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Sad Vehicle Meals, or, dining on a plate with a horn

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Following Ohio State's loss this weekend, coach Urban Meyer resorted to eating a dinner of pizza while sitting in a golf cart. It was a sad spectacle, but he is not alone. Here, we share stories of the most pitiful meals we've ever had in a motor vehicle.

Saturday evening, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer sat deep in the underbelly of Lucas Oil Stadium, chowin' down on the spoils of his team's defeat at the hands of Michigan State.

What follows is a collection of similar sad-car-eating stories. I'll go first:

In the fall of 2001, I was 18 years old with a brand-new adulthood that I had no idea what to do with. I was pretty sure I was supposed to be in college, but I dropped myself a few hints that I had no business being there at all. This Sad Vehicle Meal story was perhaps the strongest hint of all.

I was commuting to the University of Louisville campus from a half-hour away, and since I didn't have planning skills, I was left with a terribly inefficient schedule: one class at 8 a.m., one at 1 p.m. and one at 5:30 p.m., with a lot of sitting around in between. I was also, for no particular reason, staying up until four or five in the morning. I definitely wasn't studying.

A few weeks into the semester, I dragged myself out of bed and started my drive. As I neared the expressway, I was growing seriously concerned that I would fall asleep at the wheel, so I pulled over and stopped in a Kroger parking lot. "I gotta take a nap. I'll just miss my first class." That was about 7 a.m.

I woke up a little after 1 p.m. I'd somehow managed to sleep six hours, completely uninterrupted, in a 1990 Oldsmobile with a leather interior that was baking under the sun. As I started my car, I realized that I wasn't going to make my second class. I didn't really drive to a particular place. I just drove. I thought back on a moment from my childhood. I was playing some sort of role-playing game. I had lost all my weapons and wasn't on any sort of quest. My friend laughed at me. "You're just a man!" he said. "You're just a guy! You're just a walking guy!" At this moment I wasn't really anything. I wasn't a kid. I didn't have any sort of career. I didn't belong to any association of any kind. I couldn't call myself a student, because a student attends class. I was just "a guy."

I stopped at a Fazoli's, an Italian fast-food restaurant, that was only sort of on the way to the school. I ordered a giant meatball sub from the drive-thru, ate half of it in the parking lot, and felt tired all over again.

And then it was 6 p.m, and I realized that I had fallen asleep for another four hours. How? I had missed my third and final class. That day was an 11-hour day. I had spent 10 of those hours asleep in not one, but two, parking lots. I drove home. I dropped out of school a short time later, never to return, and held a $7/hour job for the next four years, wearing a name tag that, if nothing else, guaranteed that I was something more than "a guy." The remainder of my sandwich was hours old, and smelled terrible.

That is one of many stories. I asked y'all for stories of your own, and heard some pretty good-sad tales. These are a few that I think are well worth telling.

Dave (@ThayerDavid), goin' for the elusive heartbreak/food poisoning combo:

I once ate a three-day-old PB&J sandwich in my car because my girlfriend kicked me out, I left my wallet inside and all I had was her son's old lunch.

@alpelican, noted car ant farmer:

My office has very few lunch options nearby, so I often end up eating food in my car, parked near the lake in the city where I live. I am not diligent about removing trash from my car. In fact, I usually put new trash into the largest "old-trash" bag available, as one might do with the plastic grocery bags in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. As I was eating a Wendy's Pretzel Pub Chicken sandwich last week -- a sandwich that had two bun tops instead of a real bun -- I noticed a steady column of ants exiting the trash bag. That's how you get ants: being a terrible person eating sad lakefront lunches in the car.

Kate Morrison (@unlikelyfanatic), who planned a sadmeal with Napoleonic tact:

I sat in my car eating Sonic and drinking a chocolate milkshake while crying after failing an audition. Sonic is the saddest place because you don't have to reveal your sadness to the world. You can just hide in your car and they bring the food to you.

Sean (@Ganng_Green), eater of 38 ill-gotten Ring Pops:

After I had discovered that my pet goldfish died, I was in the back of my car on the way to a family party when I discovered a large quantity of Ring Pops (two containers of 48) in the back. I started eating them while I cried about my fish. By the end of the two-hour car ride, 10 remained. Later I found out they were supposed to go to a charity during a candy drive.

Timmy, who wept through an entire Arby's meal:

I was coming back home immediately after taking the bar and having panic attacks, thinking I failed. I stopped at an Arby's at a Thruway rest stop and alternated crying/struggling to breathe/curly fries. Pretty sad stuff looking back. But hey, I passed, and am now a lawyer (wait that might be the worse story).

[NAME WITHHELD], the Gaius Baltar of car diners:

I went to Chipotle with my friends and got food to-go. The guy driving had to stop at a Publix to pick up some stuff and so I waited in the car while everyone went in to get groceries. They were in the store for the what seemed like hours, and I was already starving because all I'd had to eat that day was a can of tuna fish and a popsicle. So I ate my chips and burrito while they were inside, slowly at first, almost apologetically. By minute 45 I was tearing through a burrito, glancing over my shoulder every few seconds so no one I know would catch me eating in a car. Before I knew it everything was gone.

I crumpled up the paper and stuffed it inside my pants. It seemed like a foolproof plan. When they got back and asked where my food was I smacked my head and said that I must have forgot it. Like true friends, they drove me to fast food to get another meal, and once we were inside I ate a quarter pounder with cheese on top of a particularly large steak burrito. No one knows to this day. Don't put me on your sports website because no one can know about this. I just had to tell someone, ya know?


I had the worst hangover of my life from drinking three Solo cups full of gin. I had to get on a plane that morning, and after putting my eggs and sausage biscuit into the bushes after holding them down for five minutes tops, I went to the airport and got on the plane and realized I hadn't even hit the bottom of the hangover cave. It was still way down there, and would likely impact fully sometime halfway through the flight.

I tried everything. I drank coffee, which added energetic terror to another round of vomiting/dry-heaving. I ate one of two giant bags of gummy bears that my arm had tossed into my carry-on without looking while stumbling through the airport. When I puked those up, it looked like Candyland Genocide, and flushing it down almost felt like destroying fine art.

I kept trying. I took a shit, and cried at the same time because I was so hungover that like a horribly designed car all my wires were crossed, and when I turned on the radio the heating went on for some reason, metaphorically speaking. I spent so long in the bathroom that the flight attendant knocked on the door. I blurted out "AHMSEEEECKKGkgkdhkghhhg." I like to imagine she backed away from the door like a loved one leaving a family member to endure the change in a padlocked room.

Finally I tried rubbing one out, there, in the horrible bathroom on like the third trip of a relatively short flight. For an instant I started, and forgot there was a mirror. For a second I thought "wait, this could be hot," but then caught a glimpse of my bloated, horrific self, just a sack full of bad oysters drooling in the mirror, and gave up completely before really starting.


If you have a Sad Vehicle Meal story you feel compelled to share, you are welcome to do so below.

Photo credit: Flickr/Creative Commons