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Geek Trek: The Search For Spock [Glass]
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By T. Walters

I’m sure most (if not, all) of you are aware of the promotions that fast food giant Burger King has been running for J.J. Abrams‘ box office smash Star Trek, where they offer Trek-themed toys to kids and Trek-themed drinking glasses to adults. It, of course, has been nearly beaten to death by various ad campaigns, whether in the form of radio announcements, television spots, or ridiculous-looking window clings stuck to the fronts of most of their buildings.

If it sounds like I am complaining, I assure you, I’m not. It’s been a long while since a chain such as BK has released glasses like these, because nowadays the “adult toys” usually constitute watches of some sort (like the awesome Star Wars ones or the terrible talking Simpsons ones; take your pick), and I was always a huge fan of the collectible cups and mugs that they have offered throughout the years (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Batman Forever? Yes please!). So hearing that they were going back to basics and offering a line of four cups to collect was awesome news to hear… about two months ago.

That’s right. Two months ago they announced that these would be unleashed upon the world, and two months ago I promised myself that I would make the Spock glass mine. I didn’t give a damn about Kirk, Uhura, or Nero. No, not at all. The pointy-eared half-Vulcan on a collectible cup had to be in my possession, no matter what the cost (which turned out to be $1.99 if you buy any combo meal).

The sad part is, it had completely slipped my mind that these cups had existed until last night when my friend (and fellow Star Trek lover) Ashley and I passed by a Burger King that had one of the aforementioned “ridiculous-looking window clings” proudly adorning the door, east window, west window, and just about any other clear surface that was even slightly available, after we had unsuccessfully tried to see a movie at a bargain theater at around 8 PM and loitered in a Target not too far away.

“I want the Spock glass they have there,” I said, craning my neck in the direction of the Burger King in front of us.

“I can eat there and get one for you, if you want?” she offered.

“Hell yeah, let’s do it,” I said, getting excited.

We walked into what I can only describe as not the most upstanding Burger King on the west coast, ordered, and asked if they had the glasses. They said no, that they didn’t, and we canceled our order and promptly walked out.

“We are getting one of those glasses,” said Ashley, as we made our way back to her car. “There is another Burger King not far from here; we’ll stop there to see if they have them.”

But this attempt was unsuccessful as well. We took the drive-thru this time, and was told by the crackly voice over the speaker that they too were out of the apparently sought-after glasses.

We pulled away, Ashley brainstorming what to do next. A few minutes later, we had wised up, and Ashley suggested that we search for local Burger King restaurants on her phone via Google Maps. Even cooler, she said, was that we could call each one in advance and ask them if they had the glass in question. So we pulled into a parking lot that looked like it was out of a science fiction novel and started dialing away.

The first, second, and third calls were all failures; almost laughably so. By the fourth one, tension was mounting, and Ashley had decided to tack on the secondary question “Well, do you know of any Burger Kings in the area that have them?!” after the primary question was met with a solemn “No.”

After the ninth call and subsequent failure, I suggested that she stop asking the secondary question, as it was generally met with an “Oh, I have no idea,” or an “Uhhh, I dunno, man,” from one of the likely stoned or otherwise bitchy late-night King crewmembers.

“No, I’m going to keep asking it!” she said, shaking her head. “You never know what these people might be holding back!”

“All right,” I said. “But if you sound like a weirdo to these people, it’s your loss.”

Call number ten was bizarre. A girl picked up the phone and yelled “Fine then, don’t talk to me!” into the receiver before slamming the phone down onto its cradle.

“What was that?!” Ashley exclaimed. “Fuck this, I’m calling these assholes back,” she said, anger in her voice.

The phone rang four or five times before being picked up, after which Ashley was greeted by what apparently was the standard telephone greeting for all employees who work at Burger King anywhere in the world. She asked the usual two questions, and hung up, frowning.

“Well, there aren’t many more in the area. Just two, and we’ll be done,” she said, defeat becoming more present in her voice. But we didn’t need the two of them. The eleventh Burger King we called (and the 13th overall that night) had them in stock! Her eyes widened as she asked the woman on the other end of the phone to hold a glass bearing Spock’s image on it for us.

“Which one is that?” asked the lady.

“Oh, Spock? He’s the one with the pointy ears!” she said, smiling.

“And the blue shirt!” I whispered.

“And the blue shirt,” she added.

“Well, when are you going to pick it up?” queried the woman. “We can’t hold them forever.”

“We are on our way right now!” said Ashley, pulling out of the space-age parking lot and onto the street. “See you in a few minutes!”

The lobby of the Burger King in question closed at 10 PM, which meant that we had approximately half an hour to drive there, order, eat, and leave. There was always the option of drive-thru (which for some reason closes at 2 AM), but we wanted to avoid this at all costs. I did especially, because I secretly wanted to be able to unveil my newfound holy grail underneath fluorescent lights with the sound of French fries sizzling in the background as jealous employees of the restaurant looked on. This was the image I had in my head, and I had to achieve it.

Ten minutes later, we were literally three blocks away from where we had started. What neither of us had realized was that there was a BK right down the street from the movie theater we had unsuccessfully tried to gain access to earlier; much to our disdain.

