Costello’s: Or, How I Met the Guardian Angel of Sick Customers

Scroll down; looking at this logo actively lowers your life expectancy.

4647 N. Lincoln


Comrades, I’ll be honest with you (because let’s face it, if I were going to say “this statement is false,” I’d probably kill all the robots reading my blog. And – oh crap, I just did, didn’t I. Whatever, they were probably spambots). I’m a food critic with Addison’s Disease. Now, let’s not get all teary and Lifetime TV about it – I’m mostly recovered, the height of my problems was in 2006 and I’m doing great. So I’ll cut to the chase: if I throw up, I probably have to go to the ER.

Not a particularly appetizing way to begin a food review, is it? Well…

It all started when I was a little boy and my uncle Mortimer told me that God killed Santa Claus in a bar fight when I went on my bike to Costello’s in Lincoln Square. I live in Lakeview, so it’s a moderate ride away, but it seems longer with the crazy drivers.

I walk in and I have to weave around a mishmash of dancing kids in front of a live children’s singer on the podium near the entrance. It’s situations like this where you realize how much emotional, financial, and legal damage one wrong footstep of a non-skinny 23-year-old guy can create, so it was more than a little tense. Thankfully this was a one-day deal, and sometimes they get cool people from the nearby Old Town School of Folk Music.

I asked an employee if this was a kid’s birthday party or something, out of curiosity. My reply was a hateful “It’s everyone’s day.” Geez, just call me a capitalist pigdog if I am one, ma’am.

The decor relies on white, green, red, and yellow tile. It’s like if a McDonald’s had sex with a hot dog joint in Englewood – that’s the decor.

I ordered a ham sandwich with no tomatoes (I KILL TOMATO FANS I’m not a big fan of tomatoes unless they’re good), a bag of chips, and an orange juice. Should be fine, right? It looks better than the other options anyway (rule of thumb: it’s just a bad idea for your body to order any sandwich called “the mess.”) The dreary lady at the counter takes my $9.10 —

Let’s just stop right there. A GOOD MEAL AT A FAST FOOD PLACE SHOULD NOT COST NINE FUCKING DOLLARS. More than seven, and you’re getting screwed over. I didn’t know Marie Antoinette ran this place; you’d expect her to have a French thing on Michigan Avenue.

Relatively speaking, her severed head is probably 70% more appetizing than what I was served.

And after an unusually long wait where they had to bake my sandwich (not toast, mind you), I was given a steaming heap of a few pieces of something that resembled a ham sandwich if you thought hard enough. It smelled worse than anything I’d been served at Philly’s Best. In fact, that’s one thing I’ll give Philly’s Best: they aren’t this Cthulhu-forsaken place.

After two bites, I felt sick from how greasy and unhealthy it looked, smelled, tasted, felt, and even sounded like as I ate it. I had to throw the whole meal away. And this is where the Addison’s disease comes in: I staggered out the restaurant coughing, trying to find someplace to relax so that I don’t puke.

Then I remembered: oh crap, I have to ride my bike home. And this horrible sandwich shop drained my ten-dollar bill. I only had $1.50 (combined with some spare pocket change) for the CTA! So my only options were to beg the Western Brown Line stop people for 75 cents, or ride home and possibly end up in the ER.

Luckily, I chose the first option and walked my bike over to Western. I know my limits. Of course, soliciting is not welcome on the CTA, so I presented my problem straight to the CTA woman, who shall remain nameless for the sake of her job.

CTA woman: Whatchu need?

Me: Hi, I have a kind of embarrassing question – I got sick and I can’t ride my bike home, and I’m short 75 cents. don’tkickmeoutdon’tkickmeoutdon’tkickmeout

CTA woman: Come with me. Put in what you have.

So I did.

Then bless her rapid-transit heart, she put in 75 cents and told me not be embarrassed and  feel better.

Comrades, I have found the guardian angel of sick customers.

Where angels don't fear to work.


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