Alex Bowen couldn’t sleep. After a night of drinking in West Columbia, South Carolina, on Nov. 30, the former Army medical sergeant ventured to a local Waffle House around 2 a.m. to fill his rumbling stomach. But when he arrived, he found “a ghost town.”
“I walked outside, walked around the store, returned inside — I couldn’t find anybody,” Bowen told Task & Purpose. “But I knew that delicious bacon was just four feet away, so I took matters into my own hands and made it happen.”
Bowen fired up the grill and whipped together his favorite: a Texas bacon cheesesteak. As he turned a corner, he came upon a Waffle House employee fast asleep. “I got there and expected to be greeted by a smiling Waffle House employee,” Bowen told a local ABC News affiliate. “They looked tired, they were sleeping … I was like, ‘go ahead and rest, fam, I got this.”
“We’re glad Alex was able to enjoy his Texas bacon cheesesteak,” the company said in a statement. “We’ve apologized to Alex and have invited him back to eat with us. We also promised him we’d do the cooking the next time.”
Fuck that: Despite the potential liability posed by an unauthorized cheesesteak (or any unauthorized counter incursions, tbh), a seasoned Army medic like Bowen is the ideal grill invader.
After enlisting in the Army in 1999 as an information system analyst, Bowen was reclassified as a combat medic specialist and assigned to 261st Multifunctional Medical Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2004. That December, he was deployed to Iraq as part of a special police training team, training and advising Iraqi special operations forces.
After returning to Bragg, Bowen was assigned to the 550th Area Support Medical Company before deploying to Kabul, followed by stints at Bagram Airfield and Jalalabad attached to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment. After nearly 12 years of service and multiple tours as part of the Global War on Terror, Bowen finally separated on April 23, 2011.
Now a professional floorer angling to start his own business, the Waffle House incident may be the oddest thing that’s happened to Bowen.
“I tell yah, I’m 36, and I’ve lived a wonderful life with a lot of wonderful experiences,” he told Task & Purpose. “Now the BBC is calling.”