May 3 thru June 16, 2017
All you health food nuts, or plain ol’ healthy eaters, are probably going, “Well, DUH!” BUT, I’m not talking about how it’s going to kill me from heart disease or diabetes. It’s going to give me a stroke due to high blood pressure from dealing with idiots who work at fast food places. (NOTE: not all people who work at fast food places are idiots; I have friends who own a local place and they’re brilliant and kind and funny…but, I’ve encountered a lot of idiots.)
I eat fast food maybe half a dozen times per month. I might get a breakfast biscuit at McD’s on a Saturday or Sunday when I get up and moving before 11am. (Yes, they do serve breakfast all day now, but you DO NOT want to order a biscuit at 7pm. It will be a leftover from that morning, if you’re lucky, and it will have been nuked, and it will be hard and tasteless by the time you drive the mile to your house to eat it.) I also meet friends a couple times per month at Whataburger or Long John Silvers or a local burger joint where we can sit and visit for as long as we like and don’t get the stink eye from a waitress who wants us to leave so her next tip can sit down. And then there are the days when nothing in my house looks worth the effort to cook (or throw together as I really don’t cook), so I’ll go grab something.
So, it’s not like I’m living off this stuff. Although, the stuff I call “dinner” is probably not any better. Last night it was a single serve bag of microwaved Orville Redenbacher Smart Pop, a handful of sunflower seeds from Trader Joe’s, and 4 (OK, 6) sugar free vanilla creme wafer cookies. And a giant glass of water.
When I do go to these places, it’s usually a comedy of errors. I say “comedy” because it really is laughable, and all of my friends joke about how my orders are always wrong. In fact, my BFF texted me last night after her order was messed up while treating her granddaughter to dinner. She said it was like she was having dinner with me. 🙂
Now, the main reason my order is always messed up is because I eat like a kindergartner. I’ll relate some of my experiences later on, but first, let me tell you what I like, and don’t like, to eat.
This is a short list of my favorite foods (obvious things, like Doritos and Oreos, have been left off):
- peanut butter sandwiches – but the bread has to be white and super squishy soft – PB&J on whole grain bread is nasty – surprisingly enough, I do not care if it’s creamy or crunchy, BUT I don’t like the kind that separates and has to be stirred – ICK!
- grilled cheese sandwiches – and I mean GRILLED, not toasted with barely melted cheese, and not so greasy that it’s a flat pancake of goo – and it’s even better if the grilled cheese has perfectly crispy bacon on it – if the bacon is not crispy enough, I’ll simply remove it and won’t eat it
- pepperoni pizza with light sauce – since I hate tomatoes, the sauce had better not be oozing out the edges or else I’ll scrape most of it off with my fork – bonus points if the pepperoni is on the crispy side (but I’ll still eat it if it’s not, unlike with bacon) and if the crust is thin and crispy (are you seeing the theme of “texture”?)
- cereal – my favorites are Special K, Cheerios, Frosted Mini Wheats, Frosted Flakes, and Lucky Charms – I hate Cap’n Crunch, Rice Crispies, and a host of others
- scrambled eggs – and only scrambled – preferably with a bit of cheese mixed in and the eggs had better not be runny – if I’m at someone’s house and they’re only making fried eggs, mine better be hard – but I hate hard-boiled eggs (are you catching on how weird I am?)
- salads – here’s where it gets tricky – since I’m practically a vegetarian who hates vegetables, I am picky about what goes in the salad – NO tomatoes or cucumbers, for example – essentially, I like lettuce, cabbage, carrots, radishes, maybe a piece of cauliflower and then I throw on cheese, sunflower seeds, bacon bits, and anything else crispy
- chicken – but I will not eat it if the bones are still there – reminds me too much of what it was before it was fried or grilled – so I prefer breast meat cooked in a multitude of ways, fried chicken sandwiches, or some kind of “finger” (I won’t ask the stupid question about why they’re called that)
- turkey – I love a good Thanksgiving turkey, and I’m always happy when my brother-in-law saws into it and serves the pieces rather than putting the whole bird on the table – and I avoid looking at the carcass later – as for fast food turkey sandwiches, the only one I can really stand is Jimmy John’s because it is isn’t as slimey and obviously processed as what is served at Subway
- fish – as above, no bones – I prefer fried (of course!), but I will eat a nice trout almondine or some other preparation of a filet
- shrimp & clams – as above, fried is the way to go
- veggies I will eat are preferably raw: the lettuce, cabbage, carrots, radishes, cauliflower I put in my salad, for example, or a handful of baby carrots as a snack or with a meal – however, I will eat green beans on occasion (Thanksgiving), as well as corn, and I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like (unless it was mashed…again, it’s all about the texture) – in addition to despising those nasty, mushy, seedy tomatoes, I am not a fan of onions UNLESS they’re those itty bitty onion string things that come with some meals in restaurants – not to be confused with onion rings, which are about as bad as a tomato
- fruit – I don’t eat much of it because it goes bad too quickly at my house, but I love apples and bananas – sometimes I’ll be adventurous if someone is serving a fruit salad, unless there are berries in it, which I will avoid spooning onto my plate
- hot dogs – very rarely – and they have to be the skinny cheap ones and on a bun and that’s it – no condiments except maybe a sprinkling of grated cheese
This is a list of what I won’t eat:
- ketchup, mustard, mayo, salad dressing, tartar sauce – everything I order is plain (a huge hint about why my fast food orders are always wrong) – I will eat BBQ sauce on occasion, and sweet & sour sauce on tempura chicken or shrimp, but that’s about it in the sauce department
- pork chops – if I’m at someone’s home and that’s what they serve, I’ll eat it – but not a fan – same with just about every other form of pork (ribs, ham, etc.) except bacon and pepperoni (is that pork???)
