On my way to work on Tuesday, I stopped at McDonald’s to buy a sweet tea for the road. Say what you will about Mickey D’s, but they serve a damn good southern-style sweet tea. It’s tasty, comes in an enormous cup that almost requires two hands, and only costs a dollar. Oh, it’s perfectly executed.
I had a 36 mile trip to work, and 45 minutes to play with. But the long-ass line at the drive-thru looked to be problematic. I could feel in my bones that the fast-food math was not on my side. If I committed to that creeping queue, I’d almost certainly be late. So, I parked and went inside.
There was only a mother and her portly son at the counter, which was a relief. You never know what you’re getting yourself into there, but everything looked to be wide-open.
I took my place behind the pair, and heard the mother order something that sounded like “frappe.” What in the finger-snapping hell? Is that a drink, or something to do with pastry? I wasn’t sure, but didn’t like how this thing was shaking out. This is fast food, goddammit, not a sidewalk café in Paris.
And sure enough, the cashier walked away and started messing around with a blender, or somesuch. It’s McDonald’s! There shouldn’t be any blenders!! It was a long drawn-out affair. And I was standing there with $1.06 clutched in my fully-prepared hand, desperately watching her perform a science experiment on the other side of the room. “Is a freaking Coke not good enough for you, you pampered hog??” I wanted to holler at the person who’d just ruined my life.
I began huffing and puffing, and sighing theatrically, hoping this might cause one of the other employees to step to the plate. There were six or eight fully-uniformed people milling around back there — not one of them doing anything, as far as I could tell. But nobody would answer my call.
Then a guy behind me started bitching. “SO THIS IS ALLEGEDLY A FAST FOOD RESTAURANT, HUH?” he asked me, loud enough to be heard in the parking lot. “I DON’T SEE ANYTHING MOVING TOO FAST AROUND HERE, DO YOU? WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT GIRL?”
“Aw, she’s all the way over there messing around with some idiotic drink,” I told him, forgetting that the woman who’d ordered it was standing right there. She turned around and shot me a dirty look, and I felt a little embarrassed.
“SO THEY ONLY HAVE ONE REGISTER OPEN? WITH ALL THESE PEOPLE HERE??” the guy screamed at me. “WHO’S RUNNING THIS PLACE, ELMER FUDD??”
I liked his enthusiasm, but ‘Elmer Fudd’ was a disappointment. It felt like he was capable of so much more.
But it did the trick. A clearly irritated woman of size sauntered up to the cash register and said, “Help who’s next?” She apparently couldn’t muster enough energy to say all of the words, so she just went with the minimum.
I got my giant iced tea, nodded goodbye to my brother in passive-aggressive complaining, and tore ass out of there. I was now pushing it, and it was a 50/50 chance I’d be late. I don’t like to be late… It’s one of my “things.” I have many “things.”
I merged onto I-81, and began cruising southward at 80 mph. And taking big slugs off that bunker-buster of tea… I put Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk into the CD player (what of it?), and continued swigging my diabetes water while constantly checking the clock.
I have this formula, where I calculate one mile as one minute. And if everything goes well, I can shave several minutes off my estimated arrival time, while in transit. It looked like I would be parking my car with three or four minutes to spare. I was in good shape, according to my calculations.
But then tragedy struck.
There was some sort of giant vehicle sporting tires that were fifteen feet tall. It was too wide for one lane of the interstate, and was moving at roughly 7 mph. I almost rammed the guy in front of me, who had to slam on his brakes to avoid ramming the person in front of him. What the crap, man? Where did this ludicrous vehicle come from? Had it just entered the highway? We were right there, behind it. There was no long line of traffic or anything.
We couldn’t get around the thing, and were creeping down the road at a ridiculously slow speed. I think a three-legged dog passed me on the right. This was throwing my formula into a state of disarray, and now anything was possible. I might have uttered a few of the bad words.
Then I realized I had to pee. Some of that tea had already worked its way through my organs and whatnot, and was wanting out. And I was stuck behind the freaking moon rover on Interstate 81.
I pulled into a parking space at 2:58, and when I jumped out from behind the wheel there was an audible sloshing sound in my gut. It was like when you’re carrying a bucket of water around a corner. I felt like my stomach was distended, and there was a great pressure against my intestines. I probably looked like Herman Munster walking across the parking lot.
And when I logged onto my computer (how they keep track of us), it was… 3:01. Dammit! I was late. I hate being late.
I made an angry beeline to the bathroom, with a fire burning inside me. And I urinated so long it probably surpassed the playing time of the original studio version of “Free Bird.” I mean it was a full-blown pissathon.
After it finally came to an end, I returned to my desk and realized my heart was racing and I was all speeded-up. All that caffeine and sugar had me going. Someone asked me a question, and it felt like I was chattering like a cocaine freak. What was going on?? I’d had the McDonald’s sweet tea plenty of times before with no problems.
Then I had to pee again, and again, and again. I just kept on peein’, for a couple of hours. And even though I was conscious of it, I couldn’t stop myself from being way too animated in my speech. I was waving my hands around and using novelty voices… What was happening to me? I was like Sid Caesar all of sudden.
I went back to my desk, and muttered: “You’ve got to maintain… Get a hold of yourself, man.” Then I had to pee again, and briefly considered attempting a cartwheel on my way to the bathroom. For a few seconds that actually seemed like an attractive course of action. But I was able to tamp down my urges.
I try to avoid making grand proclamations, but I don’t think I’ll be stopping for sweet tea on my way to work anymore. A few more episodes like that one, and I’ll end up in rehab… It starts at McDonald’s and ends at the BFC.