We were driving the five hours from Chicago to St. Louis to visit my parents, and although we’d often pack snacks for our two kids ahead of such a road trip, we realized halfway through the drive that pickings were slim. My husband pulled off at a nearby exit and I saw the golden arches of a McDonald’s just around the corner. We normally don’t indulge in fast food (and if we do, I’m a Taco Bell fan all the way), but it’d already been a long trek, and we had no business being picky.
My oldest daughter had to go to the bathroom, so she and I went inside to order while my husband, toddler, and dog saddled up to a picnic table out front.
When I approached the counter, I was clearly a newb. All the brightly lit signs featuring value meals and combo deals and super sizes overwhelmed me. I ordered some burgers for me and my husband and two Happy Meals for my kids. I didn’t expect so many follow-up questions. “Do you want a four-piece or a six-piece Chicken McNugget?” “Apple slices or Yoplait?” “What drink — milk, water, or juice box?”
I answered them all as quickly as I could with a full-bladdered 4-year-old tugging on my shirt, and just when I was digging in my purse for my credit card, the cashier asked one more question.
“Are these for girls or boys?”
I looked up. Genuine confusion crept across my face, so she repeated herself.