So, um, yeah, this is embarrassing, or sad or embarrassingly sad, but I think my emergency contact should be the drive-thru employees at the McDonald’s at 119th and Roe. Apparently, these people really know me.
It doesn’t hurt that I’m a creature of habit. Every morning Monday through Friday between 7:40a.m. and 7:50 a.m. 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. And please don’t bother sending me an email that QuikTrip is better.
I give the QuikTrip mix second place because the carbonation quality can vary widely from store to store. (My gift to you on this Wednesday is that the QuikTrip in North Kansas City on Burlington has the best ratio. You’re welcome.)
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 awhile 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 ickiest ceramic tile that needs updating, but who has time to chisel out those monster 24-by-24 inch tiles of ’80s bad taste.
And back to old. How old do I look? Sure, I look pretty lousy 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, the more I decided to be delighted that the employees notice me. Thinking back, they’ve noticed when I’ve gotten my haircut, and even when my son is home from college because that’s when 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.
Reach Sherry Kuehl at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.