The Happy-Mealer

The human brain is comprised of billions of brain cells, or neurons.   These cells interconnected in a complex way that we can barely begin to understand.  They constantly send and receive the electrochemical signals that control how we breathe, how we move, and how we think.

Sometimes I wonder:  what would all these electrochemical signals sound like, if we could hear them?

When I see smart people, aware of their surroundings, alert and responsive,  I imagine their neurons firing off quickly, like a high-speed metronome:    Tick-tick-tick, tick-tick-tick.   That’s what they’d sound like, as the electrical signals spark across their synapses.

Then you get slower people, with dull eyes, and slack jaws, who aren’t quite all there.  And I imagine their neurons firing slightly slower.   Tick….tick….tick.   Tick….tick….tick.

And then you get the Happy Mealers.

And they’re in a whole category all by themselves.

What in God’s name, is a Happy-Mealer, you might ask?

Well, let me explain.

Happy Mealers are the morons who frequent fast-food establishments everywhere, often with one or more kids in tow,  who hold up the line and make our lives miserable.

Not that there’s anything wrong with parents taking their kids to McDonald’s or Burger King.

But Happy-Mealers are kind of “Special”.

You see, these unfortunate souls are “Burger-Challenged”.    They might be otherwise normal productive members of our society.   But as soon as they enter a restaurant, they lose all cognitive abilities.

They become a few fries short of a Happy Meal, so to speak.

(Hence the name).

I was stuck behind one of these at a local Burger King recently.

I was in a rush to get a few quick burgers.   My neurons were going: Tick-tick-tick.  Friar’s hungry.  Must order food. Tick-tick-tick.

But when I approached the counter, and I saw the spherical-shaped woman ahead of me, I knew I was screwed.

Because she was smiling in confusion and pondering the menu.

That’s how you detect them.

You see, Happy Mealers get CONFUSED at menus.   They might have been to the same fast-food joint dozens of times, but their poor neurons can’t remember this.

It’s like there’s no tribal knowledge, or recall of what Burger King is.  Or what they sell,  Or what a hamburger even is.

They might as well be reading the menu for the first time ever, in a foreign language.

I could almost hear the Happy-Mealer’s neurons reluctantly fire (Tick…(pause)…Tick) as she asked:

“Uhhh……Let’s see…..Uhhhh……I’ll have the cheeseburger meal?    Do you sell…COKE?”

Tick…(pause)…tick.

In typical Happy-Mealer fashion, she had her litter with her.   The Lesser-Primates were tugging at her sweat pants, nagging at her.

“Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!…”

This only confused her even more, and she continued to ponder:

“Uhhhh……Uhhhh…..What about the kids meal combo….do you have…CHEESEBURGERS?   Uhhhhhh…..What kind of toys are there?    What is a mustard?   French…FRIES? ”

Lady, did it ever occur to you to what you want to eat BEFORE coming up to the counter?

(No, of course not.   That’s against the Happy-Mealer Rules.)

The teeny-bopper cashier wasn’t much help.   Not exactly a Rocket Scientist, she was.   Her own neurons were having a hard enough time dealing with the situation.

The Ritalin-Children continued their Mummy-Mummy Assault.

Meanwhile, I was starving, and ready to explode.

Tick-tick-tick.  Friar wants FOOD, NOW. Tick-tick-tick.

At this point, the Happy-Mealer attempted to place multiple food orders.    Each of them difficult, of course.

(Happy-Mealer By-Law  #102(b) dictates:  GOD FORBID, should your little darlings eat something directly off the menu.   No, you must cater to their every minor preference, and make the food order as COMPLICATED AS POSSIBLE).

Tick…(pause)….Tick.

“Uhhhhh…I’ll have a Hamburger Kids Meal with juice, no, not juice, but orange.   But with two-thirds ice.  Uhhh….And with half a pickle.     Uhhh….. what kid of COKE do you sell?   Is it carbonated?    I’ll have a water, no make that a coke with half-ice.   Uhhhh….And a cheese…..Uhhhh….No, wait…..What kind of restaurant is this again?”

(“Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!”)

Several torturous minutes passed like this, with repeated attempts to place an order, only to be aborted, and re-started.   Again, and again.

At that point, the Rocket Scientist chimed in (tick…tick…tick) :

“What kind of toy do you want with the kids meals? ”

UHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…”.

