Early fall, 1990.

Vacaville Wendy’s.

I was traveling with my aunt and uncle down to the Bay Area to meet my parents, who were coming back from a trip. On the way down, we stopped at the Vacaville Wendy’s (only a mile or so from the Nut Tree, when it existed).
Back around that time was when Wendy’s had just unveiled the mighty Superbar, their secret weapon that was supposed to revolutionize the industry and change the way we look at fast food forever. For those of you who don’t remember the Superbar, it was essentially just a smorgasbord-type of setup that allowed you to shovel as much food as you wanted onto your plate. If I recall, the catch was that you were only supposed to do this once… and if you tried going back for seconds, they would send a maroon-shirted Wendy’s drone over to intercept and admonish you.
I had been to the Redding Wendy’s Superbar, but it paled in comparison to the Vacaville one. This one, presumably because it was in a higher traffic area, offered a substantially wider array of practical meal choices.
We ordered, and I was handed my Superbar tray and salad bowl. I was stoked… for soon, I would enjoy a tasty ensemble of mini-tacos, Jell-O, salad, and chocolate pudding. I started to load up, filling my main tray with the tasty mini tacos and other heatlamp food. I moved on to the Jell-O and chocolate pudding, making sure not to mix them in with the other stuff. I had to do all this somewhat quickly, as there were a couple of people coming down the Superbar line after me. I wasn’t a huge salad fan, but I moved over and loaded up my salad bowl with lettuce leaves. I threw in a few cherry tomatoes, got some dressing and croutons, and took one last look at the Superbar to see if there was anything I’d missed. This was my one trip through, and I had to make it count.

Just then, I heard a strange, scraping “SCRIK SKRIK SCKRICKK” sound somewhere nearby. I recognized it as the same sound you’d hear when scraping a spork against a styrofoam lunch tray. Upon realizing that this sound was coming from my lunch tray, I looked down to see what it was.
A big, fat cockroach the size of a fifty cent piece was angrily trying to climb out of my salad tray, and was not having much luck. It was so gross that it made me itch, and I reached down and flicked the thing out of my tray. I didn’t see where it landed; maybe even back in the salad where it presumably came from.

Still somewhat in shock, I turned around to the woman who had been standing behind me.

“Did you see that?”, I asked. She had a wide eyed, vacant look on her face. I could tell that she had seen the whole thing.

BLLK, she said, as she dropped her giant super-sized soda onto the floor. Her Coke had spilled everywhere, yet she just stood there in a daze. It was as if she had been more affected by the roach than I had, and her speech and motor skills temporarily shut down.
Out came the maroon-shirted Wendy’s guy, with mop in hand. I didn’t know what to make of the situation, with a giant roach on the loose and a drooling catatonic drink spiller in front of me. I told him what had happened, but all I got was “Thank you sir, I’ve got it under control.” He wasn’t the least bit concerned about the roach in my salad.

It’s hard to remember exactly what happened after that, but I went back up to the counter and was awarded some free (non Superbar) food after I told them about the roach. They didn’t seem to be worried about disease-spreading vermin in the food either, but at least they took care of me.
I’m not sure what happened to the lady. I think she eventually returned to her senses and went to sit down with her family.

Fortunately for all of us, the ill-fated Superbar was eventually phased out and has not been seen in a Wendy’s since the mid-to late 90’s. Whether or not this was due to roaches in the food is anybody’s guess.