Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Problem or a Blessing? A Tale of Two Hamburgers

I am standing in line at a fast food counter at crowded Turnpike rest station because my kids are starving because our six hour drive is taking much much longer today.

No problem, I'm in no hurry, no deadline, no big deal, right?

I stand in line long enough to notice that one person who was taking orders was completely bilingual, and the other person taking orders seemed to lean on her to translate and explain. 

When it was our turn to order, the only register that was open was the 20ish guy struggling with English.

My daughter ordered for herself and then for my son. She's easy. He's difficult. His hamburger must be cheese-free and mayo-free and untouched by mustard or any vegetable. Zoe asked for her brother's burger to be made with ketchup only and the nice guy rang it up and handed me the receipt.

Nothing on the receipt said anything about a special order so I leaned in and asked in my awful Spanish if the burger was ketchup only. He smiled and said yes, yes, ketchup only.  I gave him the thumbs up, he gave me a thumbs up back.

Minutes later, our order was ready. I thanked him and spun away to get to the car, to get to the Turnpike, to get home.

A little voice inside me told me to check the burger before we got into the car. Nothing against my son, but he has this thing of losing his mind when things go wrong and I didn't want to deal with that on the 250 miles remaining in our trip.

With my back to the service counter, I put the bag down on a table and opened the burger. 

It was fat and full and heavy and had cheese, mayo, mustard, red onions, ketchup, tomato and lettuce.


 I didn't want to embarrass the poor guy -- he was having a hard enough day struggling with English and impatient people who might thing bilingual people are more of a curse than a blessing.

I threw away all the toppings and wiped the bun clean, then asked Zack if he could eat it.

 He shook his head and said, no, but don't worry, he doesn't need to eat it, he'll just eat the fries. 

No, I didn't pay $7 for fries and a Sprite. I had to bring the burger back.

The poor guy behind the counter asked with his face and his hands (but no words) "what happened" and I said "ketchup only?" and he nodded and took it from me.  I

hoped no one saw. I didn't want to get him in trouble.

Minutes later he called me back and handed me the right burger.

 Zack checked it and approved.

Fine, time to get back to the car and the rain and the rest of the trip.

As I was turning the car on, Zack reached into the bag to hand his sister her food. First her nuggets, then her fries.

Then something else.

HEY! THERE'S ANOTHER BURGER! He shouts from the back, and without me even asking, he adds, AND THIS ONE WAS KETCHUP ONLY! IT WAS THERE ALL ALONG!

All the sudden I felt very embarrassed for assuming my new fast food friend didn't understand me, and then I felt even worse for looking in the bag and expecting a problem instead of making room for an unexpected blessing.