Holiday Hustle & Bustle, Fast Food, & My Last Nerve

When infertility counselors worry about those dealing with infertility during the holidays, their main concern is how we'll react to family asking a bunch of personal questions or seeing a lot of small children running around. I think just as big an issue is: Holiday shopping can get on your last nerve. Family during the holidays can get on your last nerve. Infertility can get on your last nerve. And the hormones you're taking make you feel like everything's on your last nerve. How many fricken last nerves do we have?! There are noises and crowds and pushing. And have you noticed that at this time of year, even the fast food drive-thru lines are longer? We're all hustling and bustling to comfort ourselves with comfort food (that usually makes your stomach uncomfortable twenty minutes later.)

We all know that the express line for any fast food joint is the one inside the restaurant. I'm probably as lazy as the next person, but there's yet to be a hamburger, chicken sandwich, or taco invented that I'm willing to be the thirtieth vehicle in the drive-thru for. Even if I ever considered it, the fact that I drive an old car whose automatic windows haven't worked since 2008, makes the whole drive-thru experience even less tempting.

As I drive up to the intercom, it's a process. Forget the fact that I'm a New Yorker living in North Carolina and have to mentally translate what the employee is saying from southern to northern before I answer  and then have to wait for them to translate my answer back into southern in their own head:

"Will y'all be wantin' some saaawce?"

(southern to northern translation):

"Do you guys want any sauce?" (Or the Brooklyn dialect: "Juguys wawnt any sawce?")

But, because of my window situation, I also have to take off my seat belt, unlock my door, crack it open and yell my responses around it.

Then when I roll forward to the window, I have to do the whole ritual all over again-- except the seat belt which is still undone-- while handing over my debit card in exchange for bags of food and cardboard cup holders... and then check my order and re-click my seatbelt before driving off.

The response by the eight cars behind me is very different in the two areas of the country. If I were back home, I would be experiencing what true New Yorkers call "multi-tasking": People beeping their horns, slapping the outside of their car doors through the open window in frustration, and yelling in my general direction:

"What's the hold-up, you stupid bastard?"

Then, as each driver takes a turn alerting the one behind them to the fact that I'm a female, they'd all amend their remarks to:

"What's the hold-up, you stupid bitch?"

Then the entire angry mob would strike up a camaraderie in their mutual hatred for me and yell  back and forth to each other:

"What's she doin' up there?!"

"Her credit card's probably no good!"

"Is she the idiot or is it the one workin' at the window?!"

In the South, there's none of that. I'm not sure exactly why. Either the slower pace has made people  oblivious to the fact that my transaction is taking way longer than it should, or church has taught them patience and not to stress dumb stuff, or they're mumbling to themselves but wouldn't dare yell it out, or they can hear that I'm not from here and are content in knowing that I'm one of the few in the line who's unarmed.

And so I avoid it all: The two strands of side-by-side drive thru lanes, each with twenty-nine cars in it, the person taking your order at the menu who's simultaneously taking someone else's money at the window; Berlitz school of south/north translation through a closed window or around an ajar door through an intercom; the disgruntled customer behind me turning the drive-thru into a drive-by...

I park what's left of my car and summon up enough energy to get out, walk into the place and  be greeted by the one employee who hasn't a thing to do: The only one in the whole place not handling the drive-thru. "Welcome... May I take your order?"... And my last nerve remains intact... For now anyway.

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