About a year ago I participated in a men’s weekend retreat out in the country. About 15 participants and 13 facilitators gathered together for three days of serious work with the intent of exploring truth, shadows, and learning how to be a better man. It was intense and emotional, and I saw dudes explore rage, shame, fear and sadness, as well as joy.
Some guys confronted memories of abusive fathers, others had to reclaim their “balls” from controlling wives, and even some were dealing with addiction. Pretty heavy stuff. But you can only watch so much SportsCenter, right?
Anyway, after the weekend we continued to meet every other week for three hours at a clip. Just a circle of men hanging out talking about their feelings and giving each other support. Women do this all the time. You know, book clubs and stuff. But men don’t. Not in my experience anyway.
Actually, my father does. He didn’t used to, but I bet he doesn’t go four months now without sharing something personal and important with me. Not sure why the shift, but it’s a good reminder that men should talk about their fear and pain. When my cat died while we were all in Italy last fall, my father cried. I didn’t. That shows you why I need to do the work.
Our initial group stopped meeting a few months ago. While a bummer, it was mostly a geographic thing. We had guys coming in from two hours away to meet, and it was just too far for a lot of them. Anyway, the organization has put over 5,000 men through their programs over 25 years, so they found me another group.
So, last Tuesday, I rode my bike a few miles to meet up with three guys I didn’t know, but who knew each other quite well. They accepted me right off, and we got to work.
Three hours later, many of us had shared some intensely personal stuff. One of the men felt a sense of responsibility with the current oil spill because of his relationship to BP. Another one had a father who was a career bookie, and had to deal with some serious family dysfunction. One’s son had just entered rehab for meth addiction. I, of course, have my own pain and struggle, which I spoke of.
So, after three hours of this kind of work, I was pretty goddamned exhausted. But I suppose that’s the point. Now, since I rode there, I had to ride home. It was after 10pm, and I hadn’t eaten in about five hours. So, on the four mile ride home, I was mentally reviewing my take-out options.
The only place that I thought could be still open was Wendy’s.
You’re probably groaning like I did, realizing that this is not ideal.
I remember a bit a comedian used to do back in the 80s that went something like this:
Nobody ever plans in advance to go eat at Denny’s. You just end up there. Their motto should be, “Hey, it’s late!”
The same applies to Wendy’s. Nobody chooses it on purpose.
Now, I know what you’re saying. “Wendy’s isn’t that bad! It’s pretty good, actually!” No, it’s not. And I’ll prove it. Name three things they have on their menu. See? You can’t. Also, have you ever sat at home and thought, “Wendy’s is the best possible fast-food choice for me right now. I’m going to go get it!” You’ve never said that. Nobody has.
I think they have square burgers, but that’s all I know.
I’m not saying the food is bad – I have no idea. But it can’t be that good, since nobody in my entire 33 years has ever suggested it as a place to eat. I have dined there in the past, but only because there were no other options, or I was gacked to the nines on whiskey.
But, hey, fast food is fast food. I was super hungry.
I pulled up to the restaurant, and locked my bike. I was sweaty and tired. The lights were still on. Nice.
I walked around to the door and it was locked. No big deal, I could see cars in the drive-thru. I walked over to the order-box.
Of course, I don’t weigh several thousand pounds, so I didn’t trip the sensor letting them know I was at the drive-thru. Like a moron, I proceeded to yell, “Hello!” into the speaker for a good 30 seconds before I realized they probably couldn’t hear me.
What to do… Well, the only option I came up with was to wait behind the car that had just ordered and slowly inch my way up to the window. On foot.
Imagine it’s dark out, you just drove up and placed your order, and as you’re waiting to get to the window, some dude is standing five feet behind your car. You’d freak out. It’s scary.
Plus, I had a bike helmet on. Safety first and all.
So, like an asshole, I waited behind the line of cars. Thankfully, nobody drove up behind me.
After a few minutes of standing and slowing inching up, I got to the window. I knocked.
A teenager opened the window, and I politely asked if he would take my order since the door was locked. He said he was very sorry, but it’s against their policy to serve someone on foot.
I have heard of this before. It’s probably a safety thing, and they don’t need weirdos walking around back there scaring people.
I asked him if there’s another option. He said, “Go knock on that window and talk to my manager. She can probably help.”
I’d like to point out that I’m wearing a Polo shirt, nice jeans, and new shoes. I walk to the window, knock, and the manager opens up the side door.
“I know only the drive-thru is open, but may I please place an order?”
“No, you have to be in a vehicle.” (and, I’m not shitting you, she actually makes the driving gesture with both hands)
“That’s great – I actually came in a vehicle!” (pointing to my bike)
“No, it has to be a car. It’s our policy.”
“So, you’re not going to serve me?”
“That’s a really stupid policy. Thanks anyway.”
I’d like to point out a few things here. First, I’m clearly not some degenerate looking to rob the place. I’m well-dressed, wearing a bike helmet, and they’re currently serving customers. Second, I would argue that the guy in the 1992 Toyota Tercel who was in front of me is more of a threat. When you see a really shitty car, don’t you automatically assume the people inside are up to no good? I do. In fact, I’d like to blue book my Cannondale vs. that car. I bet I would come out on top.
I’m not even asking for special treatment here. I don’t want to come inside. I don’t want them to make my burger without onions, I just want the food handed to me while my feet are touching pavement. That’s it. But they apparently won’t do that.
I’m writing Dave Thomas about this. Oh wait, he’s dead. Good. Screw that guy. He should have changed their drive-thru policy before he died.
But, even with my vitriol, it really didn’t matter. Wendy’s had beaten me. I said a quick prayer to Jesus to deliver pubic lice to the manager, and got back on my bike.
I ended up getting a frozen pizza from CVS and sat at home fuming. I knew I shouldn’t really care, but I did. Obviously I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but still. I felt rejected. And, as a married man, I don’t experience much rejection these days. Maybe I’m out of practice. Anyway, I’ll recover. No need to send a sympathy card.
But, if you live near me, I’d avoid the Wendy’s on Lawrence for the next few weeks just in case Jesus decides to answer my prayer.