McDonald’s: The Drive-Thru to Nowhere

There are two things in this world that I despise: lines and stupidity. And lima beans. Okay, there are three things in this world that I despise but I’ll stick with the first two for now: lines and stupidity. The place where these two things converge is considered by many to be the portal to hell, but to others it is known simply as the McDonald’s drive-thru.

Luckily I’m not a person who blames McDonald’s for all the ills in the world. People are fat—it’s McDonald’s fault! The country is in a state of moral decay—it’s McDonald’s fault! I was late to pick up my daughter from school last Tuesday!—it’s McDonald’s fault! Well, that last one is technically McDonald’s fault because I was stuck in the drive-thru waiting for a completely nutrition-less yet ironically life-sustaining Diet Coke.

Yes, I visit the McDonald’s drive-thru more than any person probably should. Yes, my daughter enjoys the more-than-occasional hamburger with pickle only and extra french fries. Yes, I’m weak and they have one dollar large Diet Cokes. Just one dollar and I don’t even have to get out of my car. Trust me, I appreciate the brilliance behind that idea.

One of the most annoying occurrences in the McDonald’s drive-thru lane is when the little mystery voice in the speaker interrupts me mid-order. I have my McDonald’s order down to a science; it is only slightly complex but it never varies. Ever. Don’t stop me after I say “Happy meal” to ask what drink I want; I know what comes next and I will tell you in due course. But I can’t just rattle off my food needs all willy-nilly. I need things to happen in a logical sequence. In other words, my way.

But my real problem isn’t with McDonald’s at all. What makes my hatred of lines and stupidity even worse is my complete and utter lack of patience. I really have none. I think fast, I drive fast, I want things done fast. All of these things are nonexistent in the McDonald’s drive-thru. The real problem is the people in the drive-thru who seem to become desperately confused and disoriented at the sight of the menu and the ordering speaker. I think it’s time we established a few ground rules to follow when using the drive-thru lane: 1) if your order requires that you stick your head out of the window, you should park and go in; 2) if your order requires the use hand gestures, you should park and go in; 3) if your order requires the asking of more than one question, you should park and go in; 4) if you find it difficult to decide whether or not to upsize your meal, you should go park and go in (come one, who doesn’t want more fries?). I think these guidelines could really clear up a lot of the congestion found in the McDonald’s drive-thru.

One thing is certain though: the executives at McDonald’s are visionaries and they obviously still have faith in the intelligence of humanity. The proof of their optimism in human kind: the dual drive-thru lane. This is a complex system in which people can order in one of two lanes then merge into one lane to pay. The problem is: the general public can’t handle the responsibility of the dual drive-thru lane. Usually people are scared of the second lane and everyone just ends up waiting in one lane until that brave pioneer steers around everyone and pulls into the other lane. Don’t fear the second lane—it’s there so that we may all obtain our cheeseburgers in a timely manner. Then there’s the problem of knowing when to merge (a skill most people don’t possess as witnessed on any freeway on-ramp). People panic and start directing the other cars in front of them, not knowing that they are setting off a chain reaction of badness up at the window. Now the guy in the Prius just got your Big Mac and the woman in the Expedition is drinking your chocolate shake. Disorder and chaos in the drive-thru; it’s the first sign of the apocalypse.

Maybe next time I’ll go to Taco Bell.

Daddy & Daughter

My husband and my daughter have created a game: he holds her hands and she jumps as high as she can while he propels her up even higher, then she swings her legs up and over and ends up doing a complete flip, sticking the landing with a huge thud. I call this game “Give Mommy a Heart Attack,” they just call it fun.

When my husband and I first found out we were having a little girl, my husband was beyond thrilled but he was also a bit panicked.

“I don’t know what girls play; I don’t know anything about girls.” He was so worried.

“Girls are just like boys, minus the innate knowledge of how to make machine gun noises with their mouths which boys always seem to have,” I reassured him.

On the day our daughter was born, all my husband’s fears completely disappeared. She was his girl from day one and he has always known how to hold her and comfort her and even how to play with her, despite all his previous fears.

Now those two are thick as thieves. She is the very image of her father: brown hair that turns slightly reddish in the summer, big brown eyes that seem to be an extension of their smiles, and best of all, she has her father’s adventurous spirit and never-say-quit attitude.

The other day the two of them were outside playing in the snow and I stopped by the window to watch them.They were making a snow fort: my husband shoveling snow into a pile and my daughter already making snow balls for their impending snow battle. They worked together so easily and so happily. I turned to grab my boots and join them, but then I decided no. They need times like this, just the two of them, playing and conspiring and laughing, just daddy and daughter.

I kept watching them though and thinking how important this father/daughter relationship is. My daughter and I spend a lot of time together and have lots of fun, but it’s different. I worry and tell her to be careful and get scared when she climbs too high. My husband tells her to climb higher while never leaving her side and cheering like a madman when she reaches the top. She learns to take risks with him and as much as that scares me, I know how important it is for her to learn.

My husband plans “dates” for the two of them every so often. Sometimes they go bowling and out to lunch, sometimes it’s dinner and a movie. She always wants to dress up in her fanciest dress and she insists that he wear a bow tie and a jacket. He never even falters. He has worn a bow tie and a jacket out to Red Lobster before and loved every minute of it. My daughter just thinks these are special fun times with Daddy, but I know better. He’s teaching her how a man treats a woman and what respect looks like.

