Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fry Anxiety

Health care professionals will tell you that fast food joints are hazardous to your health. What they don’t tell you is, there’s another danger that may be even worse than an expanding waistline. I’m talking about FFAD, Fast Food Anxiety Disorder. You’ve probably never heard of it because I just made it up. It helps if I can put a name to my problems.

A typical FFAD scenario goes something like this. For explanation purposes here, I will use myself as an example. That way no one gets sued.

The typical Fast Food Anxiety sufferer (that would be me) walks through the door of the typical fast food joint and immediately begins to do the fast food two-step. This is a little dance wherein I attempt to avoid the maze of railings provided by the FFJ (fast food joint). The railings are suppose to keep the waiting line orderly, kind of like the lines at Disney World only without ‘It’s a Small World After All’ playing non-stop at a decibel level of an F16 fighter jet.

Staying out of the line within the Disney-esque railings for as long as possible is crucial for me. This is because I find it nearly impossible to read the menu while simultaneously marching along in the queue. The menu is posted so high above the counter it requires a deep-space telescope to see it. With each step, I lose my place in the menu and must begin again with the Value Meal section. Anxiety sets in.

Eventually, though, I must take the plunge and join the line. Herded along, I near the counter, but I still cannot locate the drink section of the menu. My steps become slower as I try in vain to stay on task. This leads to muttering from the ranks in the railings behind me. These are the people who know exactly what they want when they walk in, have their debit cards firmly in their grasp, AND are able to carry on a coherent conversation with the customer next to them as well.

It’s a safe bet that now I’m stuck in the Combo Section of the menu where there are way too many choices. With cheese or without. Fries, wedges or baked potato. Chives or sour cream. Regular, SuperSize, or Elastic Waistband.

Ready or not, I’ve made it to the counter where the FFJ cashier asks: “Muh tuhkya uhrrrrr?”
(This is not what he said, actually, but it’s a close facsimile to what I believe I heard, due of course, to my rising anxiety levels.)

“Muh tuhkya uhrrr?” he says again.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m not quite ready to order yet,” I stammer, “maybe you should take the next person in line.”

Now I make a really bad move. A really bad move. I step behind the person behind me. This upsets the entire natural order of the Fast Food Waiting Line Ordering System. Everyone is now forced to take a step backward, which elicits more muttering, which causes my anxiety levels to rise yet again, which causes me to function even more slowly, if that’s possible. (Note: The FFADer’s anxiety level is directly proportionate to the amount of discernable muttering in the waiting line.)

Somehow, I finally place an order with no less than two substitutions, one cancellation, and a request for something not even on the menu.

“Can I have the wedges from Combo Number Two instead of the onion rings from Number Five, but without cheese on the burger from Number Forty-seven, and I’ve been reading about all the health benefits of legumes lately, you wouldn’t happen to have any, would you?”

And now it’s time for possibly the most anxiety-ridden part of the whole fast food experience. Money.

Yes, nothing strikes fear into the heart of the hapless person with Fast Food Anxiety more than paying for their order. This is because they (and when I say they, I mean me) find it humanly impossible to make any purchase without rifling through a bulging change purse stuffed with wads of receipts, unused credit cards, and approximately $15 in nickels and pennies, all of which shoots out of the aforementioned bulging change purse and scatters across the counter causing the cashier to exclaim, “Mwuh?!”

There is no way to know the exact number of people afflicted with Fast Food Anxiety Disorder, as very few will come forward for treatment fearing ridicule, shame, and the confiscation of their change purses. That’s why the FFJEFTBOFFJE (Fast Food Joint Employees For The Betterment Of Fast Food Joint Employees) are working tirelessly (well, they’re thinking about it anyway) to find a cure.

So the next time you’re in line at your favorite burger place, and someone with a change purse asks to step behind you, just save everyone a whole lot a trouble and tell the cashier, “she’ll have what I’m having…and put it on my bill.”


image courtesy


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