Tick…(pause)….Tick………..Tick….KACHUNK!

(Houston, we have a problem).

The Happy Mealer couldn’t process this additional information.    Her thought process ground to a halt.

UHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…”.

The Happy-Mealer and the Rocket-Scientist stood facing each other, motionless, not saying anything.

Time stood still.

And the Universe screamed in pain.

After what seemed like an eternity, I detected a faint KACHUNK.

Suddeny, the rift in space-time was broken, and the Happy Mealer resumed:

“Uhhh……Let’s see…..Uhhhh……I’ll have the cheeseburger meal?    Do you sell…COKE?”

(ARRGHHHH!)

Screaming, I ran from the store.

But not before pulling Friar’s Patented Fast-Food Trick #1.

You see, burger joints tend to give preference to lazy customers who won’t get off their arse and walk.

So I got into my car, and went through drive-through.

They took my order instantly.

And within minutes, I had a bag of greasy fast-food, which I promptly brought back into the store, and started eating.

Meanwhile, the Happy Mealer (I kid you not) was STILL PLACING HER FOOD ORDER!

(Euthanasia, at this point, should have been recommended).

She glanced my way, puzzled and somewhat annoyed.   How come I had my food before she did?

Well, it helps if you can read and write.

Oh, and also, if your IQ is greater than double-digits.

But don’t’ feel too bad for her.

She has a great career ahead of her, as a Lottery Bat.

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25 Comments on “The Happy-Mealer”

  1. Davina Says:

    Hi Friar. I hear ya…. but hey, if you were A) suffering from low blood sugar and B) had 3 screaming kids, your neurons might stop firing too! I don’t like waiting in lines either. It’s a 2-way street though. I’ve worked behind the counter… serving donuts. Picture a long line of people at morning rush hour and being faced with someone who wants a dozen donuts, who spends what seems like five minutes per donut trying to decide. Painful! Been in a donut store lately? I dare ya 🙂

  2. Friar Says:

    @Davina

    Oh, low-blood sugar was not an excuse. This woman was seriously Burger-Challenged.

    Heh heh. Though we have a Timmy Ho’s right in down, so I know all about those Donut-Morons.

    They’ll stand in line for 10 minutes, right in front of the display showing all the flavors.

    And when it’s finally their turn, they’ll go blank.

    “Ummmm….I’ll have a dozen DO-NUTS…..One chocolate DO-NUT…..One strawberry DO-NUT. No, wait..Uhhhh…..Make it a Raspberrry DO-NUT. Uhhhhhhh…..how many is that so far? I’d like to order more DO-NUTS……

    (I wonder if it must be something in the towns drinking water…)

  3. Brett Legree Says:

    Are you sure this didn’t happen at Harvey’s?

    🙂

  4. Evelyn Lim Says:

    I don’t enjoy waiting in queues either and am totally with you in your experience. I may have my kids in tow but I tend to like to decide quickly! It’s a fast food restaurant and not a fine dining experience. So there is no need to take time to ponder over the menu!

    But yes…I’ve met a couple of Happy Mealers….I have to practice absolute patience! Tick…pause…tick…pause….tick….pause….


  5. The statement Friar wants food now reminds me of a line from the Jim Henson movie The Frog Prince. It was the first time the Sweetums was introduced as a muppet character. He was running around slamming a big club down saying “Sweetums want froggie NOW!” I envisioned you runnning amuck in the burger joint, viking axe held aloft “Friar want food NOW!”

    BTW, I am with you on this. I always stand back and pick my items first (and insisted my children do the same) BEFORE we went up to the counter. This would always throw the Rocket Scientists behind the counter off, because they would keep inviting me up to place my order. Hellooo…I don’t know what I want yet. Sigh.


  6. Davina,
    My first job was at Dunkin donuts and I worked there for three years as a kid. I have lived through the blank donut confused look thing too many times to count. I think brains stop working when exposed to that much visual sugar.

    Friar,
    My oldest son was a manager for Mc. Donalds as his first job- worked his way up by the fact that he didn’t run out screaming I think- He has many similiar stories. I for one try to stay out. I am afraid it might be contagous.

  7. veredd Says:

    Haha. You are delightfully non-PC. But I’m sure you know that.

    Smart people do have very low tolerance for err slower people.

