When Sides Ruin Lunch

Last weekend, I decided to buy a gallon of sweet tea at a local sandwich chain that has amazing sweet tea. I braved the cold, the traffic and finding my cars keys because once I decided I wanted this tea, I knew I could not live without it.

It was lunch time when I got to the restaurant and the line to order was backed all the way up to the entrance. There were two people at the registers.

I wanted to throw a tantrum. I wanted to just pitch over like a toddler and scream and cry and yell because there were at least a million people in front of me. I just wanted tea. 

Instead, I took a deep breath and wedged myself between the door and the couple in front of me.

The couple in front of me weren’t elderly, but they were older than me. Maybe mid sixties. It was extremely close quarters and while they huddled over their menu, their intense conversation was forced into my ear holes.

This might not be the exact conversation, but it’s pretty fucking close.

Annoyed man: Well, I guess I’ll get the turkey club. I have to use the restroom, just order for me in case I’m not back.

Not back for what? There were at least twenty people in line in front of them. If he needed that long in the bathroom, I hope he had a newspaper or a joke book or something. 

Woman: Okay, what do you want for your side?

Man: Side? There’s no sides. What side?

Woman: You get a side with your sandwich.

Man, dramatically unfolding menu: No, no you don’t. It says here, sandwich is served with a pickle. Oh…and a side. 

He said the word side in such a way that it sounded like he blamed his wife for the existence of sides. Like she created the entire business model for this chain just to annoy him. .

Man: Well, what are the sides?

At this point, he was still holding the menu they had been sharing. 

Woman: They’re on the menu.

Man, making crabby old man noises while scanning for the sides: Oh, here they are.

At this point, I wanted  to help him. I just wanted to say ‘Dude, you can refuse the sides. The sides are obviously upsetting you. Let me help you with your side agony. Just say no to sides’.

Man, handing menu back to wife: I guess I’ll just have the fresh fruit.

He said ‘fresh fruit’ but it kind of sounded like ‘dog shit’. 

He left for his potty break and when he came back the line hadn’t moved at all. Apparently, the people who were ordering at the two open cash registers were doing so by interpretive dance, sign language, or something.

I was fascinated by the whole ‘sides’ drama. I mean, if you have a trillion people in line in front of you then you find your kicks where you can.

Still, they worked their shit out and the little play ended.

So I looked to my left.

There was a couple who I first assessed as older than me, then realized they were probably not only my age, there was a good chance they were 5 years younger. They were sitting side by side in a booth. The husband had a goofy expression and you would have no problem imagining him in a football jersey and surrounded by cheerleaders in 1981.

She was trim and her face looked pinched and her hair was yellow. She watched her husband eat.

You guys, he chewed with his mouth open, it was disgusting. 

He was picking meat off his sandwich and each time he picked something off his sandwich, she looked more annoyed. By the time she said something, she was actually twitching.

Yellow haired woman: Just give me your sandwich. Here. You eat mine.

Former jock who was probably adorable when Reagan first got elected: Oh. .Okay.

So, she swapped the sandwiches and the first thing he did was take it apart and start picking things from it.

I so badly wanted to laugh out loud. Seriously, his wife made a face that made ‘resting bitch face’ a warm and welcoming look.

I was quite proud of myself because I was very friendly when I finally got my turn. Even though I had created this little fantasy about how I finally make it to the cashier and they tell me they are too busy to get my tea. In my fantasy, it did not go well for the employee and I was able to practice some primal scream therapy.

I didn’t even roll my eyes or complain when she forgot to get the cup of lemons to go with it.

I had lemons at home.

I got my tea. Life is good.






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  • Over the holidays I was stuck in a long line and the woman behind me kept sighing loudly and making dramatic noises with the stuff in her arms. I’m usually one of those people who let others go in front of me but then I remembered the lesson I was trying to teach my children: Don’t be a whiner. We are all waiting. We all have somewhere to be. We all have a story to tell about why this line is killing us. They opened up a new lane and when I was invited to go over, she almost had a temper tantrum. “What about me????” I told the cashier, “I’m not in a hurry. Take her.” Then, a bunch of other people in our line said loudly, “I’m not in a hurry either.” I silently sent the lady a prayer of peace and hoped that her day would get better. I suddenly felt happy and centered and definitely not in a hurry.

  • I find it fascinating when people go to a chain restaurant and then don’t know what they want. Didn’t you pick the place because you had a sniggling idea of what they served? And couldn’t you use your time in line to decide, rather than waiting until you reach the counter to ponder your choices.

    • Right? Especially fast food places. These shouldn’t be hard choices. Perhaps the hard choice is better left to deciding to NOT eat fast food. But we all know what they have.

  • “He said ‘fresh fruit’ but it kind of sounded like ‘dog shit’. ”

    Because he was thinking “After all that fiber I’ll have to go to the bathroom again before I leave. Dammit, why didn’t I wear my Depends today? Then I could drop the fucking sides down my shorts and no one would notice.”

  • I always like to make up little stories in my head about the people I am people watching or even the unseen people in the neighborhoods I drive through/by everyday. So if they don’t offer any clues to what their life is like or what kind of person they are, you get to make it all up. Yep, I do find it entertaining. And funny story, Michelle. 🙂

  • What I am always amazed at is after waiting in a long line, they get to the cashier and THEN start deciding what they want. This happens at the Tim Horton’s donut shop ALL the time. It is like after 20 minutes in line they are surprised to find themselves there and can’t fathom what it is all about.
    Jeez people!
    (glad you got your tea)

  • Not sure if sweet tea is a thing over here, can’t say I’ve ever seen it on a menu, however I’m glad you got yours.
    I find eavesdropping in queues can be highly entertaining too. This did make me laugh so thanks for brightening my day!
    Been trying to find my Zen all afternoon and failing.

