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.]

A Post About Assigned Books in School

A long time ago, three people got together and tried to come up with a way to get more teens reading. Let’s name them #1, #2, and #3. The following is their conversation:

#1: Holy surprising statistic, Batman! It seems that the percentage of teenagers who read for fun is on a steady decline. What should we do to fix this?

#2: Well, I guess we could encourage them to read books they’re more likely to enjoy. Reading books they like will help them—-

#3: I HAVE AN IDEA!

#2: Okay, just cut me off. That’s fine.

#3: Oh it is? Good. Thank you.

#2: But—

#3: Anyway, I think we should make them read books they obviously won’t like.

#1: Go on…

#3: And then force them to say positive things about those books, even if they think it’s horrible.

#2: How would that help? It doesn’t teach them to think critically and just reinforces the belief that reading is dull and pointless.

#3: Yes, but symbolism!

#1: *Nods head.* Excellent point there, #3.

#2: Well, there’s plenty of great books out there with symbolism. How about  we make To Kill a Mockingbird mandatory? Or what about Huckleberry Finn?

#3: No way, those books are racist. We don’t want to offend anyone.

#2: But the whole message of those books is that racism is bad.

#3: If the authors thought racism is bad, why’d they use the N word so many times?

#1: He has a point.

#2: Okay fine. What about a book that teenagers could relate to? Something like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, or maybe Looking for Alaska by John Green.

#3: Yeah, but both of those books involve sex. We don’t want teenagers getting the wrong ideas.

#2: By the time someone reaches high school, they already know what these things are. Just because teens read about sex in a book doesn’t mean they’re more likely to do it. Besides, these books were definitely pro-abstinence.

#3: Yeah, but teenagers don’t have the critical thinking skills to figure that out.

#2: Well that’s just not—

#3: I HAVE ANOTHER IDEA! Let’s make students read The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

#2: That book involves sex too.

#3: Yeah, but it’s a classic, so that makes it okay. Plus, it has symbolism!

#2: Symbolism isn’t the only thing that makes a book good.

#3: You’re right; it’s symbolism and long, boring prose. The Scarlet Letter has both.

#1: So let’s recap the ideas so far: 1) force them to read books they won’t like, 2) make them say positive things about it, 3) avoid edgy books, and 4) only get classic novels with boring prose and lots of symbolism.

#3: Don’t forget to make them write long essays about the symbolism.

#1: You’re right. I can’t believe I almost forgot to include that.

#3: One more thing: let’s make students take turns reading the book out loud in front of the entire class.

#2: What could anyone possibly gain from that?

#3: I don’t know, but let’s do it anyway.

15 Rants in Under 1,000 Words.

[Caution: Slight Spoiler for A Song of Ice and Fire in the first rant.]

This post was inspired by this video. And if there’s any middle school followers reading this, watch this video, because nobody liked middle school.

I hope I don’t get any comments like, “Hey, be grateful for the life you have, you spoiled brat,” because I am grateful for just about everything, which I’ll be making a post about some time soon. Most of the things in this post shouldn’t taken seriously anyway.

Joffrey’s best moment on The Game of Thrones so far

1) Joffrey Baratheon Lannister, you need to go. According to a YouTube comment, you don’t die until the fourth book of A Song of Ice and Fire, and I am not okay with that. Everything you say makes me clench my fists with rage and want to watch the gif above for hours. And I don’t want you to die some noble death either, I want you to die from having paper cuts all over your body (and I mean every single inch) and then being thrown in a pool of hand sanitizer.

2) To the guy who came up with the idea to only sell hardcover novels for the first year or so after a book is released: I hate you. You have emptied the pockets of everyone who doesn’t use eBooks and got kicked out of his local library (so just me). A book should not cost twenty-five dollars more than its softcover counterpart. Sure, it’s a good idea from a marketing standpoint, but still. Have a heart.

3) To the kid in the back of my Social Studies class: yes, the primary language in England is in fact, English. The fact that you didn’t seem to be kidding is terrifying to us all.

4) What is the point of wearing a belt if you’re still going to let your pants sag? The entire point of a belt is to keep your pants up to your waist. If you’re not going to wear your belt properly, them sell it to a goddamn belt shop. Or you could give it to me, since I have a fondness for belt buckles.

6) I hate that I’m not entirely sure what a rant is, so I don’t know if any of these actually count.

7) I hate talking about things I hate because then I come off as a very angry person despite the fact that I am more than happy with my life right now. All I need is a pet dragon and I’d be perfectly content.

8) I get that David Tennant was a great Doctor, but he is not the only Doctor that matters, and I can’t be the only one frustrated with seeing comments like “They should bring back David Tennant once Matt Smith leaves,” “I stopped watching once Tennant left,” and “David Tennant was the only real Doctor.” The best part of Doctor Who is its ability to change every few years. We can’t just have one Doctor throughout the whole show (although I wouldn’t mind if Smith stayed forever and ever).

9) My family needs to start reading books more. I don’t think my brother has ever read a book for fun in years, and my mom has literally been reading the exact same book since I was five years old (The Memory Keeper’s Daughter). My dad’s the only one who reads for fun in this house, but he also refuses to read young adult books. I’m thinking about trading my family in for a new one some time soon.

10) I can’t stand people who walk too slow in the hallways at school. Yesterday I was trying to get to my bus and was stuck behind three people in an otherwise empty hall. There were only three of them, but it seemed like they strategically placed themselves so I couldn’t get past. Then they walked at the pace of a handicapped snail, not caring at all about the people behind them.

11) Even worse than slow walkers are people who blame the hallway traffic on the freshmen. The slow walking is in no way just the freshmen’s fault, nor is just about any other problem high school students seem to blame them on. I don’t get the hatred for them. Wouldn’t people think, “Hmm… I remember how badly I was treated as a Freshman. Now that I know what it’s like, maybe I should treat them better instead?” Apparently not.

12) I hate it when teachers make the whole class individually read part of a book/article out loud in front of everyone. Not only does this waste time, but it makes the whole class uncomfortable, especially when there’s that poor kid who stutters. Not only is everyone uncomfortable, but most of the students are also nervously trying to avoid eye contact with the teacher so he/she doesn’t make them read next. The only reasons I could think of for teachers doing this are to a.) make students miserable, or b.) waste as much time as possible.

13) Dear teachers everywhere: if you’re going to make it mandatory for students to use a three-ring binder for your class, HOLE PUNCH YOUR PAPERS, you evil, evil person.

14) There’s nothing worse than when two people get in a fight on the bus ride home from school. This was fine in middle school when school fights were the coolest thing ever, but high school students just want to go home. We have jobs to go to, homework to do, recreational drugs to experiment with. We don’t have time to deal with the bus stopping and having to wait for the police and the principal to drive over and sort things out.

15) I hate birdhouses, because they’re unfair to the rest of the animal kingdom. Not only can birds fly, which already gives them a huge advantage over the rest of the animals, but now they have humans building houses for them. Imagine how that makes the other animals feel.