops are always in the back, in the refrigerators lining the walls. The people here are paid more than minimum wage, so you can expect to run into people who care about their job, this little safe haven found not just in Minnesota snow, but most of the United States. It’s a nice place. I’ve never been to a Kwik Trip I haven’t enjoyed.
Need a clean bathroom? There’s a Kwik Trip. Breath isn’t feeling so fresh? Buy some gum at Kwik Trip. Forgot flowers for mom’s birthday? Kwik Trip’s got them. Kwik Trip has everything. Except, of course, today.
There was the hot dog stand, as expected. Just no hot dogs.
My boyfriend entered behind me, and we stood, looking at the empty stand. “So,” he said teasingly, “maybe we will be feasting on snow waffles tonight.” However, despite a lap around the store we settled on a burger each ($1.45 per!) and a pack of preheated breadsticks with some cold marinara sauce.
I don’t think I need to tell you the burger was awful. For $1.45 I think we can all assume. The breadsticks were good despite the strange temperature combination differing between bread and sauce. But I can tell you this.
There is something about sitting in a Kwik Trip at midnight with someone you love, and being like: damn, this is it. There is something about sitting in the florescent lights of a Kwik Trip and watching people wander in and out, picking up pops, and cigarettes, and wondering what their lives are like and guessing where they’re going. There is something about driving recklessly at night and ending up in the last place you thought you’d be, eating the worst food you’d had maybe in your entire life and that moment—sitting at the window facing the snow covered gas pumps, humming The Sound of Music as you double dip breadsticks in cold marinara sauce—that is not simply a quick trip, but one of those everlasting moments carved into the eternal halls of perfection.