I got the wrong drink at McDonald’s today. It’s not that the person behind the counter gave me the wrong drink; I was given a cup and sent to the do-it-yourself drink bar to make that mistake all by myself.
Sidenote: I am irritated that the service industry has stopped serving me my drinks. What’s next – am I going to have to go behind the counter and fry my own Filet-O-Fish? I worked fast food for about 5 weeks when I was 16. I gave someone fries with a fly in the cup. Trust me when I tell you that no one wants me behind that counter for any reason.
My husband will assure you that I am not the easiest person with whom to dine. My decision making skills at the counter or a table suddenly degenerate, and when asked, “And what will you have, ma’am?” I continue to look at the menu in a panic while the waiter looks at Gregg like, “What’s her deal? Is she deaf? Does she speak English? Should I come back in an hour?”
So today at McDonald’s, cup in hand and shoes on sticky floor, I looked at the vast drink options in front of me and froze. Diet Co…no, not that. Um, I could have lemonade, but fake lemonade is kind of watery and disappointing, like North Florida. But if I put a splash of orange soda in the lemonade, maybe that would make it okay. At this point, the line behind me was growing, so lemonade and orange it was. On my way to the table, I noticed the dispenser for Diet Sweet Tea.
I went to our table anyway, and as I set down my tray, I sighed. “What?”, asked Gregg.
“That’s the sound you make when you order something different than what I ordered, and when it comes, you want what I have instead of what you ordered. Is that it? Do you want my sandwich?”
“Of course not. I’m fine.” I ate my lunch quietly, thinking about how amazing it was that I have made it 46 years without being placed in some kind of group home with a caseworker who helps me make decisions, like homebuying, marriage, and chicken or beef.
Interestingly, I have given the big decisions in my life little thought. Quit school and getting married at 21? Sure. Have kids? Ok. Lets. I once quit a job and took another on my lunch hour. No biggie. And once a decision was made, I committed fully. Even though my first marriage was awful, I stayed because I had made a vow, and that was that. I was only freed of the marriage because of my husband’s desire to be married to a lesbian, but that’s a whole other story. My career choice, teaching, required the commitment of returning to school part time for eight years while working full-time, but I decided to do it after making dinner one night. My second marriage, this time to an awesome guy, was a decision made quickly (within 3 months of meeting), and has been the best decision I have ever made. I ain’t leavin’. (Notably, he is also true to his commitments and has tolerated me patiently for five years now.)
So the big decisions, I can make and stay committed to. Ask me what I want to drink, however, and I will labor over my choices, review recent research from wellness experts, Google “drink reviews”, and change my mind 9 times before filling the damn cup. And then, once the cup is filled, I will drink it, even if it tastes crappy. Like watery lemonade and orange drink.
I stared at my cup. Did I have to stay with this drink? Must all of my decisions be sacred vows? Did I stay married way too long to my ex because I was scared to make a change for the better, or was it simply a matter of stubbornness? My strong will has been both an advantage and a disadvantage in my life – helping me to stay with good things through difficult times, but also trapping me in shitty things that I am better running away from. Learning how to harness and temper this superpower could possibly be the greatest thing I accomplish in my life. And no better time to start than the present.
“I’m pouring out my drink.” I announce.
“I want Diet Sweet Tea. I made a poor decision, but I can admit it and I can do something to change it.”
“Um….okay?” Gregg looks at me like I’ve lost my mind.
That group home placement may happen after all.