About Me

I feel the wanderlust and the call of the open highway. Which is good, because I drive cars for a living. But I'm a writer, and someday hope to once again make my living using my writing skills.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I got an email from my wild and woolly friend JC the other day. She was driving from her farm in upstate New York down to her mansion in Florida. And it seems she had a run-in with one of "Bill's people", the odd creatures that cross my path on a daily basis as I travel throughout the USA. Many times I wonder if people who read about my adventures ask themselves if I truly meet all these strange and wonderful folks. So it is nice and refreshing to hear about someone else having an encounter. The email from JC is below:
Hey Bill--

I wanted to share something that happened on our way home from NY. Obviously, it made me think of the situations into which you find yourself on a regular basis.

I stopped at a McDonald's in North Carolina for lunch. My traveling buddy Abby and I go inside to order because we want to use the lady's room. I walk up to the register of a late 50-year-old woman, rather attractive and slightly built with very light gray hair. I remember thinking, "I'm not sure I'd like to work at Mickey D's in my golden years." And then immediately wondering if "twilight years" was what I was looking for. Oh well ...

I order a $1 McDouble, large fries and a large vanilla shake to go. (Don't believe me when I act surprised that my ass has grown so much that I feel the need to rush home and get on the treadmill.) She grumbles something I again don't understand, and I say, "Excuse me?"

"Oh, nothing. Six dollars and thirteen cents."

I hand her a $10 bill and three pennies. She takes the money and grumbles something again.

"Excuse me?" I say.

"Never mind. They're filling me with fat, you know."

"They're filling you with fat? Who is?"

"Yes. They're filling me with fat. Fat! It's disgusting." She takes a tray, places it on the counter, tosses the receipt she's just pulled from the register atop the paper liner and turns to grab a McDouble.

"Well," I say, "you look great. You're certainly not fat." Holding out my receipt, I say, "I need some change. I gave you a ten and some pennies."

"Oh!" she says, squinting at the receipt. She speaks McDonaldese to the manager, who opens the register so she can correct her mistake.

"You look great," I tell her. "Really. You're not fat at all."

Handing me a five and a one-dollar bill, she slams the register drawer closed. "I'm not in the Army, you know!"

Not being smart enough to quickly figure out that if I walked away right then with the $6, I'd have saved $2 on my Twilight Meal (my old-women's version of the Happy Meal). So I hold out the bills and say, "What? Did you say you're not in the Army? This change isn't right."

"Huh?" she says, bewildered, taking the receipt from my hand and glaring at it, the bottom line of which clearly reads, Change: $3.90. "No, I'm not in the Army. I'm a slight woman!"

Exactly what I thought!

She can't remember what change she's supposed to give me but apparently she remembers the keys to press to open the register drawer, and she enters them successfully. The register drawer slides open into her rather taught abdomen and she puts away the five and pulls out two more one-dollar bills. Handing me three one-dollar bills, she grumbles, "I'm so mad right now, I can't even think." Slam! There goes the register drawer. Again. She walks away to stuff my fries in a box.

I'm bewildered. First no change. Then a five and a one. Now three ones. I've heard of a movement to round down one- and two-penny change and round up three- and four-penny change, but did I miss the memo on rounding down ninety-cents? Is this woman serious? Then she returns and places the fries alongside my McDouble on the tray (which I'm pretty certain isn't McDonald's new take-out container). "Uh, this still isn't right." I hold out the receipt and three ones.

"They're making me have huge muscles. I'm not in Boot Camp. I'm a lady! I don't want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger." She reads the receipt again, and says, "Three dollars and ninety cents." Snatching the ones from my extended hand and spreading them to count, she asks, more to herself than to me, "How much did I give you?"

"Three dollars. I need ninety more cents. What do you mean they're making you have muscles? Who's making you have muscles? McDonald's?"

"Yes," she hisses, surreptitiously jerking her thumb over the head of a co-worker and toward the fry cook. "Those people. Those people back there." Looking disgusted, she opens the register for the fourth time since I placed my order, takes out ninety cents and places it in my outstretched hand. All the while I'm thinking, "Please don't let me end up like her."

She walks to the shake-maker and after pouring my shake (which appears to be the first successful act she's performed since she attempted to fill my order), grabs a can of whipped cream. "No," I cry. "No whipped cream." I didn't even know McDonald's put whipped cream on their shakes. From the corner of my mouth, I say to Abby, who is now standing next to me with her to go-order in hand, "You've got to listen to this women. I think she has Turrets."

Returning with my shake and placing it alongside my McDouble and fries, still on the eat-in tray, she purses her lips, shakes her head and says, "I'm not going to put up with it. Getting pumped full of fat all the time."

Putting the coins in my purse, I thought that if anyone working at McDonald's has that strong a feeling about fat, they might want to consider a career change. I say with more than a little hesitation, "Well, I still think you look great ... not fat at all! I agree! You're slight! And a lady! But can you please put this stuff in a bag?"

Bill, I can imagine that this is what you have to put up with every day. I feel for you. This experience made your travels and your Blog stories very real to me. I don't know how you cope with it, I can only say that you're a better man than me. Come see me soon, we'll get crazy.

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