Monday, July 23, 2007

McDonalds - "I'm Lovin' It"

I probably stop at McDonalds less than once a year, but my 2007 visit was the most entertaining ever. I witnessed one of the best bruhahas in fast food history today at a local Myrtle Beach McDonalds. It was lunchtime and there were probably 25 cars in the drive-thru. I was several cars back, with a bird's eye view, when the chain of events began. The driver of a car paid for his/her order and then pulled out of the line prior to advancing to the pick-up window. It could have been an emergency exit or just a shenanigan. If it was a prank, it was the best $5.00 investment ever.

Every subsequent car got the order intended for the car in front of him/her. Since it was so busy, no one checked their order at the window, except me. I might not have noticed except what should have been handed me in a small bag was delivered to me in increments. I tried, to no avail, to stop the employee, who wore a "trainee" badge, from handing out the order. I think there are only two positions at McDonalds, trainee and manager. I informed the drive-thru trainee that my order was indeed wrong. She, of course, argued against the probability of an error in my order. Perhaps her 100% accuracy status was in jeopary. I am convinced the extent of her "training" program was "take the next bag you see and hand it out the window to the next vehicle that drives up". No one prepared her for the possibility of getting out of sequence. This eventuality is probably not covered in the Hamburger University syllabi.

By then, several angry and confused patrons had pulled around and gone into the store with their random and sometimes disappointing orders. They could not drive back through, as it would have taken twenty minutes to make it back to the window in the traffic.

I had ordered a grilled chicken sandwich combo and received a huge order including Big Macs, Happy Meals, fries, several drinks and a hot apple pies. Since I obviously had their order, I am positive the huge family in front of me was not HAPPY with their MEAL whatsoever. In all probability it was sadly lacking. And I know that the construction crew of illegals in the club cab behind me was not going to be satisfied with my grilled chicken sandwich combo. They would NOT be "lovin' it".

The pressure of the situation resulted in a screaming fit and near catfight between the aforementioned trainee, the on-duty manager, and several other customers and employees. I am certain at least a dozen orders were screwed up, to say nothing of the delay as they reconfigured the bogus orders. I am sure they received some phone complaints from those that didn't discover their sweet tea was actually a diet coke until they had driven off. Had I just continued driving with my cornucopia of Mcfood, there is no telling how long this "guess what's in the bag" game would have continued.

It would be well worth the price of purchase to perform that maneuver and pull over to watch the fun.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wicked - Sunday Scribblings 7/22/07

I don’t know that I have ever used the word “wicked” in a sentence unless I was describing a character from the Wizard of Oz to someone who had never seen it. But that has probably never happened since I rarely converse with anyone from outside our galaxy.

The first thing that came to mind when I read the prompt was a film I saw in the early 80’s based on a great Ray Bradbury novel, “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” It was not nearly as good as the book, but movies seldom are. It was interesting enough to hold my attention and be wary of carnival people, which I still am.

If I were from Boston, I would have used the word thousands of times as in “that chowda was wicked good” or “that sunset was wicked pissah”. But sadly. I live in the Deep South and have had no reason to use the term “wicked.”

If I were a sportscaster I would have used it as in “strike three on a wicked splitter.” If I were a Boston sportscaster I could say, “that was a wicked good slider from Schilling, wicked pissah that it was hit for a home run.” (see, I hate the Red Sox. They are truly wicked.)

I googled the word “wicked” and the first hundred or so entries referred to a Broadway Musical about the “untold story of the Witches of Oz.” I could sit in the Orchestra for $110.00 a ticket. That is “wicked expensive” considering I have no interest in learning more about those witches and sitting that close there is always a chance of a house falling on me or getting strafed by a stray shingle. But I could sit in the Rear Mezzanine for $50.00 a seat. That sounds like a “wicked” good deal and appears much safer.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hair - Sunday Scribblings 7/15/07

As I grow older, I seem to be able cultivate florets of hair from the most unlikely places. I am a proponent of evolution. It makes more sense than any opposing viewpoint. I understand how nose and ear hair protects those organs from dust and other airborne particles, but what is the function of the ever-increasing fleece on my back? Come on Darwin!! Is the aging process gradually returning me to my Pithecanthropus roots? And why do my auditory and olfactory senses suddenly require more protection now than when I was thirty? And what is that three-inch wild hair that occasionally appears overnight on my earflap that is protecting nothing?

