So I Met this Guy at McDonald’s Today. . .

Disclaimer: m&m McFlurries never actually look like this.

It was during one of those lulls where barely any customers show up. These lulls are becoming increasingly rare nowadays, now that the weather’s decent and every other person wants ice cream, so these lulls are something I’ve learned to cherish. During one of these periods I was working at the front counter, trying to steal m&ms without the manager/cameras see me doing so. Suddenly the door opened and a man walked in. 

He was an old man; not old enough that you’d be afraid he’d collapse at any moment, but old enough so you could look at him and say, “Yep, that guy definitely still reads the newspaper.” 

(Only old people still read newspapers, in case you missed my meaning. Any evidence to the contrary will be promptly ignored.)

So I stopped trying to steal m&ms and went up to the register. “Hi, how can I help you?” I asked, all pleasant and whatnot.

Now in my experience old men tend to buy the same things: either a) coffee, b) ice cream, or c) something off the dollar menu. They will occasionally get tea, and sometimes they will get one of the bigger, more expensive sandwiches, but they’ll always come equipped with a coupon or three if that’s the case. This man did not ask for any of those things. 

Instead he said to me, “So Matt, what’s the plan?” 

(I’m always a bit taken back when people say my name as if they know me personally. I always have to take a second to think, “Wait, do I know this person? Oh, he’s just reading my name-tag.”)

Because I am not an all-knowing God of any sort, (though I could understand why someone would think otherwise) I had no idea what he was talking about. So I asked what he meant, and he clarified: “What do you want to do your life?”

He asked if I had plans for the future and if I’ve been getting good grades in school. And I made the mistake of responding with an “I don’t know,” as casually as if he’d asked me what I wanted for dinner

Just for some background information: I do think about my future, constantly. Stuff like college and potential careers are almost always on mind, and it doesn’t help that I’m reminded of it every single day of my life by adults who for some reason think I’ll forget. (“College is important, Matt.” “Oh, it is? Thanks for the pep talk, Dad.”) 

The thing is, I don’t actually know for sure what I want to be. I’d like to pursue a career in writing, and I’d also like to pursue a career in medicine, and I feel like the two areas don’t mix too well. So I applied for a volunteer program at a nearby hospital this summer, just to get glimpse of sorts on how things are, and I’m joining my school’s newspaper club next year, if that helps. Hopefully I’ll discover that I hate one of those things and love the other. That would make my choices in life so much easier.

(Also, my school apparently has a newspaper. Must not be a very good one, considering I’ve been there for three years and am only just finding out about it now.)

But I’m not all that cool with sharing this information to anyone who just happens to walk into McDonalds, so I answered with a simple “I don’t know” in the hopes that it would make the conversation go by faster. It did not.

“You don’t know?!” He proceeded to rant about how the public education system is America’s greatest failure, and how he’d asked a whole bunch of the other employees at this Mcdonalds the same question, and “None of them had a clue!” 

Three thoughts crossed my mind as he said this, the first being that really? Who the hell goes around asking McDonald’s workers what they want to do with their lives? The second was how is that any of his business? And the third one was: I’m so going to blog about this guy when I get home.

I didn’t voice any of these thoughts. Instead I just sort of nodded politely as he gave me advice on how to figure out my future, which consisted entirely of doing things I’ve already done. I mostly just smiled and nodded and tried very hard not to roll my eyes. I used to have a serious eye-rolling problem, you know. Like, even when I wasn’t annoyed I’d accidentally roll them anyway, which would lead to conflicts like this:

“Hi Matt, how’s it going?”

*rolls eyes*

“Well excuse me!” *throws fist* 

I managed to avoid rolling my eyes, thank God, and eventually he managed to finally get around to actually ordering his food, which I got for him as quickly as possible. Then I spent the rest of shift wondering about what he said. Not the parts about my future and everything, but about how he apparently asked multiple people at this specific restaurant what they wanted to do with their lives. Why this restaurant? Why does he even care? And does he go through the drive-thru and pull the same sort of shit on those kids too? 

