For millions of Americans, those Golden Arches beckon one and all, every day right about noon time. Menus on billboards proudly display pictures of Super Big This with oversized bags of That for all to see and desire. (Could heroin be any more addictive I wonder)? Endless lines of cars passing through endless drive-thru’s. Cars of every type with millions of out-of-condition, glutinous individuals (like me), safely and tightly ensconced within. Cars carrying men and women who are apparently more than eager to commit this form of dietary suicide on any given day.
It’s twelve noon as I pull up to the McDonald’s ordering grill thingy. It’s just below a large billboard that is cluttered with an enormous selection of food. From the time you are in visual range of the board to the time the speaker asks for your order is a matter of short seconds. My hands trembles slightly on the steering wheel. A metallic (yet authoritarian) voice greets my ears. “Thank you for stopping at McDonald’s! What would you like to order?”
“Yes! I think I’ll have the Big Mac and Fries Meal deal.” (My panic standby order for when I don’t have enough time to select something else). This selection flashes on the electronic board to my right. Dollar amounts appear to the right of each item.
“Thank you! And, what would you like to drink?”
“I’ll have a Diet Coke, thanks!” I’m now getting distracted as I try to pull my wallet out of my back pocket with little success. My seat, which years ago, provided ample room now seems somehow tight and cramped. A light sweat begins to form on my brow…
“That will be $6.01 sir”, drifts a female voice from out of the metal grill. “Would you like to
die a little more quickly and Super Size that order today sir?” As I listened through the window of my car, I could swear I heard a very light, high pitched snickering in the background. (Perhaps it was just my hearing playing tricks on me).
“Uh no…I’m… on a diet,” I say in my most pious of voices. More snickering (static?) comes from the grill. I’m now fumbling in my pants pocket for some change. My wallet which I had wrestled from my rear pocket is now also now wedged in my lap. I manage to pull out a handful of coins, some of which fly off into the far seat. Damn!
“OK, sir, we have a Big Mac, a large fry and a Diet (snicker) coke. Will that be all today?”
“Uh, yeah.” I mumble as I try furiously to locate a penny in my fistful of silver coins. Ah! I sigh, as I spot one lone penny. I deftly pluck it out of the pile, toss the other coins into the neighboring seat, and add it to a ten dollar bill I had fished from my wallet. I find myself clutching this money like it might somehow bring me salvation.
“Please drive forward to the payment window.” I look up and find my way obstructed. What!!
I want to go forward, but three cars block my way! Damn them! There we sit, each of us waiting in line to pay, not unlike a junkie with a handful of crumpled bills who cautiously approaches a dealer for his noontime fix. Finally! After what seems hours (but may have been only minutes), the payment is made! I toss the four singles into the seat next to me along with the wallet! What a mess! Just a few more agonizing minutes as my fingers impatiently strum the top of the steering wheel while waiting for that last damn car in front of me to exit the delivery window.
Ah crap, I think as I watch the meal deal going down in front of me! They must have ordered for something like twenty people! Look at all that crap they’re getting! My stomach rumbles in rebellion at the thought of a delay. The sweat on my brow now forms tiny rivets down my nose. I wipe them unconsciously away with a swipe of my hand.
After what seems an eternity, the car in front pulls away from window. I put my car in gear and eagerly pull up. As I come up even with the window a girl of perhaps twenty is standing there like she’s waiting for a bus. Her eyes travel first to me and then to the far seat where money is scattered all over creation. A slight smile forms on her mouth. Yes, she’s seen this before. Often actually. She glances at a computer screen to her right. “I’m sorry sure but there’s going to be a wait for your Big Mac. That lady in front of you cleaned us out. Would you mind pulling over to a stall and we’ll have someone bring your order out to you?”
What! I can’t believe this! But, like a good robot, I do as instructed. I pull over to an open slot and then watch that window through my rear view mirror. I can also make out a side door that hopefully will open soon and bring me
my fix, my meal. Times passes oh so slowly.
At last the door opens and out comes a boy with my order! All is forgiven! I grasp my white bag and carefully place it on top of my wallet in the seat next to me. The coke stays in my hand as I drive the short distance back to my job. I’d have to eat fast and it would also have to be at my desk as my lunch period was almost over. What should have taken ten minutes had taken twenty-five of my thirty minute lunch break!
Hurriedly, I exit my car leaving the wallet and change lying on the seat. No time to waste as my hot meal is getting colder by the second. Now, at my desk I open the bag to find… ah yes, an Egg McMuffin with no fries. Sighing, I take a sip of my coke and prepare to eat.