So This Just Happened

So, um, yeah, this is ehero_diet_cokembarrassing or sad or embarrassingly sad, but I think my emergency contact should be the drive-thru employees at my local McDonald’s. Apparently, these people really know me.

It doesn’t hurt that I’m a creature of habit. Every morning Monday thru Friday between 7:40 and 7:50 I’m at the drive-thru getting my Diet Coke. I love a McDonald’s Diet Coke like the rest of you love a Starbucks venti-grande-trenta-frappy-soy something or other.

Sure, just like you could make coffee at home, I know I could drink a canned Diet Coke (shudder), but I’m telling you there is something about the carbonation/syrup ratio and the amount of ice in the cup that makes a Mickey D’s Diet Coke the best there is.

The realization that the McDonald’s employees had become part of my posse was when I returned from being out-of-town and multiple workers expressed concern about where I had been. I was touched and then chagrined.

The denouement was when one employee, a lovely young woman who runs that drive-thru with the demeanor of a general invading foreign soil and is always a whirling dervish of multi-tasking, shared, “Since we hadn’t seen you in a while we were talking about if we should ask one of the cops that come through here to do a welfare check on you.”

Oh. My. God.

These were the thoughts swirling through my head like waves of storm churned angst. Had my life really come to this – McDonald’s employees thinking I needed a home visit from law enforcement? Do I look so old that they thought I did a slip and fall in my home and my corpse was slowly moldering away in the foyer on the world’s ickest ceramic tile that needs updating, but who has time to chisel out those monster 24 x 24 tiles of 80’s bad taste.

And back to old. How old do I look? Sure, I look pretty crappy in the morning. I’ve just dropped my daughter off at school and I admit I look rough, most days I still have pillow marks on my face. But, some part of me still thinks I can pull off the no makeup look with non-brushed hair in a ponytail. It’s the morning – I’m going back home to groom. That’s what the Diet Coke is for. It’s grooming caffeine.

And back to old again. Do I seem frail? I’m not frail. I’m going to Pilates, dang it. Do they want to see a plank? I’ll do a plank right now. Yeah, I’m going to get out of my car and do a plank which my daughter, the competitive dancer who knows a thing or two about planks, just the other day called, “surprisingly not awful.”

It took a while for me to recover from the phrase “welfare check.” But the more I thought about it I decided to be delighted that the employees notice me. Thinking back they’ve noticed when I’ve gotten my haircut (when exactly zero of my family members did) and they comment on my son being home from college whenever I add on a Diet Dr. Pepper to my morning order.

So, here’s a shout out to the drive-thru employees at McDonald’s – thanks for caring and handing me my morning Diet Coke with a smile.

Schooled at McDonald’s

Recently, I was listening to a bScreen Shot 2016-02-18 at 9.16.10 AMestseller author explain the four personality niches that people fall into when it comes to accomplishing tasks. As the rest of the audience, I’m sure, was thinking about how to use this information to transform their lives, I was sitting there having a holy crap moment because this whole breaking down behaviors into four distinct categories is just what I needed to navigate one of the most stressful parts of my morning – getting my Diet Coke via the McDonald’s drive thru.

I know I’ve written about this before, but trust me it needs to be bellowed from the top of whatever the heck is being built at the local fancy pants collection of shops by my house that looks like a maximum security prison (Or dear God no, not another furniture store where a sofa costs more than a fully loaded Kia.) that if you can’t grasp the concept of two lanes merging into one at the drive thru perhaps it’s a sign from the Almighty that you don’t need to be behind the wheel of a car.

Pitifully for the human race in regards to mental acuity the lane switcheroo  isn’t the single issue messing up my McDonald’s experience. It goes way beyond merging awareness skills. In fact, I will now use the knowledge still lounging in the core of my brain from college freshman psychology 101 (Full disclosure I got a C in the class. It was right after lunch in a very large lecture hall and the professor always dimmed the lights. It was like he was asking us to take a nap. So I did.) and combine that with what I learned about personality subsets and groupings from the very smart author and formulate the four personality types that plague the drive thru. My hope is that armed with this knowledge I will be better equipped to manage my expectations and thus my sanity in regards to Diet Coke retrieval.

The Overly Polite – This drive thru participant is plagued with an over abundance of good manners. I’m sure they still remember the etiquette rules from their Cotillion classes and always carry three handkerchiefs – one for blow, one for show and one to offer a friend in need. Unfortunately the O.P. personality is prone to sitting at the drive thru order intercom and waiting patiently until the McDonald employee speaks to them. This is so wrong.

If you haven’t heard from an employee after 30 seconds of sitting at the intercom you need to immediately offer up a friendly “Yoo-hoo”  If that doesn’t work you then follow-up with a less congenial Hello and if you’re still getting zero verbal communication you go for the “Excuse me but I’d like to place my order.” If it’s wrong to roll down your window and politely “you hoo” at an OP that they might want to holler into the intercom demanding service than I don’t want to be right.

