In a few recent threads I have apparently made some flippant and off-hand remarks concerning Taco Bell employees about which I received the following Email: Dear Dr. Bear, I'm glad you enjoy those crunchy, saucy Gorditos and other Mexican specialties that the members of our union are pleased to prepare. It is difficult, exacting work often performed in less than optimal conditions against incredible time pressures. As the popularity of cheap Tex-Mex cooking continues to increase, franchise owners have increased their store hours often operating 24-hours a day. And we have less time to "slap together" (as you put it) your Gordito than ever while still maintaining quality. So we must ask you to stop disparaging our brothers and sisters working on the front lines of fast food. First of all, a trained journeyman Tacoer can make more money, apparently, on an hourly basis than a resident. Second, even a trainee just learning the intricacies of folding tortillas contributes to the bottom line of his employer while you, apparently, are costing yours up to quarter of a million dollars per year in lost productivity and unnecessary tests. While it is true that a novice Tacoman may occasionally place a little too much meat or cheese, we have ways of correcting this wasteful activity, usually by third or fourth day of training. If you look closely, many of the workers assembling your tacos are missing a finger or two. Enough said. You'd be suprised to learn that when an apprentice Tacoman complains about his wages and working conditions, his employers often point out that while he might have a difficult, low paying job, he should thank Santa Margarita that he's not some poor, dumb surgery resident. Sincerely, Juan Guadaloupe y Garcia Vice President, Public Affairs International Brotherhood of Taco and Salsa Workers No mas. I apologize.