My daughter has also learned trust from her father. When she was learning to ride her bike, she was petrified. She made Daddy promise not to let go of her. And he didn’t. He ran up and down our street fifty times, keeping pace with her pedaling, the grin on his face just as big as hers. But he also knows when to give her a push and let her go on her own; like the time she first sledded down our hill by herself. I had been trying to get her to sled by herself but she wouldn’t do it. After a day with Daddy, she ran into the house and yelled excitedly, “Mommy, I went down the hill all by myself!” I quickly asked my husband how he finally got her to do it and he smiled slyly and said, “I just gave her a quick push instead of getting in the sled with her.” He knew exactly how to get her down that hill and her trust in her daddy is so strong she knows nothing bad can ever happen to her when he’s there.

Yes, sometimes my husband and daughter get a little wild and a bit too loud and their acrobatic antics scare the heck out of me, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.


Prisoner of Christmas Vacation

Ah, Christmastime. A time of peace on earth, goodwill toward men, and figgy pudding (whatever figgy pudding might be). This is the time of year children covet, not just for the toys that Santa crams down the chimney, but for the glorious two-week vacation from school that accompanies all the merriment.

I, too, got swept up in the excitement of my daughter’s two-week respite from school. As the last day of school approached, I thought, How fun! We will sleep-in and frolic as a family for two whole weeks!  I was so excited that I decided to keep a journal to forever remember our family Christmas.

December 21: First day of Christmas vacation! My daughter woke up a little earlier than I expected, but that’s okay—she must be as excited as I am to get the fun started! Today we are going to make candy!

December 22: Candy making was a success! And by “success” I mean my pants no longer fit comfortably. Oh well, calories don’t count at Christmastime anyway and I have plenty of yoga pants with extra stretch in them. Today I have invited my daughter’s best friend over so the two of them can play and decorate cookies together!

December 23: I’m still picking sprinkles off the dog after yesterday’s cookie decorating. And I just noticed there is frosting on my chandelier. Oh, but listening to the two of them talk about Santa was priceless! 

December 24: I can’t believe it—Christmas Eve! I have planned a meal the likes of which have never been seen before! Mostly new recipes, but I love cooking for my family. I also have a ton of wrapping to do tonight, but I love wrapping as much as I love cooking. My stomach is feeling a bit queasy but I’m sure it’s nothing, just all the excitement of the holiday!

December 25: The best thing I can say about yesterday’s dinner is that it was edible. At least that’s what my husband told me. The cooking is kind of a blur because I spiked a fever. I don’t know, something had nutmeg in it and there might have been a potato dish. I spent the evening with my head in the toilet. One thing is for sure: no one holds mommy’s hair when she’s down for the count. Nope, I just kept vomiting while cursing my fate. At one point, a tomato got lodged in my nose so I made a solemn vow to try and chew better in the new year.  My husband had to take over and do all the wrapping, which means the presents looked like a crumbled pile of yuletide rubble but when you’re in my condition you just have to accept it. Or complain nonstop, which I did.

December 26 – 28: Fever, chills, vomit, repeat. If I don’t find the strength to crawl out of bed and take a shower, surely my home will be condemned.

December 29: I feel well enough to venture into the living room and see the damage my husband and daughter have done while I convalesced. Oh sweet mother of pearl. I’m going to need a shovel to clean this place. Maybe we will just move. Oh, look at that pile of dishes in the sink. Yeah, we will just move.

Dec. 30: I have recovered, the house is clean, and my mommy guilt has taken a firm hold of me. I wanted to do so many things with my daughter and then I got sick and was out of commission for so long. Well, I’m making up for lost time now—today is craft day! 

Dec. 31: Craft day fizzled out after about twenty minutes. We set out to build a castle, but what we ended up with is a pile of popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners that slightly resemble the large intestine. I have also been thinking about my New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur, so I’m keeping them simple this year. My goals are: to gain weight (already started that), accrue more debt (started that one too), and swear more (this one won’t be a problem either because the longer Christmas vacation goes on, the more patience I lose; the swearing will be inevitable—a real win/win situation).

Jan. 1: Happy New Year! New beginnings and new adventures await! Oh, who the hell am I kidding? It’s just Wednesday.

Jan. 2: I have been playing my daughter’s favorite pretend game, known simply as “Bear Family.” This game entails me being the voice of fifteen stuffed bears and their assorted “cousins” from the animal kingdom. I’m pretty good at improv but my daughter keeps yelling, “Cut!” and redirecting me. I can’t work under these conditions. 

Jan. 3 – 4: I have been the voice of all the stuffed bears for so long now that I fear my sanity may have suffered a severe blow. I attempted to use the bathroom by myself today but was headed off by my daughter and the dog. I should have known better.

Jan. 5: I made it. School starts tomorrow. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Wait, I also see snow…

Jan. 6: School was cancelled because of snow. I can’t be the voice for any more bears. I can’t. I must escape. But where? In a bold move, I make a break for the bathroom, grabbing a book as I lunge for the door and lock it. Great, it’s a medical textbook. I grab the shampoo bottle and read it instead. If school is cancelled tomorrow, I swear I’m going to drop my daughter off at the superintendent’s house for the day.

Jan. 7: School today! I can’t stop smiling. Today I get my sanity back. I took my daughter to school then came home. I walked passed her room and saw all the stuffed teddy bears on her bed. I choked back a sob and thought, ‘I miss my baby. When is spring break?’