The Undecided– Unless you’re a new arrival to this great country of ours and are a virgin to all things fast food related than it shouldn’t take you more than ten seconds to place your order. Yet almost every morning I see folks pondering over what to get for breakfast. Let me help you out. Get coffee, a Diet Coke or a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. Anything else is not worth the caloric intake. Trust me. I don’t know a lot, but I know this.

The Preschool Drop Out – This personality type must have flunked out of preschool because they never learned the basic tenant of any age five and under educational curriculum – taking turns. As the two drive thru lanes become one all the drivers must summon their inner four-year old and wait for the car in the next lane to merge and then they can have their turn. The Drop Out just ignorantly cuts in line. I’m telling you McDonald’s needs a time-out lane.

The VIP – This “charmer” tries to place special, off menu, orders at the drive thru and by that I mean asking for an “open faced Egg McMuffin” Please, the only reason someone should ever request this is if they’re lacking opposable thumbs and don’t have the digits necessary to peel the top off their own breakfast sandwich. The VIP when not requesting specialized menu items is also the champion of the line cut. Note to all Mickey D’s VIP’s. You’re trapped in line at a restaurant with a dollar menu. This means your swagger has been neutered.

Now if only McDonald’s would laminate this and post it at all their drive thrus. Talk about a public service.

Drive Thru I.Q.

Picture 5-1Talk all you want about how quality schools are the sign of a good neighborhood I’ve got a better judge of a town’s character – it’s drive thru lane etiquette, specifically at McDonalds. You will find me there almost every morning at 7:48 getting a large Diet Coke. I’m not a Starbucks girl mainly because I don’t believe in hot beverages and walking into any Starbucks within a one mile radius of a private school, pilates studio or PTA meeting brings back post traumatic stress memories of going through sorority rush. The swarm of women with their calculated casual wardrobes, the mock manners accessorized with smug smiles all while ordering various combinations of caffeine freak me out a little bit. One time when I was meeting someone and they were late I entertained myself by playing Starbucks Bingo – Yoga Pant Edition. The center square was a sugar-free, skim milk steamed, soy latte with Splenda foam. But as entertaining as people watching at a Starbucks is it won’t reveal the true personality of a neighborhood. For that you must experience the fast food drive thru that has two ordering lanes that then merge to one. The merging is crucial for evaluating two things: the intelligence of your neighbors and the everyday politeness factor. I call this the Drive Thru I.Q.

I’m pleased to report that my McDonalds has a high Drive Thru I.Q. until last week. That’s when I experienced a drive thru bully disguised as a mom in a minivan.

There I was going through my normal morning routine when I noticed the car in front of me was not merging. It was straddling the two lanes. Oh, I knew what the minivan was doing. They were playing drive thru roulette in an attempt to hedge their bets on which lane would be moving faster. This is not done at my McDonalds. People do not do anything as crass as a lane straddle. They, oh so politely, follow protocol moving up as soon as the next space is available in an effort to keep the lines in a smooth synchronized pattern. Once the minivan had finally selected a lane, the driver apparently not getting her order taken fast enough at the menu area, honked her horn – three times. And not a quick honk, honk, honk but she really laid on her horn to such an extent I couldn’t hear my NPR. I admit this rattled me a bit and might have led to what happened next. I did something I almost never do and got myself a 460 calories and counting bacon, egg and cheese biscuit.

After I ordered, I executed a flawless, merge maneuver and gracefully had my car back into one lane, while my mind drifted to how good that biscuit was going to taste. Just as I was thinking about the buttery goodness of it all, I was jolted back to reality by someone banging on my car. It was the minivan lady and she was ticked. I rolled down my window and she pointed her finger at me while yelling that I had cut in front of her. Which I had most certainly not done, thank you very much. I was in Lane 1 and had, by not laying on my horn, placed my order before she did in Lane 2, hence I merge first.

My initial reaction was to visually check her for a weapon and my second was to wimp out or as I call it let good manners take over and say, “Oh so sorry.” This did not appease the drive thru bully. She wanted me to pull out of the line altogether so she could get in front of me. And that’s where she made her mistake. No one gets between me and my Diet Coke. I told her that wasn’t going to happen and to “get over herself.” Mistake. She flipped me the bird, got back in her car and then rode my bumper the rest of the way through the drive thru. I was so scared she was going to follow me and I don’t know pistol whip me with her Sausage McGriddle Value Meal that I drove to the extremely close police department and sat in their parking lot eating my biscuit until I thought the coast was clear. Oh, and just so you know the minivan had a “Kindness Matters” bumper sticker. Sigh.