My eighty-three year old mom doesn’t get out much. Literally. She does great in her own home with everything adapted to suit her needs so she can happily putter, craft, cook and do whatever she wants to do in comfort. Going out is a pretty big deal and she doesn’t relish it for various physically inconvenient reasons, but we pack up her walker and her other accessories once in a while when we really have to go somewhere whether she likes it or not. She’s not unsociable by any means, and she usually has fun while she’s out, but understandably these activities get to be more and more like work as we get older and staying home is so much easier!
Today we have appointments in the city and these trips always include lunch. Usually we stop and go in somewhere, but after the active morning mom asks if we could just eat in the car and I’m on board with that. I have a couple of other stops to make anyway – for which she has already planned to sit and wait in the car – and I figure we can grab the food, park outside one of the stores and eat and then I’ll go in and take care of business.
So we decide on the McDonalds drive thru and here’s how it goes …
She wants a Big Mac and fries. I anticipate that she will also want milk because she always drinks milk with her lunch at home and always orders milk with her lunch in restaurants, but when I ask her if she wants milk she hems and haws and just as we pull up to the speaker and a lady starts talking to us – I hate it when people in my car aren’t ready to order when I get to the speaker! – mom says “oh, just water”. I tell her the meal comes with a drink anyway and all she wants is water? She decides to go ahead and have the milk.
So I’m ordering at the speaker and I ask for a Big Mac meal with milk. She doesn’t hear me say “meal” so while I’m trying to talk to the speaker and listen to the lady, mom’s reminding me in the background “with chips!”
I’m trying to answer the lady asking me what kind of milk mom wants, white or chocolate, and as I’m saying “white” mom says “white” and then, adamantly, “chips!” while I’m waving her off behind me so I can hear the lady through the speaker.
Then the lady asks me if there’s anything else, and I’m trying to order my own meal and mom is still going “with chips!!”
Finally when I’m done, I turn to mom (calmly , of course) and I’m like: “I asked for the meal, that means it comes with fries.”
Mom: “I didn’t hear you say ‘meal’. I don’t know how these things work.”
So we pull ahead to pay and mom is buying lunch. I grab her big black twenty-something pocket purse from the back seat (she wanted a new one which I imported from North Vancouver for her in a lovely updated color, style, and size that she was happy with but after several months it’s still sitting brand new in her living room and we’re still hauling this mini suitcase around).
I get the money out of her wallet and then hand it to her along with her big purse (she’s already got my nice compact purse in her lap).
I pay at the window and we’re chat-laughing with the lady while she gets the change. I hand mom her change and she’s taking her time putting it away into specific compartments while she’s chatting and I tell her she needs to take it up a notch because as soon as we get up to the next window they’re going to throw the bag at us while we drive past and she won’t be ready.
She’s still fussing with her wallet and tells me again that she doesn’t know how these things work. I say well you’re in the seat that has to be ready for the bag so hurry up. Now she’s trying to get everything together in her lap while she’s laughing.
Finally when we get to the pick up window she’s ready for me to put her purse in the back seat. I take the first bag from the window lady and hand it to mom and tell her now it’s her job to look inside fast and make sure we got what we ordered, because there’s no third window up ahead and there’s another bag coming out right away.
She’s ready to slap me upside of the head and she’s huffing and scrambling to open the bag and figure out what’s in there. She starts listing it off and I’m already driving away with the other bag in my lap, laughing at her.
Me: “By the way, you don’t pull up to a burger joint these days and ask for chips. They don’t know what the hell you mean. If you’re at a Fish & Chips place, that’s OK, they know. But here, they don’t know.”
Mom: “They don’t call them chips anymore?”
Me: “No, they’re fries mom. They’ve been fries for a long time now.”
As we’re leaving the parking lot she starts getting concerned about how she’s going to hold all this in her lap and eat her meal while I’m driving.
“We’re stopping, mom. We’ll eat when we stop.”
“Oh, that’s right”, she says, “we’re stopping at the store.”
Yup, we’re stopping at the store … right before I pee my pants …