My mother's words echoed in my ears this week, as one of her favourite sayings was really never more apt. 'These things are only leant', she used to say to me, when I would tell her of something that had happened, that was perhaps not very kind. However, try as I might, sometimes I just cannot help but laugh at a situation, but before long, I realise the truth in my mother's words, and the tables become turned.
Last Sunday evening we decided to do the unthinkable. We chose to go to the local McDonald's drive-thru. We approached the obelisk that stood next to the menu board, and a voice from within requested our requirements. Our order was, we thought, fairly simple. Three double cheeseburgers, (no onions) and two regular fries. Dana spoke into the speaker that was just above the screen on the four foot column, and we watched as the order was repeated back to us, electronically. 1 cheeseburger, no onions, no pickles, 2 cheeseburgers, two fries, disappeared almost as quickly as it had appeared, and was followed by 2 cheeseburgers, no onions, no pickles. 1 double cheeseburger. 2 fries. Without warning, the fries disappeared, as did the double cheeseburger, and we waited with baited breath to see what we were going to be given for supper! Eventually, after several variations, the screen read back the order we had originally given. By now, I had developed a slight giggle, and was giving Dana outrageous explanations as to why this had been such a difficult task. We drove to the next window, as instructed by the voice and the car behind us took his place at the speaker. The face that was at the next window was very young, and donned a very confused look, as my husband handed over two bills, a five and a one, and two quarters, to cover the final bill of $6.35. Confusion turned to panic, as the mouth on the young face opened, and hysterical words emitted, 'It's joined the two orders!' Sitting on the counter were our three double cheeseburgers and two regular fries, but the screen in front of our server had added the next order to the final amount. Full of sympathy, I whispered across, 'tell him to give you 15 cents', thinking that this would help the poor young man who was obviously very distressed. Dana repeated what I had said, but the young man was frozen to the spot, and without moving his lips, managed to repeat, 'It's joined the two orders'. A slight cry followed the statement, and another member of staff appeared on the scene. After a short discussion, the new arrival took stock of the situation, and things started to look promising. However, looks are often deceiving and within seconds the impending terror had spread and we were witnessing a meltdown of the golden arches! 'Just give me 15 cents', said Dana, as calmly as he could, as I sat facing the other way, with my shoulders going up and down as I tried to stifle the laughter. Finally, a third person came to the window and asked what was going on! After a brief explanation of how the two orders had joined on the screen, and teller number one showing him the total of $6.50, the somewhat lucid staff member looked at the screen, added up the total and very calmly told teller number two to, 'give him his 15 cents!' Dana politely thanked them, as I let out a gasp, and a high pitched squeal, which I hoped would be interpreted as appreciation.
As I repeated the story of our amusing trip, my mother's words faded into the recesses of my mind, and I thought that perhaps 'payback' would not happen. My naughty streak continued, as I found more and more to laugh at! Samantha and I took a lunch break on Thursday, and she drove me in her new car to the craft store. As she went in search of material for this year's Halloween costumes (for her and the dog) I strolled through the aisles and looked at sewing machines. I declined help from the assistant, claiming that I was only browsing, but followed up with the statement, 'when my daughter left home, she took mine with her, so I will buy a new one eventually'. Said daughter then appeared on the scene, announcing that the whole store was now aware of my situation! Although slightly embarrassed, especially as the assistant told Samantha, 'Mum's can also be very loud', I did not think that I had received my 'payback'. We drove back to the office, stopping at another drive-thru, which did not experience the same problem as the yellow M's. While we were waiting for the order to be filled, Samantha showed me the 'extras' that constituted the 'special' package added to her car, and I went on a 'button pressing' spree. The look that only daughters can produce, the one that reads, 'Really, mother!' was the response I received when I asked. 'What does this do?' as I pressed the seat belt release. I was laughing all the way back to the office, under a very false sense of security!
