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Adventures in Canada

Ray Van Ryckeghem

Fast Food:

Once a week, I have a lunch and learn with my team at work, and we sit and eat and learn new and exciting things. Unfortunately, last week was a very heavy work week, and refusing to deny free food for my team, I went to McDonalds for a large to-go order.

As I walk into McDonalds, I quickly realize that I'm the only English speaker. Everyone in the restaurant was Chinese. Customers, workers, managers...I even detected some Asian qualities in the Ronald McDonald outside.

I put in my order:

Me: I'd like seven Filet-O-Fish, seven extra-large fries and seven pies, please. And I need one of those Filet-O-Fish plain. (They take the no meat on Friday thing serious here)

Recently-Lobotomized, Mouth-Breathing Idiot: Plain?

Me: Yes, plain. No tartar sauce, no cheese.

RLMBI: No cheese?

Me: Right, no cheese. But just on one.

RLMBI: For here? (Thinking this was a lame attempt at a joke, I smiled.

The RLMBI looked at me like a baby bird awaiting waiting for a worm from momma.)

Me: Uh...no. To go.

RLMBI: To go?

Me: (sighing) Yes, to go.

RLMBI: Vinegar?

Me: Excuse me?

RLMBI: Vinegar?

Me: (suddenly remembering that a lot of people like vinegar on their fries up here). Uh, sure. (sound of approximately 18,500 vinegar packets landing in the bag)

RLMBI: Ketchup?

Me: Please. (sound of two packets of ketchup landing on the vinegar)

RLMBI: Would you like to make those combo meals?

Me: No thanks, I wouldn't be able to carry the sodas in my truck.

RLMBI: It's only 49 cents more!

Me: Uh, no thanks. But, could I get some extra tartar sauce?


Me: Hello?

RLMBI: I'm sorry. We don't have any.

Me: You what? You don't have any tartar sauce?

RLMBI: No. Only what comes on the sandwich.

Me: Well, I'll tell you what. Take the tartar sauce I didn't want on one of the sandwiches, and put it in a cup.

RLMBI: The cups are counted. We can't give them away.

Me: Fine. Charge me for a cup.

RLMBI: We can only sell the cups with a drink.

Me: Okay...I'd like to make one of those sandwiches a combo meal.

RLMBI: (hearing a word she recognized, her two brain cells snapped together and she went back into motion) ..and what would you like to drink with that?

Me: Tartar Sauce.

RLMBI went to get the supervisor, who by the looks of him, has spent the last three years drinking hot grease directly from the deep fryer.

Supervisor: Can I help you?

Me: Yes. Fill my order, and let me get out of here.

(Supervisor and RLMBI spoke together in Chinese)

Supervisor: You know that tartar sauce isn't a drink....

Me: And vinegar isn't something for French fries, but you have no problem with that. You do realize that you're about to lose a $50 order because you won't give me some extra tartar sauce....

RLMBI: He wants it in a cup!

Finally, somebody with two brain cells (the manager) comes from the back, listens to my complaint, and disappears behind the grill. He comes back ten seconds later with a large cup full of tartar sauce, orders the floor supervisor to get back to what they were doing, and rings up my order, giving me 10% off for the trouble.

As the RLMBI was handing me my four bags of food, I had to ask...

Me: And where are the straws?

Loving the great white north!


Driving on the ice:

Sunday - 5:00 p.m. - 34 degrees.

Had a friend visiting this weekend, and drove them back to the airport. Streets are clear, and traffic is mellow. I hum a cheery tune.

Sunday - 6:30 p.m. - 33 degrees.

After peering through the one clean spot in my windshield, I realize that it's been a while since I had a car wash. I pull into a gas station and pay for the Deluxe Ultra-Wash 2000. $7.95 Canadian. With tax: $828.27

Sunday - 7:00 p.m. - 33 degrees

I return to the hotel, proudly driving my shiny pickup with enough water pouring out of the bed to wash a small elephant. Gas mileage suffers.

Sunday - 8:00 p.m. - 32 degrees

After a very tasty dinner with some friends, I head back up to the room to do some programming while watching the Simpsons. Bart gives me inspiration.

Monday - 5:00 am - 27 degrees

The alarm clock disturbs my slumber with reports of a huge snowstorm in Buffalo. I giggle silently. Realizing that nobody can hear me, I also belch. Loudly.

Monday - 6:30 am - 28 degrees

As I head out the door, ready to spend my day in front of the computer, I step into the parking lot and accidentally execute an ice-skating spin. Perfect 10s, except for the Romanian judges.

Monday - 6:32 am - 28 degrees

I scrape the ice from my window, and hanging onto the mirror for stability, crawl into the truck and start it. Jimmy Buffet plays on the radio. Cheeseburger in the Frozen Food Aisle is more like it.

Monday - 6:33 am - 28 degrees

After letting it warm up for a minute, I put the truck in reverse and go nowhere, thanks to the sheet of ice, compliments of the car wash. My truck slides like a fat woman at Wet'n'Wild, barely missing the cars in the spots next to me.

Monday - 6:35 am - 28 degrees

As I am about to get out of the truck and lay down some salt, a man, who appears to be about 120 years old and weighs as much as one of my meals appears at my hood, attempting to push my truck back for me. I honk the horn. The paramedics tell me the cause of death was a heart attack.

Monday - 6:35 am - 28 degrees

Just kidding - I didn't honk, and he didn't die. He actually pushed me out of the spot!

Monday - 6:38 am - 28 degrees

As I start moving forward, I wave to the old man, and notice that he's wearing golf cleats. Smart idea, I think, as I realize that I'm not stopping. I am out of control at 4 mph. The old man laughs at my lack of winter driving ability. I honk, but that only seems to make him laugh harder. I slowly slide out into the main road.

Monday - 6:40 am - 28 degrees

My heart starts moving again, and the gentleman in the tractor-trailer I almost collided with seems to understand my pain. We bond and he shows me the secret trucker's handshake. Strangely, it only involves one finger.

Monday - 6:50 am - 29 degrees

I slide most of the four miles to work, and as I pull into my regular spot, a BMW 5-series comes in right after me. He wants the spot next to me and speeds up to get it.

Monday - 6:51 am - 29 degrees

Is there anything more satisfying than seeing the look of sheer panic on somebody's face as they slide an overpriced ego-mobile into a Ford Explorer? Somehow, all suddenly seems right with the world.

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