“Since Little Bear Asked…”
A few days ago in Idyllwild, one of my fellow thru-hikers, ‘Little Bear,’ asked me a very sincere question.
“Rawhide, what do you think about while you are hiking?”
Being a good number of years older than Little Bear, I felt a certain responsibility to say something wise, since his query was a legitimate one, and my answer…well, hiking alone for hours & days on end I somewhat expected to be immersed in deep thoughts, illuminating introspection, and potentially earth-shattering moments of intellectual clarity.
I took a moment to collect my thoughts, and was amazed at the answer that began to come out of my mouth:
“Uhhhhh…well…that’s a really good question…ummmm…uhhhhhhh…”
I eventually took control of the intellectual stick & pulled myself out of my embarrassing nosedive. I did share what my mind wanders to naturally, and I’m sure it’s very similar from one person to the next:
Family & loved ones…old memories of good times as a child…old & not so old memories of bad times…food…things you wish you would have said…things you’re glad you never said…food…places you’ve traveled, and places you want to travel…my cat Pittsburgh…food…the generosity if my sponsors for this hike…the fact that I’m even on this adventure in the first place…God & His place in my life…food…people I’ve met on the hike…what it will be like when I finally reach Manning Park in Canada…why do my feet hurt so much…a nice long, warm shower with 3 gallons of soap…and of course, food.
But there’s also moments like this morning. This morning I must have occupied my mind for over 20 minutes with something very eye-opening, and it led to a very big decision. The topic, you ask?
McDonald’s, extra condiments, and becoming “That Guy.”
It all started out so innocently. I was thinking about food, specifically a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, no pickles, large fries, and a coke. I was craving one terribly. I’m not a big fast food eater (does In & Out count?), so I was surprised to find myself so caught up in mental Quarter Pounderville. But there I was. And it was vivid & explicit. My mind wandered…
I would approach the counter, and place my order:
“One Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal, no pickles, supersize it, Coke…and another Quarter Pounder with cheese, no pickles, large fries…no, not the meal, just by itself in addition to the first meal. And could I get two barbecue sauces & two ranch dressings with that?”
This is where I’m apparently in REM mode of food-thinking paradise, because I’m in deep.
The server answers back, in my food dream, that it will cost 50 cents, per sauce packet, if I wanted extra sauce.
Wait a second…this is MY food dream! 50 cents EACH?! No way!
I know where this came from. There’s a McDonald’s where I live that actually told me they were now charging an extra 25 cents per sauce packet, and I actually paid it. (why the price jumped to 50 cents in my own PCT food dream is anyone’s guess). I remember feeling like the 17 year old behind the counter just punched me in the nose & I stood there & asked for another, ‘please.’
Now, I understand the economy isn’t great, and money is tight. I get that. But 50 cents for extra ranch & BBQ sauce packets? I’ve been feeding nickels, dimes & dollars into Ray Kroc’s food franchise since the sign outside our local McDonalds said “100 served,” and Kroc still lived on his Santa Ynez estate (it was easy to tell which one it was: there was a ginormous flagpole, with the American flag on top, California state flag in the middle, and the flag with the Golden Arches right below). Certainly they wouldn’t charge someone with my McD’s history extra for SAUCE?
That’s when my inner Clint Eastwood came out, when Rawhide went on a fast food penny pinching roundup.
This travesty wouldn’t go on. Not with me! I would make a choice & stick to it!
My choice is this: if any server at any fast food restaurant informs me that there is an extra fee charged for sauce packets, I’m going to explain to them their option:
Either give me cash back immediately for the meal I just paid for (which is more than likely already prepared), and watch me walk to the competitor down the street and lose the $10 sale they had wrapped up…or give me the sauces I asked for, which more than likely cost them 12 cents tops, combined. Their choice.
How do ya like them apples, fast food sauce Nazis? I wear the pants, I want my sauce, or I walk. Simple!
So that was what I was thinking about for about 20 minutes today, Little Bear. Nothing too deep. But, it helped me come to a crossroads and figure out what happens next time a clerk asks me if it’s ok if they charge me extra for a packet of sauce.
Oh…and the REALLY sad part? I think I actually drooled when I was thinking about the burger.