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.

Hope and Change

demotivation-posters-auto-344194Luckily, I don’t have a family that embarrasses easily.

It could be because after years of living with me they’ve built up a resistance to your everyday, garden-variety mortification. But one thing that makes all of them uncomfortable is when I pay for things with change.

“What’s wrong with change?” I ask them. “Is it not legal tender?”

Lately, I’ve been forced to use change more and more as a payment for goods purchased. Totally, not my fault, by the way. It seems the American financial system hates change.

Back in the day (two months ago), I used to periodically take all the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that collected in the kitchen “coin bowl” to one of those automated change-counting machines. And let me tell you something, nothing says living the dream like dumping two quart-sized Ziploc bags stuffed with change into the Coinstar at Walmart. I would hover in eager anticipation as the money “no one wants to use” was turned into dollars.

But then my happy coins to dollar bills metamorphosis was stymied when an almost 10 percent surcharge was levied for the privilege of counting my change. Ten percent! Talk about predatory banking practices. For sure, I get that the coin counting company has to charge something, but 10 percent is a just a little too rich for my blood. I decided to take a stand. I would no longer pay for having my change converted to dollars. I would start spending my dimes, nickels and loads and loads of pennies in an effort to share the joy of coinage.

At first, I sorted all my change into separate Ziplocs. You know, quarters in one, nickels in another, and I kept the bags in my car for easy access for paying for purchases at places like the drive-thru. This proved to be not such a great idea. Last month, I was at McDonald’s, with the windows rolled down, and loudly told my teenaged son, “Hey, grab one of those dime bags for me!”

The McDonald’s employee gave me a weird look and then said, “Ah, ma’am, we don’t do that here” and my son just about crawled out of the car. At first I didn’t get what the big deal was. Like, what’s up? I can’t pay for my Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper with change? Does McDonald’s, home of the Dollar Menu, think they’re too good for 21 dimes, one nickel and two pennies? It took my son explaining to me that a dime bag meant 10 dollars worth of pot.

“Ohhhhhh” was all I said and then I asked him how he would know that. His reply, backed up later by my husband, was that “anybody who’s ever watched a cop show in the last 50 years should know that.”

That incident made me rethink my whole paying in change plan. So, I went to the bank with my purse laden down with a single yet significant bag of coins (by this time I had graduated to the Ziploc gallon-sized freezer bag with reinforced sides) and requested that I wanted to deposit my big old bag of change into my account. A teller quickly told me no. As in “no, we won’t take your coins” and the way she said coins you would have thought I was asking to deposit soiled tokens from Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Unbelievable.

I was close to giving up on my “joy of change” spending plan but I’m no quitter. So, I persevered. My next move was to sort all my change into different bags according to dollar amounts so one bag would have $5 worth of coins, another $10, etc., making it easy to go into the grocery store and take out a bag with $5 worth of change to pay for a half gallon of skim milk. Well, well, well, apparently if you want to really irritate some snippy chick in yoga pants double-fisting a Starbucks and a coconut water, all you need to do is pull out a couple of bags of change. She was behind me in line and when I got my change bag out she audibly sighed and whisper-dissed me by murmuring I “must be crazy or homeless.”

I gave her a look that said, “I can you see your cellulite through your yoga pants,” and then, just because I could, I decided to go “full penny” on her. That’s right, I used pennies. I had planned to use quarters — because I’m not a monster — but the homeless remark really got to me. I had on my dress track pants from Kohl’s for God’s sake. (The crazy, not so much, because, you know, it’s not like I haven’t heard that before.)

As I ever so slowly counted out almost four dollars in pennies I learned something new about coins. They’re not only good for purchasing items, but you can also use them to punish annoying people behind you in line. I call that a financial two-fer.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

