“Welcome to McDonald’s, may I take your order?” says the bored, disembodied voice coming from the little box under the menu board in the drive-thru.
“Yeah, um…lemme see…gimme a kid’s meal with a cheeseburger and, um, a diet coke for the drink,” I say, eloquently. “Please,” I add. It’s an afterthought, but at least I remembered.
“Gogurt or apples slices?” says the voice. It is obvious the voice couldn’t care less about my dining preferences.
“Um…Gogurt,” says me, “oh, and no toy.”
“No toy?” comes voice, a little more interested now.
“No toy. It’s for me,” says I.
“$3.67 at the first window,” says the voice, and I proceed as instructed.
Turns out the voice belongs to a fresh-faced, teenage girl. She slides the window back when I drive up and repeats, “$3.67 please.”
I get busy corralling bills and accumulating exact change.
“No, she said no toy,” girl says. I look up, but she is not talking to me. She is talking into her headset.
“Wa wa wa,” says faint voice coming through headset.
“Yes, she knows the Happy Meal comes with a toy, but she doesn’t want it,” girl says into headset.
“Wa wa wa,” says headset voice.
“The Happy Meal is for me,” I say, helpfully, although I think the order-taking/cashier-girl already gets that. It’s the unseen body on the other end of the headset who needs convincing.
“I don’t need a toy,” I continue. “Might be pretty silly if I did at my age. Besides, I’ll just throw it out, so why have it end up in the landfill?”
I give her $5.67.
Girl looks up briefly and offers a faint smile of acknowledgement, then returns her attention to her headset.
“Wa wa wa,” comes thru, soft and garbled.
“I know the boxes already have the toys in them. Just take it out before you put the cheeseburger in. What’s the big deal?” Girl looks at me and rolls her eyes. She may be a bored teenager, but she’s not an idiot. Apparently the same cannot be said for the person in charge of Happy Meal construction.
Girl gives me back $2 and says, “jeez, it’s like they’re the FBI. I get 20 questions for saying no Happy Meal toy.” She gives me a genuine smile this time.
“Thanks,” I say, smiling back, and then I drive on.
“One cheeseburger Happy Meal,” says the cheerful, pimply guy at the second window, handing me a 4-inch tall drink and a bright, red box.
“Thanks,” I say, and then I head out to get on with the rest of my life.
I’m waiting until I get back to the office to eat, but I can’t resist sneaking a couple of fries on the way – who can? I unfold the top of the box, reach in to snag some salty goodness and pull out… the How To Train Your Dragon 2 Toy.
Resistance is futile.