After laughing this coincidence off, we walked into the 11th Burger King that was allegedly holding a glass for the two of us behind the counter, and Ashley ordered her meal.

“We’re the people that called about the glass,” she said, sheepishly grinning.

“Oh, okay. One second,” spoke the man behind the counter in broken English, holding up a single finger.

He returned about thirty seconds later with an older woman with long grey hair who had the box containing the cup in her hand.

“You wanted Spock, right?” she asked, trying to pry open the box with her fingernails. By this point, everything I had ever been taught about the term “mint and in-box” was screaming at me to stop her from doing more damage as she scraped her manicured nails across the top of the cardboard.

“I’m sure it’s in there, you don’t have to check,” I interjected lamely, panic in my voice.

“Naw, I got this,” she said, finally succeeding in opening the box. She took it out, turned it over in her hand a few times, and looked at me over her bifocals, undoubtedly silently judging me. She then jammed it back into the box and handed it to me over the counter.

But while this pointlessly hurtful exchange was happening, something was going on with the other two people in the room. Ashley’s debit card had been declined.

“What? That shouldn’t have been declined! I have like $24 in that account!” she said, before putting her head down on the counter. Of course, her combo meal plus the glass had added up to around $9.50, so she should have been perfectly fine. But, for some reason, it continued to decline, even after two more swipes.

“Well, you could always go to the bank across the street and get cash,” said the grey-haired woman, slightly annoyed.

“All right, we’ll be back in a few minutes,” Ashley said, walking towards the door.

We stepped out into the night, laughing at our unluckiness.

“This is just proof, man. Murphy’s law at work!” she yelled, throwing her hands up into the air wildly.

“Whoa, that’s actually really fitting of the situation. What could have gone wrong did go wrong. Weird,” I replied, wondering if some supernatural deity was against us on this night. We pulled over to the ATM of a Wells Fargo bank that was positioned straight across the street, and the small illuminated screen confirmed that yes, Ashley did have twenty-something dollars in her account. After staring at the numbers for a second, she hit the “withdraw cash” button and chose the option for $20.

It was declined. She tried again. Declined. She took her card out and put it back in, then went through the same motions. Declined for the third time.

“Look, there’s another bank across the street!” she exclaimed, pointing to a Chase branch even further out of the way.

Of course, we drove on over, and she jammed her card into the machine. This time, it said that she had $8 and some change.

“Why would the other one lie to me like that?” she asked, truly wanting to know the answer. “Oh well. I guess I’ll just get a cheaper meal.”

By the time we managed to get back over to the Burger King side of the street, it was already around 10:05 PM. Assuming the lobby was closed, she made a beeline straight for the drive-thru. Just like everything else that night, sacrifices had to be made, and she knew it.

As we pulled into the lane, we both started analyzing the menu, scouring it for something that was under $8. We managed to order a Junior Whopper meal with the glass for just under our price limit. Success!

After ordering, we pulled forward and collected our prizes. For her, what we came to call “victory fries,” a Dr. Pepper, and a Whopper. For me, a cup that is now considered highly amongst my possessions as one of the most important; albeit one of the ones with one of the best stories attached to it. Sure, it was a Lord of the Rings-type quest for something that probably cost next to nothing to make. Sure Ashley and I had to go through what felt like hundreds of employees to get it. But would I trade it for the world? Nope. It has far too many memories attached to it already, and I haven’t even taken one sip out of it yet.

Above are pictures of my Spock cup that I got at a Burger King outside my area code. I don’t care if you’ve seen it 1,400 times in commercials and other forms of advertising; hell, I don’t even care if the image of this specific glass is permanently burned into your retinas. I went through absolute hell for this BK exclusive, and it means a lot to me. So bask in its glory. Please?


  1. great story.. reminds me of 1990 when BK had the Simpson doll collect them all mania that I was slightly caught up in.

    Comment by Devon — May 15, 2009 @ 10:22 pm

  2. I still have the Maggie doll from said mania, I think. Was that the one where the bodies were plush and the heads were hard plastic?

    Comment by T. Walters — May 16, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

  3. Great story. I sympathize, because being the super-geek that I am I just had to get all four. And of course since there’s only really a couple BK’s nearby it took me a little while. The kicker is that I don’t even like fast food.

    Comment by Bill — May 17, 2009 @ 12:12 am

  4. I have been going through a similar gauntlet to obtain a set for myself and my trekie mother, and I hate to tell you this, but you can just buy the glasses. You don’t have to buy a disgusting, processed, rainforest deforesting death meal to get them. That should have been one of your questions.

    Comment by Lindsley — June 3, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

  5. Dear “Geek-Trekkie”,
    I absolutely love the story. It reminds me of when I was younger and would drive ALL over town for a full set of glasses. I currently own a full set of Star Trek III: Search For Spock glasses and am looking to sell them to someone like yourself… someone who would REALLY appreciate them as I have for ??? years. The set also has an extra Fal-Tor-Pan glass which someone gave to me that I would like to throw in. Make me an offer that would include shipping. Let’s talk… [email protected] Good Job!!!

    Comment by Bonnie — December 27, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

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