  8. Friar Says:

    @Brett

    No…this was the Happy-Mealer for Burger King. The Harvey’s one was different. (I think there’s one assigned to every store). 😉

    @Evelyn
    Sigh. I deal with it by making sure I have a newspaper or something to read when standing in line.

    Happy-Mealers are deceptive. There might only be one person in line ahead of you, but it might turn out to be the equivalent of eight.

    @Urban
    Well, give me a few more minutes I would have taken out the Viking axe and started to go berserk. (Lucky the Drive-Thru was open).

    @Wendi
    Hah! I worked at McD’s. (Though mainly in the kitchen). Fortunately I didnt’ have to deal with the Happy-Mealers at the front counter.

    McD’s was a good Life Lesson.

    It ‘Built Character’. 😉

    @Veredd
    Yes, I thrive on Political-Incorrectness. 🙂

    Though Happy-Mealers aren’t necessarily slow in everyday life. They might be fine at home and at the office. It’s just when they entire a restaurant, that they become morons.

  9. Mania Says:

    The Drive Thru is always faster, except during the mornings when everyone is ordering a coffee and muffin on their way to work. The car line up can be quite long.

    Occasionally, I cycled through a Drive Thru, because I didn’t want to leave my very expensive bike outside a fast food joint, waiting for a Happy Mealer to place his/her order. I discovered that my bike isn’t heavy enough to trigger the intercom. Usually, I just cycle up to the window, I knock on it, and place my simple order (no drinks, I can’t cycle with one hand on the handlebars).

    Heaven forbid, if a Happy Mealer tried to use the Drive Thru. Did you ever wonder why they don’t use the service? I’d like to see your cartoon version of a Happy Mealer in a Drive Thru.

  10. Amy Derby Says:

    Friar, you have no idea how hard this made me laugh. I worked at a McDonald’s once, for about a week before I got fired for telling a customer to please make up her damn mind.

    I’m very grateful that I no longer eat fast food. Forget the health benefits. Think of the sanity it saves me. 🙂

  11. Friar Says:

    @Mania

    I think a Happy-Mealer through drive-through is asking to get rammed!! (Don’t even get me started on the subject!) 🙂

    @Amy
    I’m kinda addicted to fast food. Our local burger joint is especially “Burger Challenged” (Both by the staff, and the customers).

    Every time I go there, I swear I’m never coming back. But then, I always do. 😦

  12. Amy Derby Says:

    Friar, I feel like that about our video store. They’re such morons there and so completely clueless — as in, no one wants to hear you all share stories about who you’ve screwed and how many tattoos she had — that I always say I’ll never go back. I got netflix, thinking I would stop going. I started downloading movies, thinking I would stop going. (I’m fairly scared I’ll murder someone there one day.) Yes still I go. I suck.

  13. Amy Derby Says:

    P.S. the tattoo stories would be ok except for the fact that out of 5 or so of them, no one knows how to scan in a movie or use the register :-\

  14. Friar Says:

    @Amy

    Our video store is so much more tame, compared to yours. It’s run by a nice Asian couple. No tatoos or stupid stories.

    The only problem is, the videos are arranged in chronological order (the year the movie came out). Instead of alphabetically.

    So GOOD LUCK trying to find a movie on your own. 😉

  15. Amy Derby Says:

    WHAT?! That’s madness. Even if I was in the movie, I wouldn’t remember the year it came out.

  16. Friar Says:

    @Amy

    Heh heh heh.

    That’s just one more example of typical Splat Creek. 😉

  17. Steph Says:

    Holy moly, I was grinding my teeth just reading this post! But also laughing at the cartoon (the typical overweight woman with the short hair you’ve written about) and at you. Yes, I said at you. You’re a damn funny guy!! We’ve done that, too, gone through the drive-thru because it’s quicker than waiting in line. And like Panther, I always let people ahead of me until I decide what I want. Mind you, when you’re vegetarian, there’s not much to deliberate over. You either go with combo 11 at BK or the grilled cheese happy meal at McDonald’s! When we go at all, that is. We pretty much reserve the experience for trips now.

  18. Friar Says:

    @Steph

    Yes, the Happy Mealer Mom I drew is a future “Polyester Lady”. 🙂

    Brett and I were stuck behind a SENIOR Happy Mealer last week at Harvey’s. That’s even worse, you combine all the annoyance of Happy Mealers, with the slow-pokiness of Gray-Heads. (I was ready to blow a gasket….just ask Brett).

