Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Happiest Man in the World Works at McDonald's

A couple of weeks ago, I was running late-ish for work and wasn't hungry to start with and so I kind of just dashed out the door. Jason took over daycare dropoff duties, and I was on my way.

Except that, about two-thirds of the way to work, my persistent slightly-nauseous postsickness not-hungry turned into "my stomach is an empty chasm that threatens to eat my bones, my inner organs, and possibly the bones of the lady in the car in front of me if I don't eat in one minute or less" in about thirty-five seconds.

Not super far from my workplace is a McDonald's, so I sort of shrugged to myself and pulled in to go through the drive-thru.

I sat at the speaker for a moment before a man's voice came on the line, booming and bright:

"Good morning and welcome to McDonald's! What can I do to make your day wonderful this fine morning?"

I sat there with my mouth slightly open for a second, bowled over the faceless enthusiasm assaulting me this early. Prior to my first cup of coffee, I am essentially a shaved Yeti; I'm squinty and communicate primarily in growls and angry faces, but at least I'm not actively attacking people in the Arctic.

"Um. I... I'll have an Egg White Delight meal with a large coffee, please. Three creams, two sugars."

"Fantastic! That'll be (whatever the total was)! Please have your card ready at the very first window!"

Well, this guy is clearly on drugs, I thought to myself as I pulled forwards.

Greeting me at the first window was The Happiest Man in the World.

The Happiest Man in the World looks to be approximately in his sixties. He's got steely gray hair and is tall, but not unusually so, and fairly slim. His eyes are probably blue - in any case, they were light-colored enough to be a little startling. He wore his uniform like a badge of honor. The smile on his face was nothing short of euphoric, and he took my debit card as though I had just gifted him a puppy for Christmas.

"How's your day going this morning?" He asked me, all but bouncing on his toes. Sunlight seemed to be shining out around him like a halo somehow from inside the dark little window that employees have been known to call 'the Box'.

I've never had anyone working in 'the Box' speak to me with anything less than a monotone before.

"It's... going," I replied, trying to suppress the homicidal parts of me that tend to boil up when the sun isn't all the way up yet. He was just being friendly. It wasn't like he could somehow know that I don't become fully human until 1030.

Because I am Midwestern (and we are unfailingly polite no matter what), I was unable to stop myself from following that with, "How are you?"

You don't need to answer, it's just a formality. You really don't need to-

"Great! I've been given another wonderful day from the Lord to spend counting my blessings!"


I had asked, hadn't I?

"You may be the happiest person I have ever met," I replied, half expecting to see a bluebird alight upon his shoulders and burst into song.

I suddenly felt guilty for how strongly I cling to my I'm-Not-a-Morning-Person mantra. The kind of cynicism I was regarding him with? It wasn't fair. It's not his fault he's happy in the morning and I am basically the Cranky Seamonster from the depths of Angry Ocean.

All he did was be happy at me. He deserved better than what I had to give back.

"I just work with what God gives me," He replied, paused for a moment, and continued, "But then, don't we all?"

He handed me back my card and receipt, with no less bouncy cheer than when he began.

"You have a wonderful day, ma'am! Go and be blessed."

So... I went.

I think maybe I was even a little bit blessed.

I definitely felt more cheerful pulling into the parking lot, after all.

Maybe I'll be a morning person today, too, I thought, feeling suddenly a new sense of commitment.

Then I grunted amicably at the guys who get to work in the building next to us before I do and went inside to sit in blissful, total silence until I had finished my coffee.

Baby steps, people.

Usually I don't even acknowledge the guys who work at the building next door.

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