And my eyebrows. I don’t think they required much attention during most of my adulthood, but now, who am I, Leonid Brezhnev (young people google his image)? I go for a haircut and invariably, my stylist (they like to be called that) will ask, somewhat disgustedly, ”would you like me to trim your eyebrows?” Who would say no to that? “No thanks, I am trying to look as unappealing as possible, that’s why I am paying you $20.00 for a haircut.” Then she pulls out the industrial strength clippers and deposits more hair cuttings directly into my eyes than she removed from my noggin. It wouldn't be so bad if my eyebrows grew symmetrically, but there are always offshoots that are a good inch longer than the bush. I wish it were socially acceptable to request a nose and ear hair touch-up as well. A conscientious stylist will however, casually remove the aforementioned single, wild earflap hair. I am certain that I am referred to in the appointment book as the missing link.

I knew a man in Wyoming about my age, who had totally given up on controlling his nose hair plantation and allowed it to become one with his mustache. An attractive look, it was not. When talking to him, you could not help but be drawn to this unique feature. Very much like a conversation with someone with a huge, black mole on his face. And yes, sometimes an unplanned hair can be seen emanating from that pre-melanoma.

Thankfully, at an age when many men are combing-over what little hair they can produce, my Native American heritage has spared me pattern baldness. But suddenly, the rest of my body has more fur than a 1970’s porn shoot.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Slippery - Sunday Scribblings

As usual, I have responded to the prompt with the first thing that came to mind. It is the account of a personal experience that I have never forgotten:

I was living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where the dark months are an absolute horror. Growing up in snow country did little to prepare me for the hibernal hell that is wintertime in the high plains. I believe a Wyoming pioneer coined the term bitter cold. I often wondered how those hearty soles survived a winter there when I had all the modern comforts and still found myself miserable. There is an added dimension to a Wyoming winter. A constant 40-mile per hour wind polishes the foot deep ice to a perfect gloss. Then comes a fresh powder snow, which conceals the treacherous glacier. I am certain you know where I am going with this.

I was parallel parked on Lincoln, which is a major artery in the City of Cheyenne. This is important because of my later impossible attempt to conceal what had happened. I was unloading some merchandise to carry in to a shop that I did business with. My hands were full and I was probably carrying more weight than I was approved for. I took one careless step and suddenly instead of being vertical and perpendicular to the sidewalk, I suddenly became completely horizontal and parallel to it. I don’t mean that my feet went out from under me. No, my feet were at the same elevation as my head. I am certain that if there was an Olympic event in which that particular maneuver was judged, I would have been awarded a 9.5 (except maybe the Russian judge). I am not sure if I completed all the compulsory moves, but I definitely nailed the degree of difficulty, though my landing may have cost me some points. I landed flat on my back, with the packages still in my arms, undamaged. Luckily my spine and the back of my head broke my fall.

The most important thing for any man who falls, prior to accessing damages, is to play it off in the event that anyone happened to witness the performance. Well, that activity was a dismal failure, as not only had it been witnessed, but also both directions of traffic had come to a complete halt. There were people running to my aid. I am sure that some believed I had fallen from the sky, like Icarus. In spite of a possible broken back, concussion, bruised kidneys, and ruptured spleen, I managed to crawl out from under my vehicle (did I mention that I actually slid under my 4X4) and jump to my feet announcing my OKness (I love to make up words), as if this happened all the time. Though I couldn't breathe and I was seeing things only cartoon characters usually see, I managed to summon as much dignity as possible and get back in my vehicle, driving off before the paramedics arrived. I eventually recovered, with minor bruising, a massive headache, and some vertebrae in new positions, but I am certain that several years later citizens of Cheyenne still talk about the worst fall they ever saw.
This is another of the many reasons I love Myrtle Beach. The only way to slip on ice here is if someone spills a frozen daiquiri. If you do happen to fall down at Myrtle Beach you have at least a 75% chance of landing on sand or a golf course. Neither would cause a 911 dispatch.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Death - Midweek Post

I generally write on very innocuous topics that I can color with my sarcasm and irrelevance. As one of my few readers warned me, “it is hard to write with a smirk about a serious subject.” Not heeding that warning, I have elected to write about death, or at least my connection with it. Any humor detected is purely by accident and the result of me not being able to write any other way. This will also be my longest blog to date, insuring that no one will read it. I know I never read long ones. But the subject of death will cause me to ramble even more than usual.

I have been to eight funerals in my life. All deaths are tragic, but these are particularly horrid as the oldest was only 32 years old. When an elderly person dies you celebrate his life, but when a young person dies you mourn the lost potential.