- beef – I’ve always disliked a big slab of red meat, and now I’ve recently stopped eating cheeseburgers – the little skinny ones from McD’s used to be on the “will eat” list, but I’ll tell you why they aren’t anymore
- berries – I hate berries – I love the flavor of berries in jellies (NO jams or preserves!) and some other foods, but to eat one whole is gross – I have no idea why…I have no idea why I am like this – I’ve been like this forever – I remember my mom being THRILLED that I would eat a grilled cheese from an A&W in Seattle, which is probably one of my first memories – apparently, I wouldn’t eat much so she was happy to find something I liked – years later, I recall my cousins falling off their chairs every time I took a bite of dinner, thinking that would make me eat more and be more adventurous – nope
- hot beverages – no coffee, hot tea, or hot chocolate for me, thank you
- pretty much everything else
Despite all those self-imposed restrictions, I can always find something to eat wherever my friends go. I’d rather it not be a place like Taco Bell though, as the only stuff I’ll eat there are chips and cheese sauce or cheese quesadillas. The new Naked Chicken Chips do look intriguing though. If we go to a specialty taco place, like Fuzzy’s (YUM!!!), I always get a breakfast taco or a tempura fish sandwich. If I end up at a regular Mexican food place (there’s at least 1 on every corner here), then I’ll have chicken fajitas, BUT there’s no need to bring me anything other than the chicken, flour tortillas, and some cheese ’cause I’m not going to put anything else on them. Chinese? It’s sweet & sour chicken or shrimp. Red Lobster is my best friend. I can get fried clams, which remind me of the Howard Johnson’s in Dillon, SC (first place I ever had them), and Red Lobster is the only place I ever eat clams. And don’t get me started on those biscuits. I’ll take 2 baskets, please, for ME! (Actually, I usually only eat 2 biscuits total because I’d be too embarrassed to order 2 baskets of biscuits and nothing else, although that would suit me just fine.)
So, where’s the rant about fast food? Here it is!
These are a few of my most recent experiences, which occurred just within the past month. I’ve thankfully let go of, and forgotten, most of the rest that occurred before.
- One night this week, I couldn’t stand 1 more PB&J, so I decided to go get a fish sandwich. I recently stopped eating cheeseburgers. While having one at my favorite burger joint about a month ago, it suddenly hit me what I was doing. I was eating a cow. A poor, sweet, big-eyed, moo cow. I’ve always known this, of course, but a cheeseburger is a nicely disguised form of beef, unlike a steak. So, I put it down, half-eaten, and haven’t had another since then. This makes it more difficult to take my kindergartner appetite out for fast food. So, I was going to get a fish sandwich from Wendy’s. Got to the menu and saw it wasn’t there anymore. Order taker confirmed they stopped selling it. Strike 1. Drove to the opposite corner to McD’s. Ordered the fish combo but wanted a water. I’m trying to cut down on diet drinks after a co-worker who drank Diet Cokes non-stop all day was diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer (prayers, please). So, I asked for water instead of a soda or tea (oh, I forgot about iced tea…I only drink unsweetened with several splashes of lemonade, which is impossible to order at a drive-thru). The order taker added it all to the screen, including the water, but then said that I couldn’t get a water, unless I paid extra for a bottled water. Excuse me? If I were to go inside and they gave me an empty cup, I could darned sure put ice and water in it, so why couldn’t they do the same? And, besides, wouldn’t it be a bonus for them if I skipped the soda that costs them money and got FREE water as part of my combo? I told them that was insane and left. Strike 2. The only other place nearby that has fish sandwiches is Whataburger. Not my favorite fish sandwich, but that was my only other option. So, I went there and finally got my fish. I also refrained from having the same discussion about water by ordering an unsweet tea and added the lemonade when I got home (which I had forgotten I had when I ordered at McD’s, but by driving off I proved my point…yeah, right, like they’re now allowing water with a combo as we speak).