I started to come up with possible reasons for why he’d do this. Maybe he didn’t pay enough attention to his future when he was my age and now regrets it. Maybe he had a child at one point whose life went off the deep end, and he blames himself for not pushing said offspring onto a better path.

Or perhaps he’s just one of those people who thrive off making others uncomfortable. I know plenty of those.

____

[UPDATE: I almost forgot. Any high school seniors who happen to be reading this, please check out this post. Why? Because I said so, that’s why.]

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17 Replies to “So I Met this Guy at McDonald’s Today. . .”

  1. Wow.
    There’s not a whole lot more I can say about this. Only that I absolutely freak out when people ask me this question and can’t think clearly. I end up mumbling something I hope sounds like I may know what I’m doing.
    Also, I’m very introverted, anyway…

    1. Yeah, it’s a tough question, yet people seem to always expect a simple answer. I don’t think anyone truly knows what they’re doing at this when it comes to college and their future and whatnot. Some just manage to fake it better than others.

      1. I’m 23. You’d think I’d know how to fake it better by now, though… Maybe I’m supposed to do that fake it until you make it schtuff Elsa was singing about. No, wait. That’s conceal, don’t feel.

      2. Wait, you’re twenty-three? *mind explodes* Well I feel stupid. Though this does explain why you never do the TCWT chains. And it does explain that aura of sophistication you have.

        Fake it until you make it, eh? I like that plan. Is Elsa from the movie Frozen? Because I confess I’ve never actually seen Frozen. Does that make me a bad person?

      3. *laughs* You aren’t the first to be completely blind-sided by that. And, yes, that would be the explanation. I’d love to do the TCWT chains, but alas, age was not my friend in this instance.
        …I have an aura of sophistication? Hmm. I can live with that. Thanks.

        Yes, Elsa from Frozen. And, of course not! You are not a bad person just because you haven’t seen the most popular Disney movie of the last 5 years! I only know of Game of Thrones from stuff I hear. And I skip around various Doctor Who episodes on Netflix. *nods*

      4. The most evil appear the most innocent.
        Quite frankly, I’m afraid that Game of Thrones would go beyond my personal limits for certain content. I’ve heard a lot about it and… yeah.

      5. Yeah, I understand. There are scenes in that show that make me uncomfortable, and I’m The Chillest Guy Ever. (Title was given to me by myself.) There’s a lot of graphic and sexual content, and while (most of) it serves the story, it still easily tops the list of “Shows you do not want to watch with your parents in the room.”

      6. (Nice title.)
        *nods* Noted. I’m still a bit nervous about watching Les Mis with Mom eventually and that’s probably the worse thing I’ve seen with that sort of thing in it. (That or Sherlock, Scandal in Belgravia.)

  2. God, as though in (what’s meant to be) a professional environment, he expects you to answer quite a deep question like that??
    The thing is, no one knows for SURE what’s going to happen in life…
    So we tend to leave our options open. We prepare for the unknown, because who knows where life can take you?
    Plus, no one on their death bed ever thinks, “man, I wish I’d known what I was gonna do at 16/17/18!” (Morbid, I know, but you see my point??)
    i think you should maybe make up an answer about how you’re an undercover worldwide success in medicine already, and that in retirement you were bored and decided to blend into the world by taking up a job in mcdonalds…

    1. That’s an excellent idea. Or perhaps I could pretend to be a host of one of those reality TV shows, like this one:

      America has the weirdest shows . . .

  3. If you are interested in medicine and writing, here is a site you might find interesting: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/whitecoat, it is a Canadian radio show (radio is something old people listen to while waiting for the newspaper to arrive at their doorstep) about an emergency room doctor who also writes, blogs and hosts this radio show.

  4. There are actually a lot of doctors who write some pretty incredible things. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the professions best suited for writing. If you want a challenge (I say “challenge” because I haven’t even read it yet) then Arthur Kleinman’s “The Illness Narratives” is considered a classic.
    Also, sorry, but that old guy is just an asshole.

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