My first real introduction to death was that weekend in Dallas in 1963, where, through my television, I witnessed JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald’s termination.

My first personal confrontation with death was the suicide murder of two boys by their father. They were neighborhood kids who I thought a nuisance, but whose mother thought enough of me to ask me to be a pallbearer. Evidently, they idolized me. Who knew? I don’t remember being particularly kind to them. Maybe I wasn’t and it was retaliation to make me bear the polls. I was not particularly close to the three classmates listed, but in a small town, a high schooler dying draws like a two for one sale. Everyone attends the memorial. They were important events in my life or I would not recall them so vividly.

All of the new millennium deaths listed were people much closer to me. And as an adult, I mourn for their parent’s loss and for my own. The world is not a better place without these young people and all could have been prevented. No parent should outlive his children. I cannot comprehend the agony their parents suffered and will always suffer. I spoke at two of the services. I felt I needed to. Though only one was a blood relative, I miss them all.

*Kevin & Joe Rush 8 and 9 years old – January 1967 Murdered by Father
Tom Brainard – 17 years old – December 1967 – Whirlpool Electrocution
Marilee Haddock – 16 Years Old - May 1968 Leukemia
Danny Deeder – 18 Years Old - April 1970 – Vehicle Accident?
Brandon Sova – 19 Years Old - August 2004 – Drunk Driver
Andrew Ott – 22 Years Old - October 2005 – Inhaling Dust-Off
**Kevin Thomas – 32 Years Old - December 2005 – Suspicious Circumstances
Jim Salter – 24 Years Old - April 2007 – Murdered

**My nephew, only relative on the list

You can see that I was able to pretty much avoid death for about 34 years or so. Well, that is not entirely true. All of my grandparents and both parents died during that span as well as untold relatives, but I attended no services. You would have to know my family to understand this shocking fact. I am not even sure when my grandparents passed. I just know that when we went to visit, they weren’t home. We lived in Idaho and they were all in Georgia and Florida (which you would know if you read my damned blogs). As you can guess, we were not a close family unit. I think I can remember instances where my folks would make a comment such as “hey Rick, your grandma died, pass the potatoes.” When my mother died I was stationed abroad in the Air Force and by the time the Red Cross notified me, she had already been cremated. It is not as bad as it sounds. I saw her a couple of months before her death and we had some closure. When dad died, I was present but at his request there was no service. He, too, was cremated and I carried their ashes with me for about 10 years before the deterioration of the containers forced me to find them a final resting place. I had wanted to scatter dad’s ashes inside Yankee Stadium (you would know he was a Yankee fan if you had read my damned blogs), but found out it was against about a million Bronx and Major League Baseball ordinances to do so. Evidently, they get hundreds of requests each year, so my idea was not original or doable. So, I found a beautiful spot in a place called Sinks Canyon, near Lander, Wyoming, where neither of them had ever been and had no connection to.

I spent 20 years in the military, so death was not totally foreign to me. I saw some things. But when it happens to a stranger you are not affected. Case in point. When I was in Junior High school we would often walk down to the city center for lunch. One of our favorite spots was a place called Dick and Floyd’s. It was a hellhole, often with passed out drunks from the night before littering the barstools, but they made a great milkshake. This was long before fake ice cream. When they still used the old ice-cold silver containers and gave you the extra when they filled your glass. You can see how disjointed my thinking is, when I can divert to milkshakes during a death blog. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. One day, we heard a loud explosion and we ran towards it (nowadays I would run away from it) to find that someone had self-tested his new shotgun in the alley next to the Coast to Coast store. We got there even before the crack Kellogg, Idaho police force. Grey matter was everywhere, body akimbo. We were mesmerized and by the time Barney Fife had dispersed us, we had witnessed enough for a lifetime of stories. But it did not spoil our lunch. On the contrary, the event gave us carte blanche to be tardy with no repercussions. We could be traumatized if we chose to. There were no bad dreams, night terrors, nor did I ever require therapy, but I had that in reserve should I have needed it.

I used to compute how many years I had left based on my current age vs live expectancy per actuarial tables. That activity would always result in depression and a panic attack. I am not nearly as afraid of death as I used to be. I am not sure why that is the case since I have not reached any viable conclusion on what happens after death. I think I have just come to terms with the inevitability of my demise. I recently had a serious cancer scare and faced with my mortality I think my greatest fear was not dying, but being forgotten. How is that for a narcissist view of death?