I picked McDonalds.
I’m so stupid.
Of all the fast food places to choose from in Charleston, South Carolina, I decided in all my brilliance to choose McDonalds. It had to be one of the worst decisions I’d made this month, especially since there was a Chick-Fil-A right across the other side of street- also a Wendy’s, Sonics and so on…
Sighing, I scratched my one week old beard and shook my head as the monitor in front of me changed from a crisp looking hamburger to a chocolate frosty. I’d grown so sick of fast food this past week, but being a trucker and so, on the road often, eating unhealthy was all part of the job. Right now at this moment, I’d kill for my wife’s sautéed salmon and vegetables. She always had a nice meal waiting for me whenever I was away for a week or two. Good food, a welcome home hug from my wife and son…
Instantly I forced my body to shake and my mind to come back to the senses. God I wanted to be home. But I still had hours to go, heading north to Virginia. It had been a long week unloading shipments and I hadn’t even had time to Facetime my boy. He turned seven while I was away.
While on the road I had been listening a CD of the Rolling Stones greatest hits. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, came to mind.
“Ugh,” I unconsciously muttered. “I need to quit this job.” Then, speaking up a little louder as I wait in line I say, “I shouldn’t have chosen McDonalds.”
There was a lady standing behind me, a little bigger in size, with a blue shirt on and pink highlighted hair and a nose piercing. I heard her chuckle behind me. Then I heard a boy.
“I want apple pie mom! Mom I want an apple pie!”
I smiled at the big girl, but as I took a causal glance at the skinny woman on her cell-phone and loud son behind her, I frowned. The boy had a spiderman shirt on, a gameboy in his hand and a loud mouth.
“Mom. Mom. Mooooom!” I heard the kid yell.
Why did I walk in? Why was I standing in line? Well I had to use the bathroom, see. And McDonalds was on the right side of the street so it just seemed like the easiest choice. I hadn’t thought about my options and now regretted it dearly. What did I want to eat? A McDouble? I was pretty hungry, but my wife’s voice rang in my memory telling me that’s not a good source of nutrients.
“MOM!” The kid shouted so loudly, I glanced over my shoulder again. The mother, who apparently thought her phone call was more important, just ignored him. But, still, the shriek was way too loud, almost busted my eardrums.
Two people stood in front of me, giving their order. A young teenage girl, the sweet kind of looking girl that you hoped your son would be with when he got older, meekly typed in information on the computer screen. It had to be her first day. Besides her, a large guy in a tie who was obviously the manager, called out an order number. If the manager was helping the front line, and with lunch rush, they must be understaffed today. I felt for them-
“Mom! I want an apple pie I want an apple pie I want an apple pie!”
The lady behind me sighed, and I looked behind again. The boy had his hand on his mother’s skirt, literally dragging himself, knees on the floor. His face was red and angry and pouty and the bright colors flashed off his gameboy screen.
“I want an apple PIE!” he yelled loudly, letting it ring throughout the restaurant.
“HEY!” I shouted. I couldn’t take it. Not today. “You know, a quick spanking and that boy would listen to you!”
Suddenly, the entire establishment went quiet and I found my anger subdued. Oh no, I shouldn’t have said anything. The obnoxious boy looked like he was about to cry and the mother gave me the coldest look. She muttered something on the phone and then hung up.
“How dare you tell me how to raise my child. Why don’t you mind your own business?” She told me.
“I want an apple pie!” the kid yelled again.
But she ignored him. The lady with pink hair that stood between us seemed incredibly uncomfortable and took a step to the side so that the mother and I could face each other one on one. I didn’t want a fight, but the attitude of this woman ticked me off.
“Hey I got a kid, and he treats me with a lot more respect-”
“Excuse me sir,” the manager interrupted, and cautiously grabbed my shoulder. I’m not going to hurt anyone, I was just trying to- “If you’re going to cause any more disturbance, then you’re going to have to leave.”
My expression must have shown my disbelief, because he didn’t look me in the eye.
“Yeah and where do you get the nerve!?” the mother shouted.
“Alright that’s enou-” the manager tried to intervene once more when the child yelled again.
“I WANT A &@#% APPLE PIE!”
At that moment, the restaurant went silent again. The mother grabbed the boy’s mouth and told him how she was going to get an apple pie for him and stay quiet. Besides that, he got off free. Slowly, people started talking again. The manager gave me a gentle nudge and a smile, encouraging me to order. I noticed the big lady with pink hair started to sweat, as though she wanted to say something to me but didn’t.
Suddenly, I realized I was next in line. The young teenage girl looked at me with a nervous expression but smiled in sympathy. As I approached, the manager came up to his employee and said as he gestured to me, “You throw in an extra medium fry for this gentlemen okay?”
The girl, whose name tag read ‘Mitchell’, nodded.
That’s not good enough! That’s not the point of me yelling at the mother and her brat! Why was no one saying anything? It’s not my place. But it’s been a long day, and to hear a spoiled kid cry over something like that seemed to unfair. The injustice. The disrespect. God, I just wanted to be home. And I don’t get to be home, and be there for my son every day and help raise our child with my wife-
“Sir? Can I take your order?” the young girl asked with that same smile, and apologetic eyes.
“Uh… yeah, okay. I think I’m gonna have a number two…” My head started to hurt.
“MOM! I want an apple pie!” The kid screamed again and I winced, and shut my eyes.
I’m just going to order. Get myself something to eat, and listen to the Rolling Stones all the way back home…
And then… suddenly…
It was like this dark setting brightened up. Because I remembered a little something from Mick Jagger. “Apple pie,” I responded with the idea, as though everything now made sense. I put on my best smile to the cashier. “Apple pie. I feel like an apple pie, Mitchell. How many do you have?”
The girl blinked in response.
“Um… how many, sir?” she quickly checked in her computer. “Uh, until the next shipment, we have twenty three apple pies left in-”
“Perfect!” I replied with a grin. “My name is Charlie, I won’t do sir. And I’ll take them all. All of them.”
“Y-yes sir, I mean Charlie. We’ll put the order in for you.” After she typed it up and gave me the price of $33.60 she said, “And you’ll be getting a medium fry with that.”
I nodded and walked away to wait for my food. I looked over at the mother and her child, who looked mortified and ready to kill. I grinned at her. In a few moments, I’ll have a large McDonalds bag filled with Apple Pies, which I could munch on the entire way home, give a few to the son and maybe one for the wife if she wanted it.
And I’ll be cheering the whole way.
Sometimes, in a world that’s so upside down … it feels nice to win one.
This story was actually based on a true story I heard about from a friend. I looked up it and you can probably find article if you search for “Apple Pie story burger king”. Apparently there was some guy who got fed up with this screaming kid and a mother who wouldn’t say anything while the child just screamed for apple pie. He tried to say something but the mother got angry with him instead. So in response, the man bought every apple pie at the restaurant.
All other settings, situations and names are purely fiction. But I loved the news article and figured I’d write a good take on it. xD