My poor husband was still suffering the effects of some horrible allergic reaction when we got up this morning. He was so uncomfortable that he woke up pretty early (we went to the Vigil Mass on Saturday) and quietly left the room so that I could continue sleeping. But my normal level of sleep is about as deep as a raindrop, so I woke up when I heard him leave, in spite of the fact that I didn't go to bed until 2:30 a.m. I couldn't stand the thought of his being downstairs, suffering all by himself, so I crawled out of bed, took a quick shower and went downstairs myself, tiptoeing carefully so as not to wake the girls.
When I looked at my husband's face, I nearly turned to stone. It was that bad. He and Medusa could have had a face-off, she with her snaky hair and he with his blistery-looking bright red cheeks, chin and forehead and his swollen-to-slits eyes. Seriously, it was all I could do to smile tentatively and say, "Oh, honey....How are you feeling?"
"Awful," he said succinctly, and his code for "awful" means, "Do you remember the combination to the lock box, because that's where you'll find my will" and "We are current on my life insurance policy, aren't we?"
I immediately started in with the Benadryl, the Advil and the icy facecloths, but I was feeling kind of nervous because they didn't seem to be helping all that much. Yikes.
The girls trailed downstairs soon afterwards and we all decided that I'd go get some breakfast for us all at McDonald's since my husband and I missed our grocery date yesterday. I took everyone's order and then jumped in the van to go to the downtown McDonald's which is about three minutes from our house.
This McDonald's is very deceptive. It is a very attractive place, especially at this time of year. The service that takes care of the little lawn and all the plants does a really spectacular job and there are lots and lots of flowers and ornamental grasses and all kinds of stuff that I don't know the name of, what with my Rappaccini's Daughter Syndrome and all. But for all its beauty on the outside, the inside of this McDonald's is a den of vipers.
Here's how I know: At this McDonald's, you just never, ever, ever leave the premises without making sure that your plain cheeseburger, yogurt parfait and medium Diet Coke are all present and accounted for. I could go through that drive thru and order a McDonaldland cookie -- just one cookie, mind you, not the whole package -- and they'd still forget to give it to me. It kind of takes the whole "fast" out of "fast food" when you have to pull up, get out of your car, and go in to say, "You forgot my cookie."
So today, when I went to the drive-thru and ordered breakfast for four, guess what? The person at window number two handed me the bag and barked, "Everything's in there," so I foolishly believed her. She sounded so authoritative. But just in case, I pulled forward to the side door and took a quick peek in the bag, just in case.
Neither of the girls' biscuits were in the bag.
Okay. I was not fit to be out in public. First of all, I had on no makeup. Secondly, I was wearing an awful outfit - the kind of outfit you wear when all you have planned for the morning is watering the flowers and giving your husband some Benadryl. Third of all, I had no product in my hair; that product is the only thing that keeps my hair from sproinging up in big frizzy curls all over my head and jeering, "Nyah nyah nyah-nyah nyaaaaahhhh!!!!" at me when I look in the mirror.
So there I was, looking "like the wrath of God" as Muriel said in Anne Tyler's novel, The Accidental Tourist, taking my bag of food and skulking into the restaurant and up to the counter, where I was hoping no one would notice me.
Apparently, I hoped a leetle too hard.
I set my bag of food down on the counter next to a register where a manager was taking someone's order and waited patiently for her to finish. I was looking at her, wanting to catch her eye. When she accepted the money from the person who had been ordering, I leaned forward slightly and held my index finger in the air to get her attention. To my surprise, she completely ignored me and called out, "Who's next?"
I stood there with my mouth open thinking, "Did that just happen? Did she just totally blow me off?" Because, you know what? I'm kind of hard to miss. I am not small of stature, not so much a big girl as I am a Force to be Reckoned With. It would be difficult to not see me, especially since I was trying to be seen.