- This next story is a few days before no-more-cheeseburgers day. I met my BFF for lunch at McD’s and ordered a plain cheeseburger (the little flat ones; not the Big Mac or Whopper or whatever it is they sell). I should’ve known it was going to be tricky when the manager, who was at a register with an employee and they were ordering food for themselves, yelled at one of the other employees who were just standing around to take our orders. Way to manage! You go, girl! The kid took the orders and then went back to chatting. As we waited, we could see the place was in disarray. Overflowing trash. Nearly empty straw bucket by the drink dispenser. Dirty tables. But, there were employees everywhere. Just not working much. My friend got her order and I continued to wait. I could see my plain cheeseburger being made and wrapped and then slid into the slot for pick-up. 2 kids were discussing something really important as they stood in front of the slots with my tray that had my fries, which were growing colder by the second. (McD’s has the best fast food fries, but you’d better eat them hot ’cause they are the worst when they’re cold, and don’t put them in the microwave to heat them ’cause they’re worse that way than cold.) Anyway, the drive-thru had a customer that pulled ahead (a scam, BTW, that only helps their order times and screws the customer into getting at least part of their order cold while they fulfill whatever “special” thing caused you to pull forward). The kid who was waiting for my burger grabbed the bag and said he’d take it out. I asked him if he could please give me my burger first. He looked in the slot and said, “It’s not ready.” I said, “I watched it being made. I saw it go in the slot.” He told me, again, “It’s not ready,” and then asked where his plain cheeseburger was, which caused the people in the back to speak to each other in Spanish and then put together another plain cheeseburger. The one that I’d seen them make previously was still sitting in the slot.
- While on my vacation to Colorado a couple weeks ago to see my nephew graduate from high school (YAY!), I got to my Amarillo motel pretty early. After I checked in, I started driving up the service road to see what I could find. I usually get there late and end up eating whatever snacks I have left, so this time I went exploring. I decided I wanted Long John Silvers, so I pulled up to the speaker. No one said anything, so I kept waiting. I finally drove to the window and sat there. I could see lights were on and the sign said “Open” in red neon, but no one ever came to the window. In addition to seeing the lights, it looked kinda dirty and messy inside so I decided I didn’t even want to go in. I left. I ended up with a perfect grilled cheese with bacon that I ordered to go from IHOP. Not a bad outcome, but I was jonesing for some of those crispy bits that you get with your LJS fish.
- The next morning, I stopped at my usual McD’s in Amarillo when I’m on a trip to/from Colorado. I’ve had issues there before. Most notably was the inability to make proper change. It caused a major to-do for them to figure it out. On this trip, however, I paid in almost exact currency, so it was all good. That part, anyway. I ordered my usual…a biscuit with only cheese on it. After paying, I waited what seemed a little longer than normal, and the guy at the window noticed it as well. He asked the food handlers where “his” biscuit was, and someone pointed to one of those oversized bags that they put the big breakfast platters in. He said that wasn’t it. They said it was. He looked inside and then handed it out the window to me with an apology for the delay. I pulled away and parked, opened the bag, and inside was one of those platters. With a biscuit. And a slice of cheese. Next to it. Cold. The hash browns weren’t even on the platter with them; they were separate in their little sleeve. I just sat there shaking my head for a few seconds. At least there wasn’t a nasty piece of sausage on there to pick off. And, thankfully, they had sliced the biscuit for me as there were no utensils. So, I slapped the cheese on there, stuck it back in the bag for a little bit to get it to melt some, and drove off. I finally ate it about 3-4 miles down the road. And now the biscuit was almost as cold as the cheese had been. $3-ish well spent. Said with sarcasm.
- There are no fast food places in the town where my sister lives. We also don’t eat out too much when there. We did order pizza one night, which was perfect, and we went to 2 places for lunches, and my sandwiches were right both times. Hooray! But, that streak ended when I got back to Amarillo for the night on my way home. I decided to get a quick, easy, usually foolproof grilled cheese & tots from Sonic. After what seemed like a long wait, I finally got my order (the Sonics around me freak me out ’cause they’re so fast it’s almost like they read my mind before I ordered, although the food isn’t as impressive). I tipped the server and went back to my room. The grilled cheese was definitely not grilled. It was toasted, darkly, to the point of being nearly burned, which is what it smelled like. And if there was butter on it, it was about as much as whatever saliva you might leave behind if you licked a piece of bread. The cheese was barely melted. And, the tots were cold. I ate 1 bite of the sandwich and 2-3 tots. $7-ish well spent. Again, the sarcasm. This time I used the Sonic website to register a complaint. A few days later I got a call from an Amarillo number. I didn’t answer it. I didn’t want to hear excuses or “I’m sorry. Come by next week and I’ll give you a free order of tots or an ice cream cone.” I live 6 hours away, thank you very much.
So, if you come here some day to read this, and it’s clear that I have passed into another realm (where, I hope, there are perfectly grilled cheese sandwiches with crispy bacon…and perfect pepperoni pizzas…and a ton of dogs running around, especially Bella), then it may be that I had one final run-in with a fast food worker who does not know the meaning of the words “grilled” or “crispy” or “plain.” And who can’t put water instead of soda into a cup.