  • Hubs and I have been together since the dawn of time. Or 1985, whichever. Married in 1990 when we were 21 and 20. Not tooooo surprisingly, the 25 years of marital union has not been without a few bumps. At one point we decided on some couples therapy, who declared our marriage very sound, but could use some tweaking. The BIGGEST issue? That whole passive/aggressive game. And as embarrassing as it is to admit you had to go to couples counselling (I know shouldn’t be embarrassing, but there you are) we learned some VERY valuable things that have made the last 12/13 years much easier. How to spot when one of us is being passive/aggressive and how to call the other one on it and stop it.
    “You told me whatever I ordered you would be fine. If you meant, “except for the meatball sub,” you should have said it. Now you have a choice: eat the meatball sub or go back to the counter and order something else. Picking at your meatball sub and pouting is also something you can choose. But then I will choose to sit somewhere else.”

  • My buddy Bruce stopped by his sister’s house when he was on leave from the Navy, and say his young niece out in the yard when he got there. When young niece recognized Uncle Bruce there were gales of laughter, hugs and kisses; you name it. Uncle Bruce asked where Mom was and Young Niece said she went shopping. So Uncle Bruce said, “Howza’bout WE go shopping….For Ice Cream? More enthusiasm, more hugs.

    Just then the police cruiser pulls up and the coppers get out and start with their questions: What are you doing with the child, sir? (Etcetera) Uncle Bruce says he’s showering love on his favorite niece. (He’s in the SEAL team, and as you can imagine he’s a real softie where his niece is concerned.)

    “We got a report there was a stranger molesting a child,” the cop says.

    “And from who?” asks Uncle Bruce.

    “We can’t tell you. It was a telephone call to the station house.”

    At that moment, Uncle Bruce sees the across the street neighbor, Ms. Nosyparker, with her head right in the door crack, and he marches right over and brings the police.

    “Did you call the police?” Bruce asks.

    “Well I thought someone shouldn’t be bothering the child,” the alte kokker answers.

    “Don’t you recognize me? I’m the girl’s uncle. I’ve ALWAYS been Uncle Bruce.”

    “Well I don’t know,” is the reply.

    “What don’t you know?”

    “I don’t know,” is the next reply. Uncle Bruce is not letting this go, not with the police standing there. “Weren’t you at my sister’s wedding? Did she not introduce us then? How can you not remember?”

    “Well, I don’t know,” again.

    “So before you figured ANYTHING out you called the police, right?”

    “Well, I don’t know,” once again. Bruce turns to his niece and asks her to tell the nice policeman who he is. “He’s uncle Bruce and he’s a sailor,” young niece replies with a big smile.

    The policeman says to Nosy Parker, “How’s about you apologize to these people for embarrassing them in public, ma’am?”

    “Well, I don’t know.”

  • I want to be like Karen. I say I am going to be, and then…I am not. But I am still trying.

    And I know it’s been said, but funniest line of the day: “He said ‘fresh fruit’ but it kind of sounded like ‘dog shit’. ”

  • Maybe Mr. Former Jock took one too many hard hits to the head while playing football…
    What I don’t like about fast food places is when customers act rude and abusive to the staff. I worked in food service long enough to know that they’re doing it wrong. You get better service if the staff likes you and you make their day easier and more fun, not the opposite. Then there’s the whole “human decency” thing…

  • God, other people in lines/in the store are the bane of my existence. I also, however, make up stories about them. You see the damndest situations sometimes, or see somebody saying the perfect thing, or even just a little catharsis imagining scaring some sense into that misbehaving child……

  • Fresh fruit sounding like dog shit made me laugh out loud but mostly because I might be that dick. I mean I LOVE fruit but I can’t stand the fruit mixed up lamed stuff that so many restaurants have (and I’m assuming it’s a Panera or something since you were standing in line instead of sitting in your car) because they make it gross… SO while I LOVE LOVE LOVE this, part of me is kinda that old man, bummed that the “sides” aren’t something a little more exciting, like, um, well, yeah, sides aren’t that exciting unless they include choices like loaded baked potato and full salads and mmmm garlic mashed potatoes right? 😉 Thank you for the much needed laugh!!

  • I do not understand people’s love of tea. I mean, I DO — for some freaky reason, you all find tea to be delicious and desirable. My whole family also loves tea — so it’s not like I wasn’t raised with it. I just can’t do it — it tastes like….watered down water to me. Perhaps I got some sort of recessive tea-hating gene — Mormon inbreeding or something 🙂

  • Having just returned from the Dominican Republic last night, I am finding myself grateful for the opportunity to stand in line for food that, with luck, will not destroy my insides. And having read this, I am sending my husband to the same restaurant for a giant jug of that tea and hoping it will be the cure for the “tropical flu” I returned home with. 🙂

  • Man, making crabby old man noises while scanning for the sides<—Snort ( literally!) I work in a small space with guys…and I have misophonia (*I am sensitive to certain kinds of sounds ) This reminds me of them and all the cringe worthy moments that guys bring into the space…Although I call them 'Dad noises'

    • I also have misophonia and I feel your pain. It’s not ALL sounds, but very specific ones drive me INSANE. The sound the car makes when you don’t put your seatbelt on. fuck.

By Michelle

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