Friday came, and almost went , with no consequences to my previous weekend's actions. I spoke to my cousin, Lesley, on Viber, with both of us wondering if we had, indeed, used the 'free' call option, or if we were going to receive an enormous phone bill. However, at 4pm, Dana announced that he needed to send some papers to Louisiana, and Mississippi, and they were too large to go in the regular mail. After calculating the various options, the best method was to use a medium 'if it fits, it ships' box. Although I have a variety of mailing accessories, the only one I did not have was the medium, 'if it fits, it ships', size. I loaded up a larger, empty, box with the papers that needed to be mailed, our company's address stamp, two paper labels, and some sticky tape. Also in my box were some stamped letters, and something I had to send by certified mail. Dana carried the heavy load to the car, and I then drove downtown. As the time was approaching 4:45pm, the parking was limited, and I had to drive around twice before finding a space, which was not on the main road. With two quarters in hand, I checked the options of the parking meter, and then pushed them into the slot. The first one slipped in and '15 minutes' displayed on the screen. As I knew I would have to spend some time assembling the boxes, and then possibly waiting in a queue, I chose not to take a chance, and added another quarter. The display remained on '15 minutes'. Not amused, I pressed the cancel button, hoping that my money would be returned, but instead the screen displayed, '14 minutes'. I was a minute and a quarter down! Deciding that I would argue with the meter maid should the case arise, I walked down and along to the post office. Ever thankful for automatic doors, I elbowed the button and waited to enter. The queue was long, but I had to find my boxes, so I was not too perturbed. However, they did not appear to be on the shelves, and I must have looked rather lost, as one of the customers very kindly told me, 'there are some more around the corner, at the back'. I thanked him and made my way to the end of the room. Having found the boxes, I placed my own box on the floor, and started to assemble the cardboard into a cube. Once I had completed the task, to my horror, I realised that they were not self-sealing as they had been previously. My skinny sticky-tape was not going to fulfill the function. I am not sure that I resembled the golden archer, but I must have had a very disenchanted expression upon my face, as the counter-personnel shouted across to me, 'Ma'am; you can use this priority tape'. Extremely grateful, I rose and collected the tape-gun, and returned to my position. In my usual get-up, of business attire, a classic straight dress and pair of high heeled sandals, I was kneeling on the floor of the post office, taping up boxes. No one seemed to be particularly aware of my presence, but I started to feel very conspicuous. I realised, all to late, that like the burger man I was muttering to myself, without moving my lips. Tape-gun in hand, I started to explain to a non-interested audience that they could probably see why I was not nominated the 'gift wrapper' in any walk of life. Unfortunately, the tape-gun was then decided that it was going on strike. The tape, itself, twisted, and refused to unwind. It slipped out of the holdal and I was starting to resemble a package myself, sticking my hands together, not able to make a clean cut! After a long time, I managed to disentangle everything and start again. Attempting not to giggle, hysterically, I carried on with my work, and eventually had two unevenly taped boxes, an envelope which was to be sent certified mail, and a handful of stamped envelopes, which I could deposit in the drop box. I rose, ungainly, wiped the dirt from my knees, and contemplated my options. I could leave the mess in the middle of the floor, and take my stamped envelopes to the drop box, or I could pile everything back into my box and walk to the counter. I opted for the former, and left the chaos to be collected upon my return. Attempting to regain composure, again, I decided that as my powers of co-ordination had become non-existent, it would be best to do things, 'one at a time'. I lifted one box and walked it to the counter, returned to my clutter, collected the second box, and walked that over. The third trip was to collect my belongings, which I did place in my box, and made my way to the now open counter. The lady that stood behind had been watching me, and as I approached, I saw her shoulders shaking, attempting not to burst into laughter. However, she failed! It was a relief as I started to laugh too.
I returned to the car, which did not have a ticket, despite the fact that the meter had run out of money some time beforehand, placed my box on the back seat, and got into the car, myself, vaguely aware that a security guard and another person were watching me. Someone had stolen the steering wheel! It took a moment or two to realise that the two men who were still staring at me, were probably wondering why I had jumped into the passenger side! After nine years I am still driving on the right! (Well I still think it is the right side!) Very gingerly, but with an air of nonchalant, I got out of the car and walked around to the side with the driving pedals! My mother's words were now not only screaming in my head, but were ricocheting around at twice the speed of sound! Yes, I can count, I can work out how to subtract 35 cents from 50, but man, could that golden archer wrap a bun better than me!
Dana's question, 'Did you have fun?' was not accepted with the grace that it should have been, but I forgave him! I am quite sure my laughter will not be suppressed in future situations, but my mother's words will haunt me forever! I shall endeavour to be more patient, and have more empathy (rather than sympathy!) and perhaps give my findings in ............ another story!