Taking a chance on fast food

Garrison Ebie

For one reason or another, I’m hungry. Starving, actually. The acids in my stomach are craving something to decompose. My brain can hardly imagine anything else. Saliva drips from the roof of my mouth at the thought of a sandwich. This calls for action. I must satisfy this urge immediately.

Walking into my tiny kitchen, I hope that a roommate has left some Hamburger Helper on the stove or maybe forgotten about some pierogies in the microwave. But no such luck. In fact, everything is clean. How unusual.

I proceed to open the pantry. Empty. Breadcrumbs and remnants of flour, sugar, spice and coffee grounds litter the vacant compartment. Moving to the refrigerator, I crack it open only to discover ketchup and an assortment of other condiments scattered about. I see Tupperware dishes containing month-old mashed potatoes and chunks of crumbled up aluminum foil encasing objects I’ve long since forgotten about and are very likely dangerous to touch.

By now it’s finally come to my attention that my house has absolutely nothing safe to eat. This is awful. Most people at least have some strange vegetable in the freezer making it look like they know how to cook. All I see in there, however, are cubes of solid ice and frost covering the walls.

So I check my pockets. Two wadded up dollar bills, four dimes, two nickels and three quarters. It’s 1 a.m. Thus far, I fought long and hard in my search for a bite to eat and have failed miserably. I’m losing patience. I deserve instant gratification. I want something right now.

I begin to imagine the inconceivable. Ponder the absurd. I begin to consider . fast food.

Defeated by impulses, I step into my car and begin the trip to the Golden Arches. I know it’s open. It always is. When the apocalypse arrives and the four horsemen trot across a desolate, fiery planet, McDonald’s will still be open for business. Because no matter what, there will always be someone left who curiously enough, is still lovin’ it.

Pulling up to the drive-thru I see options. Dozens of options. At this point I’d rather someone make my choice for me because I simply don’t care any more. Then. I hear it.

“Weeeemmm tmmmdlsssshhhhhh. Cneye tkkk shhhhh order.”

This sounds like nothing short of guitar feedback through a Fisher Price walkie-talkie. What was just said to me? I’m delirious enough as it is, and the problems I’m already encountering in this drive-thru disaster are difficult to handle.

But I still know the basics.

Two bucks and some change. That’s enough.

“I just want a double cheeseburger, fries and … A McChicken” I said.

“Raahhh bbbbaaasshhh kkaann bllaafff,” the tiny box replied. In an age of digital technology when it’s free to instantly talk to someone in Australia with something you can keep in your pocket, it still bothers me that problems facing fast food intercom systems have not yet been resolved.

I assume this means pull around to the second window. I follow suit, stop next to a glass protrusion in the wall of McDonald’s and try my best to wait patiently. My stomach growls. It was one of those growls that can vibrate the surroundings. I’ve gotten this far. Give it to me.

My wadded up currency drops into the hands of a woman who may be only 35 but looks more like 50. No smile, no expression at all. She takes my money and closes the window. I wait more. Ten seconds later, the old, haggard-looking woman returns with a bag that must be filled with my food. But I wonder … I know this is fast food, but that seemed to be unnatural … just a little too fast, actually.

After tediously making the journey to satisfy my hunger, it would be difficult to disappoint me. But when this bag was given to me and I drove my car into the nearest available parking space, I emptied the contents, but was still not satisfied.

This cheeseburger’s bun is slipping off the patty, almost completely covering the edges, not the top and bottom. The cheese is cold, not melted. More fries are inside the large bag than the fry container, and the McChicken looks like it’s been slapped together by a Koala Bear.

Sure, image isn’t everything, especially not here. I was not expecting a five-, four- or even a one-star quality meal at these wee hours of the morning. But this is not the McDonald’s I remembered as a child. Funny how something as blatant as fast food seems magic to a five-year-old. For on this cold November night, I received no toy, no imagery of a smiling clown who wants to be my friend, no satisfaction at all. I leave the premises feeling empty. Not my stomach, though. For this time, it is my soul that feels hollow.

Garrison Ebie is a senior electronic production major and a columnist for the Daily Kent stater. Contact him at [email protected].