Impure Thoughts #8: Old People, Fast Food and the word "Poignant".

Impure Thoughts #8: Old People, Fast Food and the word "Poignant".

Impure Thoughts #8: Old People, Fast Food, and the word “Poignant”.

I noticed it when I was in high school working at one of two Roy Rogers stores on Long Island. Old people order the strangest combination of things at fast food joints. Beavis and Butthead even made fun of it once, when the elderly, naïve, and out of touch neighbor pulled up to the drive through and yelled into the speaker, “LARGE COFFEE, FRIES AND AN APPLE PIE!!!” over and over again.

At Roy Rogers, there was a guy who was in the American Legion, who used to come in religiously and order a similar strange combination of things except he would hold his senior discount card out at arms length in my face and say, “SENIOR! MAKE SURE I GET THE SENIOR PRICE.” every single time. I worked there a year and a half. Then, I got fired. Come to think of it, I got fired from every fast food joint I ever worked in. That’s how I KNEW I was destined for greatness. He, and his American Legion jacket came in every Thursday. Once, we were supposed to be open for Thanksgiving, but it snowed so bad the manager called everyone early in the morning, and said we would not be open that day. American Legion guy came in the following week and with considerable vigor and extreme prejudice let me know his displeasure at MY decision to close the store the previous Thursday. I was but a lowly cashier. I understood then and now his need to express the importance of the senior discount, but remain baffled at his thinking I was in charge of the place simply because I worked the register.

And that brings me to my point. I know, you’re thinking OH THANK GOD.

Well if you made it this far in reading my dribble, I should tell you that throughout my life, I’ve noticed that things happen in patterns, be it over long periods of time or lumped together. But, they go on nonetheless. Certain things related to a given topic will appear to me in one way or another repeatedly for a time, then they stop. I’ve told my wife about this odd idea of mine (and it’s my ONLY odd idea, I swear!), and I think she’s starting to agree with me. One of the patterns I’ve noticed is old people ordering weird combinations of things from fast food joints.

A few weeks ago, I was behind a man in McDonalds, whose core menu really hasn’t changed since forever, and this older guy was having a hell of a time just ordering two cheeseburgers with no lettuce (regular McDonalds cheeseburgers don’t have lettuce, and haven’t since I’ve been alive), ”Yeah, that one, over there, the one I’m pointing to!” (as if the kid has eyes in the back of his head), a senior coffee (again with the “senior”), and two apple pies. That’s not even really that strange a combination, but what struck me this time was the man’s inability to navigate the menu (which he HAS to be at least somewhat familiar with, right?), his seeming need to stretch his arm to maximum length and point to the item of discussion, and the fact that every time the zit faced teenager behind the counter seemed to finally understand his message the guy who jut out both thumbs up and loudly exclaim, “COOL, MAN!” I don’t know if he was trying to be on the same conversational level as a 17 year old, when they were clearly at least 50 years apart, or just a retired surfer from Malibu. The latter is doubtful, as I was in Maryland.

Once long ago, I was behind a cranky old bastard in one of the plazas on the Indiana Toll Road. The night before had brought a wicked lake effect snow-storm, and the roads were all but impassable, at least for another hour or so. An old man made a god awful strange order, confused the not-real-smart, already plainly stressed, and flustered cashier who got screwed up his change, (because that’s what the machine told her to give him) and he asked her, “That’s not right, what’s your problem? What the hell school did you go to?” She got completely mad, and stormed off red faced and glassy eyed. He turned, looked at the crowd of people behind him (I was three people behind him), shrugged, and stood there, now with a line of equally pissed off truck drivers behind him. “What the hell’s her problem?” he asked the general crowd. One or two drivers made comments about how it didn’t take smarts to be a McDonalds employee, so on and so forth. I simply responded rather loudly, “You’re lucky it’s not me behind the counter. Honestly. You can see she wasn’t too smart, and you insulted her after she made a simple mistake. I’d have probably come over the counter at your cranky old ass.” It’s really no wonder I got fired from fast food joints.

“Driver, you need to calm the hell down.” said a random voice.

“No. This old bastard needs to go back to his damn RV and quit shitting on people.” I said.

We all got our coffee, when the manager dutifully completed comforting the crying moron cashier, and nobody got killed. I think about that all the time. It was a point of pride to me also; to knock one of these wealthy, “I’ll sit in the middle lane and hold up traffic on the interstate all day if I want to!” RV-ing asses down a notch. They really do think the world is theirs. It makes me crazy when I see them taking up truck parking spots, with their extensions out, and their curtains indignantly closed when there’s a KOA a block away they are simply to o cheap to go into, and a cross-eyed driver or five circling a crowded truck stop parking lot. I hope to be one someday! We all need a goal.

Yes, I actually think about this stuff a lot. Because I wonder if things like this are simply a product of getting older, that you’re more concerned with surviving everyday life, and not insignificant stuff like the latest goings on in Hollywood, or Facebook, or which celebrity is in rehab again, or if it’s the onset of senility, and a true indicator that a person has been sort of “passed by” by a constantly evolving society.I was never into celebrity happenings anyway.

Because sometimes I don’t know what I want from McDonalds, and I’m 36. I'm now 40 as of the posting of this article, again.

And I think I can spin this into a poignant lesson for the New Year. Because you all need lesson from a middle class high school graduate. And I’m sure I can take a message from this also.

The message is this:



Try to stay positive.

And just be nice to people. Even dumb and out of touch ones.