I woke up with a pleasant start. I hadn’t expected to fall asleep in my contorted positions in the front seat of the Suburban. With the summer heat, I hadn’t even had a sweatshirt to fold as a pillow. But when I woke up about half way through our 12 hour drive, I felt refreshed and immediately informed my long-suffering driver of my desire for a hamburger and French fries. Fortunately, we had just entered Reno, Nevada.
Hardly a mile later, my driver had pulled into a Jack in the Box parking lot. Since he had been driving for hours, I let him choose the hamburger joint. He likes the Jack in the Box (JITB) spicy chicken sandwich, which he tends to stop and get when he is on solitary outings, but I hadn’t been to a JITB for a few years.
Our mid afternoon arrival meant that there were a group of lonely employees waiting anxiously for customers to serve. They were smiling attentively as soon as we stepped in the door. I asked my driver for his recommendation for my lunch. We made agreements about dividing the French fries and onion rings, then stepped forward together to order. For some reason, I couldn’t remember that name of the bacon cheeseburger he had told me, so I turned to my driver and inquired again. The cashier seemed to want to hear it from my own mouth before entering the order, so I stumbled through the name. Feeling quite accomplished at having communicated that, I was set back to confusion when I was asked if I wanted a combo meal – and what size?. Once again, fast-food-ordering-tutoring began by my patient driver and the obviously entertained JITB cashier.
Now, it was my turn to ask questions. “Does Dr. Pepper have caffeine in it?” I don’t drink soda very often, especially caffeinated concoctions, since the stimulant is overly effective on me. However, I would be needed to help with the driving some after lunch. I had barely made it through 30 minutes of driving earlier in the morning without being lulled to sleep. I can fall asleep fine in the driver’s seat, just not necessarily stay asleep in the car.
I wandered over to fill my medium cup while my driver finished ordering and paying. The lids were all manner of sizes, but there was no label saying “medium,” just every thing else from “Quencher” to “small.” I went back to the counter for guidance, but they thought I was joking. So, I returned to the stacks of lids and attempted to visually compare the rim of my cup to the lids without touching any of them. As I progressed through the comparison, I realized the mental conflict of trying not to touch those lids that were probably already touched by many unknown fingers. My driver showed up and suggested the “large” lid. It fit, and I chose to put the other concerns out of my mind.
I couldn’t leave the beverage counter yet, though, because I needed a straw. All I could see were skinny little stir sticks. As I was resigning myself to extreme sucking force, causing my inner cheeks to adhere to one another while I slurped, I spotted the straws back behind the lid dispensers. Phew!
The straw was triumphantly placed in the straw hole and I took a celebratory draught, leading me to exclaim, “That’s cold!” It was not so much surprise as delight, as I was fully aware I had put ice in my cup. However, my tone of voice echoed more like surprise to the other few patrons sitting at the window tables, and a couple of eyebrows raised.
My driver led me to a table with the bag of food, then went back to the beverage counter for his drink. When he rejoined me at the table, he was laughing quietly. “People are going to think you’ve never been out to a restaurant and that I keep you locked up at home!” Thinking of all the exotic places he has taken me around the world, laughter bubbled out of me and again echoed through the restaurant. “Well, at least they will think I am a happy captive,” I tried to say with less echo effect. Then, I took a bite of onion ring and exclaimed, probably a little too loudly, “That’s hot!”