    And of course, these morons are always in FRONT OF YOU. (Because as soon as it’s your turn and you’re served, there’s nobody else in line).

    Actually, I wonder if eating at McD’s and Burger King isn’t too bad for vegetarians. (I mean…how much ACTUAL MEAT is in those burgers?) 🙂

  19. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    OMG I was laughing so hard for this one. I don’t have the “mummy mummy” thing going on, but I often can’t decide what I want. How is this possible when I managed at several fast food joints in my college days? Where did my vast burger knowledge go?

    I guess I don’t go too often, so when I go, I’m probably starved, and I’m the lady in a daze… “Ooh, that sounds good… no that… um, can I get onion rings instead of fries? I’ll have a medium… no a large diet Coke… and please, no pickles… and on the kid’s fries, no salt, okay?” If I have time standing in line beforehand I can be okay, but heaven forbid I get to the front of the line with no wait. Then I’m smiling and apologetic, but a definite burger-dope.

    Yep. That’s me. So to spare others, I go through drive-through. Just so I won’t annoy other burger patrons. They don’t know I’m indecisive if I’m inside the car—they assume it’s the headset people. 😀

    I’d drive you nuts at a real restaurant. I want time to talk, peruse the menu, talk again, and forget to get ready to order. Then when I am finally ready, I still have to eeny-meeny-miny-moe. Because I’m never ready.

    Please, Ghost of Burgers Future, tell me I am not doomed to be a future Polyester Lady! Tell me that I can change!

    (Davina—I’m that bad in doughnut shops, too.)

    Uh, oh.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    P.S. Panther—I LOVED that movie! I can still sing every song. We had the record when I was a kid and I wore it out. I think it’s still around, somewhere.

  20. Karen JL Says:

    It’s times like that I wish I had a car to go through the drive-thru.

    But alas, all I have is heavy sighing and nasty stares. 😉

    Good one Friar.

  21. Rita Says:

    Friar,
    When I was a teenager, back when the dinosaurs roamed, and the “golden arches” were still on double digits, we got a McD’s in our town. I think this was the menu: Big Mac, Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Fries, Soda, Shakes. That was it. Now you can get a Waldorf Salad, no nuts, bleu cheese on it or off, with or without onions…
    To me THAT’S the problem. Fast Food Restauants are little more than diners without the charm – and “No Substitutions Please” written on the menu! You’ve got to admit, these Fast Food joint have gone a tad overboard in their selections! (I hope you have to take little nieces and nephews into a McD’s one day – just 3 or 4 of them!)

    🙂

    Rita

  22. Friar Says:

    @Kelly
    Oh, dear! I didn’t realize you got so flustered in fast-food joints 🙂

    Well, at least you have the sense to retreat and go through drive-thru!

    (PS. I think you’re safe from being a Polyester Lady….!). You dress too well, and you’re too sharp-witted for that!

    @Karen
    It’s also very therapeutic to draw cartoons of them! (I’d love to see what you’d come up with!)

    @Rita
    HAHAHAH! You’re right. Waldorf Salad, and all that crap!

    I’m just SLIGHTLY younger than you, so yes, I remember McD’s back in the old days.

    I worked at McD’s in 1980-81 and it was considered a “big deal” when the McChicken came out.

    And they didn’t have those HAPPY MEALS with all the multiples choices. McD’s actually discouraged “special orders”, usually you got what they gave you, right off the menu.

    Now people want Big Macs with the sesame seeds picked off the left half of the bun.

    Geezus Christ…just EAT the SANDWICH! This is fast-food, not Haute Cuisine!

  23. Friar Says:

    @Rita

    PS. I have yet to take my nephews to McD’s.

    Not likely to happen anytime soon.

    (They don’t even have one where I live!).

    Thank God.

  24. Kelly Says:

    Oh, no. Now the next time I go, I’ll have to decide if I was the sesame seeds picked off the left or the right half of the bun.

    Thanks a lot, Friar! 😦

  25. Friar Says:

    @Kelly

    When I worked at McD’s, that was a trick we played on new recruits. We told them that someone wanted a quarter pounder with no sesame seeds…and they’d spend 10 minutes trying to pick them off.

    I admit, it happened to me once (I was such a young TRUSTING Friar!) 🙂


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