An African-American lady in an absolutely gorgeous celery-green dress and hat came forward and began to place her order while I stood there, completely gobsmacked. Employees were crossing back and forth in front of me, a mere counter's width away, but not a single one of them would stop and try to get my order sorted out, even though they all looked me up and down with blankly incurious eyes, as if I were a particularly boring zoo exhibit.
When the lady in celery green paid the manager at the register, I did the same thing as before, only I leaned forward a little more and raised my index finger a little higher. And the manager kept her neck turned rigidly to the left, away from me, and pointedly called out, "Who's next?"
At that point, I was ready to start something. Maybe something like the first few minutes of Saving Private Ryan, only with sausage biscuits instead of bullets. But as always, my lovely upbringing restrained me from my natural impulses and I went to a more refined place and summoned my inner Suzanne Sugarbaker and raised my ladylike voice and said, "Excuse me? Excuse me! Could someone please get me a manager? My drive-thru order was bagged incorrectly. Excuse me! Excuse me!"
Please understand that I'm not necessarily proud of all this. It's never all that great to pitch a public fit. But I'm just saying. And what I'm saying is that it is a sorry day when not just the regular joes who are working the registers are rude and unaccommodating because I think we're all pretty much used to that, but also the actual managers who are dismissive and nasty.
As you can imagine, my loud, clear, well-enunciated words brought every single thing in that McDonald's to a breathless halt. Heads swiveled, voices hushed. The manager looked at me like I'd just eaten a puppy and spit out its intestines on the floor at her feet.
The African-American lady was still next to me, waiting for her tray of food to be assembled, and she patted me on the hand and said, "Mmmmm-hmmm....yes, I do know what you mean. Yes, I do. Just the other day at the grocery....mmmmm-hmmmm..."
"I'm sorry," I whispered awkwardly. "I hate having to do that, especially in front of a lady who's so obviously just been to church, but they're all acting like I'm invisible."
"You're just fine, baby girl, just fine," the lady said, still patting my hand. "You gotta do what you gotta do."
I was inordinately pleased at being referred to as "baby girl" and thought fleetingly that that skin care regimen I've been using must be doing much more for me than I'd given it credit for, but then the manager was saying frigidly, "Can I help you, ma'am?"
I proferred my receipt and said, "These two items were left off my order."
She snatched the bag from me and looked inside. The woman who had told me "Everything's in there" came over from the drive-thru (about five feet away from where I'd been standing in her full view) and said, "It's my fault that your order isn't right, but you just have to understand that I am swamped over here. I'm pouring all my own drinks."
The manager filled the entire order again, which was decent of her, but when she was over at the fryers getting our hash browns, a second manager (another woman) came over to her in my full view and within my hearing and said in a sniffy voice, "I cannot believe that woman spoke out like that in here."
"I know," said the manager who was getting the hash browns, her spine rigid. "Can you imagine acting like that?"
"I. CAN. HEAR. YOU," I said in a carrying voice so full of malevolence that I scared myself. At that point, I was probably giving Medusa and my husband a run for their money. I wouldn't have been surprised if my hair had suddenly started climbing around on my head and turning McDonald's employees into stone left, right and center.
They both jumped and looked at me guiltily and I gave them my best atom-splitting, mushroom-cloud-inducing Teacher Isn't Pleased look, the one that could bore a hole through a tank made of diamonds. My favorite manager came back over with the bag and said, "Here's your order. I'm very sorry," in a tone that plainly indicated that she was so not sorry.
"Thank you," I said evenly, and turned on my heel and left, repressing the urge to flounce. That was my second mistake of the day. Not the decision not to flounce; the leaving, I mean. I left, of course, without checking the bag, thinking that no manager could be so abysmally stupid as to get my order wrong a second time. But she did! She shorted me two hash browns. Although I am happy to state that there's no way she could have spit on the ones she did give me because I was right there watching and listening to her.
But I'm not so sure about the biscuits.
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