As I slowly inched closer and closer to the speaker box, at which I would place my order, I felt a drip of nervous perspiration roll off my forehead.
“Do you know what you want?” I asked my wife.
“I can’t see the menu,,” was the reply.
I could have told you that this was going to be the answer. It is always the answer. And as usual, I began thinking to myself, “How can she not know what’s on the McDonalds menu by now? Every American can quote the McDonalds menu by heart even if you don’t even eat there, some can even quote prices as well. The McDonalds menu is as old as time, penned by our forefathers shortly after the completion of The Declaration of Independence.”
But I keep these thoughts to myself, because I have learned that to verbalize them only creates an episode and prolongs the decision making process. I instead turn to my darling children and ask the same question. The answer came at me from two mouths simultaneously, making it impossible to determine who said what, but it sounded like this:
“I want a cheeseburger Happy Meal, I want a chicken nugget big kid meal, and the purple toy, with mustard sauce, no wait make it a blue toy, and root beer, but I don’t want the same toy as her, I think I want nuggets instead, and ketchup, but I already have that toy, can we go to the taco place?”
As I try to comprehend the rat’s nest of words that had just come from the back seat, I pull the car forward. It is now my turn at the speaker. My palms are sweating and I’m having trouble breathing, for I know what is about to happen.
“I’ll have the Quarter Pounder with cheese meal with a Coke and . . .”
I always say ‘and’ in a prolonged and exaggerated way, as an attempt to cue my wife to jump in with her order, but I am met only with silence as she studies the menu. I divert back to the kids, noticing that the little old lady behind me is beginning to look a little impatient.
“I also need two Happy Meals, one cheeseburger and one chicken nugget, with blue and purple toys.”
“NO, I want a red toy.”
“What to drink with those, sir?”
“Lemonades and make it a red toy.”
“I want a cheeseburger instead”
“I’m sorry, sir, we are all out of red toys.”
“Mustard sauce, dad, and I don’t like lemonade.”
“Make the nugget a cheeseburger and change the lemonade to a Coke and the red toy to a green toy.”
“I want curly fries, dad.”
“They don’t have curly fries here, Natalie.”
“What was that, sir?”
“I was just telling my kid that you don’t have curly fries here.”
.” . . . We don’t have curly fries here, sir.”
“I know that, you idiot!”
.” . . Your total comes to . . .”
“WAIT! I’m not done,,” I say, turning to my wife. The little old lady behind me is now honking every ten seconds or so and my right eye has begun to twitch a bit.
“Well? . . . . .” I ask, as my voice raises a notch in intensity.
“What did I get last time?” she asked in a tone that would suggest that she was in no hurry.
“I don’t know; does it matter?”
“Can I get the Garden salad with chicken on it?”
“Can she get the Garden salad with chicken on it?”
“Yes, but we will have to charge you more,,” answered the voice on the speaker.
“Ask if I can trade the tomato for the chicken?”
“Can we trade the tomato for the chicken?”
“We’ll still have to charge extra.”
“Well then I don’t want the garden salad, tell her I need another minute.”
The little old lady behind me has gotten the whole drive through line honking and has begun throwing what appears to be Rolaids at the back of my car as, two more minutes of menu studying pass.
“Just get me a Big Mack meal and a diet.”
“Uh, I guess we’ll have the Big Mack meal with a diet and that’s it.”
Silence is coming from the speaker.
More silence is coming from the speaker.
“I’m sorry sir, but can you repeat your order?”
WHAT? REPEAT MY ORDER? I don’t think that’s possible! Sobbing, I look up to the heavens and plead, “Lord! Spare me this shame and take me now!”
I looked at my family. Their mouths were moving as they attempted to repeat their orders to me, but I couldn’t hear any words, just the sound of my labored breathing and my heart beating like a drum. The little old lady behind me was getting out of her car and walking towards me. What if she has a gun in her purse?
The speaker box was getting louder and louder, “SIR? DID YOU HEAR ME? COULD YOU REPEAT YOUR ORDER? . . . SIR? . . . SIR?”
I turned to my wife and pitifully stated, “I . . . I can’t do this.”
With smoke rolling off of the tires, I peeled out of the drive through line, bounced over the curb, across the lawn and back onto the street.
Once home I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all despite the wailing protests and an unrelenting dirty looks from my wife. A new rule was also proclaimed as we all enjoyed our sandwiches, and that is that NO fast food trips will be made until ALL car occupants have decided and written down their orders.