Krispy Kreme: ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘Sure what else would I be doing?’
Conor Pope: Why are people who hate doughnuts joining long queues to buy them?
People queue outside the Krispy Kreme outlet in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
When I watched and re-watched All the President’s Men as a teenager, I never dreamed that one day I too would scale the heights of journalistic excellence reached by Woodward and Bernstein and cover the most important story of my age – but last week it happened.
“Go out to Blanchardstown to that Krispy Kreme place and find out what’s going on,” barked the news editor after marching down to my desk in a state of agitation. “Bring me back some colour,” he demanded. “And some doughnuts.”
And with that he was gone. So was I. To enhance to the glamour of my doughgate assignment – and to avoid the Krispy Kreme-related tailbacks I’d read about – I took a bus to Blanch. It was rush hour and I stood for 40 long minutes pressed up against a man who silently dripped rain – or sweat – on to my jacket as he listened to tinny techno on headphones which seemed designed to bleed his musical preference straight into my ears.
I looked beyond the angriest family in Blanchardstown and was dismayed to see a long queue of glum-looking people snaking all the way through the car park
I was delighted as I alighted from the bus and saw the glowing neon Krispy Kreme sign in the middle distance. “Hot now,” a slightly less prominent if more promising sign said. “I’ll rock up, buy some hot doughnuts, talk to some cold dough nuts and get a bus home, job done,” I thought as I closed in on the gleaming glass and chrome sugar palace. I walked straight up to the door. “Hey buddy, there’s a queue,” shouted a red-faced man with three furious-looking children by his side.
I looked beyond the angriest family in Blanchardstown and was dismayed to see a long queue of glum-looking people snaking all the way through the car park, even though it was close to 8pm on a Wednesday evening and tumbleweeds were blowing through the aisles of the nearby Harvey Norman and TK Maxx outlets.
I say queue, but queues is more accurate. There were two of them, with about 100 sugar-starved souls in each. I joined the slightly shorter one and watched sadly as it became the much longer one. I asked a woman who looked like she might know what was going on what was going on. “That’s the express queue, she said gesturing to the queue I wasn’t in. “It’s the place to be if you just want to pick up pre-assembled boxes . This is the one if you want to pick your own.”
Not giving a rashers about the doughnuts I bought – not least because my news editor was likely to eat them all anyway – I joined the express queue just in time for it to grind to a halt. A Krispy Kreme staff member had taken on a bouncer’s role and was policing my line with ferocity, only letting a handful of people in at a time.
Bored and exasperated
Bored and exasperated and searching for the colour demanded of me, I started a conversation with a group of young men dressed in grey tracksuits and hoodies. Or at least I tried to.
They eyed me with suspicion. I explained, brightly, that I was with The Irish Times and interested in finding out why people – people not sent here on a mission that is – would bother standing in line for doughnuts when the country is literally groaning under the weight of doughnut shops and those who shop in such shops. One of the chaps plunged his hands down the front of his tracksuit bottoms, as is the style of the day, and said “F**k off, we don’t talk the press” like he was Kanye West and weary of a life spent dodging paparazzi and reading lazily cobbled-together quotes attributed to him.
With tension mounting between me and the hooded men, I let some folk who looked more in need of greasy lumps of sugar take my place beside the greasy lumps of hooded humanity and went to the back of the line.
All around me were confused faces and no one I spoke to could adequately explain what they were doing there. Some seemed to actively dislike the thing they were queuing for. “I had them in Florida once and they were effin disgusting,” a woman said as she waited her turn to pick her doughnuts.
“So, what are you doing here?” I asked. “Sure what else would I be doing?” she said.
Literally anything, I thought.
I saw a couple posing for selfies outside the shop. And then posting the pictures on the internet for other people to look at. What are we like?
The nation’s loss of the run of itself was not simply confined to people who hated doughnuts standing passively in the queue and I saw, with my very own eyes, a couple posing for selfies outside the shop. And then posting the pictures on the internet for other people to look at. What are we like?
As I marvelled at the madness of the crowd, my time came and I was ushered through the doors where I gazed in wonder at the self-styled doughnut theatre – it’s just the place where they make the doughnuts – and all the people weighed down by Krispy Kreme boxes. Then after I’d picked up two boxes of my own and handed over €25 I left, boarded an empty bus into the city and took out Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward.
It is a good read, although it could do with a decent doughnut anecdote.