Summer Bites

2-summer-grilling-lgn

What is it with summer that brings out all the culinary kill joys?  The elitism associated with summer food is ridiculous. I love a good Farmers Market and heirloom tomato right along with everyone else. But, I’m exhausted by all the sound and fury that now goes into preparing dinner. Grocery shopping or dining out shouldn’t make you feel like an idiot.  People have asked me this summer if I’m a localvoire or if I’m embracing the slow foods movement.  Localvoire just sounds scary.  Like you’re a member of Hannibal Lecter’s supper club and I thought slow foods meant using the crock-pot.   The pretentiousness has even invaded that scared backyard experience known as grilling.  Pimping out your grill, I think, reached an apex this summer with introduction of the $35,000 Talos outdoor cooking suite.  I could remodel my entire kitchen for $35,000 and besides grilling is a pretty fundamental experience.  Put raw meat on top of fire.  Fire cooks meat. Eat meat.  Now, grills look like stainless steel edifices with searing stations and enough BTU’s to launch the Space Shuttle.  (Dare I say, the bigger the grill the smaller the you know.) Then there’s the grilling pizza stone, slider burger press, jalapeno pepper roaster, meatball grill basket (Really, meatballs on the grill?) and all those fancy rubs and “finishing” salts.  You know the cooking contest I want to see?  My father with his Weber charcoal grill, lean ground beef and pepper grinder versus a Cookout Czar with his massive grill and assorted accessories.  Winner – my dad.

Cupcakes: I’m also sick of the on going, I thought it would be over by now, cupcake craze. Let’s be honest about what a cupcake really is – a sneaky form of portion control. While you can cut yourself a gianormous piece of cake and call it one slice no such luck with a cupcake.  I figure to equal my one “self cut” or “custom” slice of cake I would have to eat at, the very least, a half-dozen cupcakes.  Hmm, what statement sounds like you are less in need of lap band surgery –  I enjoyed one slice of cake or I just inhaled six cupcakes?    In my neighborhood three cupcake bakeries have opened with a single chocolate cupcake going for almost $3.00.  That’s crazy. I can buy a box of Duncan Hines for 88 cents that makes two dozen cupcakes and I can lick the bowl. Advantage – Mr. Hines. Last night I found myself watching Cupcake Wars on the Food Network featuring salmon cupcake. Yeah, you read that right, fish cupcakes.  Aren’t fish cupcakes a direct violation of the bakery code of conduct?  I believe it’s item 419, sub section 3:  “Thou shalt not add meat, poultry or fish to a baked good that requires frosting.”

Cake Dudes:  The Cake Boss and all other cake guru’s are also starting to bother me.  First, those cakes “iced” with fondant are not exactly a taste sensation.  Buttercream, as any chunky girls knows, is the only frosting that really matters.  Fondant is made from sugar and gelatin.  Once again, people – it’s not frosting if it doesn’t contain butter. Plus, it seems like the cakes are baked way too far in advanced and then hermetically sealed with fondant?   We’re not talking just baked freshness here.  Also, have you noticed that they put the cakes in their vans without any kind of saran wrap or anything.  Think of the carpet fibers, insects, spewing saliva, and sneezes that must float around and land on the cakes.  One time, Duff, the Ace of Cakes guy, drove from Baltimore to the West coast with a wedding cake in the back of his van, totally, uncovered. Ick.  By the time it got there it probably had a whole assortment of gas station and roadside rest stop smells embedded in the fondant.  Tasty – maybe not.  Aromatic for all the wrong reasons – definitely.

 

McDonalds: Everyone needs to back off and leave McDonalds alone. Lawsuits aimed at McDonalds because we are a nation of fatties is just so wrong.  No one is forcing us to shove those yummy, greasy, salty french fries into our mouths.  It’s called free will and our free will wants to repeatedly experience frygasam.  I have a long, intense and complicated love affair with McDonalds. This summer it really heated up when I began emotional cheating on my husband.  My affections and down right lust have been directed at the Reece Peanut Butter Cup snack size McFlurry.  It’s like I’ve fallen in love all over again. Remember when you first fell in love?  The unfettered happiness. The giddy feeling you would get when you saw each other.  The excruciating loneliness of being apart.  That’s how I feel about my snack size McFlurry.  It’s a cold, crunchy, kind of love wrapped up in smooth creamy goodness.  We have clandestine meetings, usually at night, in the McDonalds parking lot.  I make up some lame excuse about needing something at the store, eagerly drive to Micky D’s, my heart rate climbing as I get closer to my beloved. I order my snack size McFlurry in a kind of sexy rasp, then drive to a secluded area where no one can see me making out with that one-of-a-kind spoon.  Sure, I feel bad and ashamed afterwards.  Sure, I tell myself, as I’m wiping off peanut butter cup residue off my face, that it will never happen again.  But, the emotional pull is just too great.  I’m afraid I have found my soul-mate and its name is McFlurry.

**For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new Spring/Summer  Snarky line of clothing and accessories. Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.) Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.