Mc Life

130319 thankyouI am stunned that the spring solstice is already upon us!  Really?  Time is again, passing me by.  If I could have a discussion with Father Time I would plead with him to slow things down.  My life is blurring before my eyes and it’s hard to train my focus on the daily.  If I had to look back upon my life, what details would I remember?  

Yesterday my youngest son sat at my kitchen table reading several thank you notes.  I was caught by surprise.  Where did those come from?  I asked him.  Six envelopes, three from the mail, three from his school folder, were stacked on my table.  Some of them had been sitting there for a week, he informed me.  He gleefully read each one aloud and smiled at each one.  Three came from school staff, one from a classmate and two from dear friends/family.

I have a “thing” about thank you notes and since two of the notes came from the same person, I immediately hopped on the email to thank her for the the two thank you notes BIG LOL!!!  I felt a twinge of guilt that I had not finished sending thanks yous from gifts from Christmas.

My mind flashed back to my high school graduation day.  I recall wearing the yellow gown and continuously readjusting my cap with my crazy, sprayed-stiff hair.  I had been talking with the class valedictorian who commented how his hand had been tired writing all the thank you notes for the scholarships he had received.  Pomp and Circumstance had just started to be played by the band and I stared at him dumbfounded.  Thank you notes?  I’m supposed to write thank you notes?  As I walked through our high school stadium, to the slow tempo of the march, my mind kept repeating his words.  I, too, had received a lot of scholarships and was not taught/told to pen thank you notes to the foundations/ individuals who contributed to my college education.  My parents didn’t know to teach me this.  One of the first books I bought at the college bookstore, that fall, was Emily Post’s Etiquette.  To this day, it sits near my nightstand as a reminder.  And I still flush with embarrassment that I never knew this simple act of courtesy.

Needless to say, my kids know to always write thank you notes.  They do not question; they just do.  It is one lesson I pound into their head, to always give thanks.  Every morning when I wake up I always say, Thank you for this day.  I always awaken in a great mood; even if a bit groggy.  I am a morning person.  The mood of my day is set by the time I exit the doors of my garage and, usually, it is very hard to steer it in another direction; good or bad.   This week I have found myself yelling at other vehicles, blaring my horn more than usual and making various hand gestures.  So it was nice to have each of my sons read the thank you notes upon the table.  They’d smile or laugh; a simple thing.  A Thank You.

130319 boltsThe past two days, this week, have been busy with the logistics of bolts and fasteners.  I am constantly roaming the shop floor wondering which fastener or bolt goes with each order.  Some are plated, others are plain.  They are L’s, J’s, U’s, square and round bolts.  And they are heavy!  I thought I would be able to lift a box and wondered why the fork lift was always carting them around.  When I tried to lift a box I grunted; a box was 100 pounds.  And they were small little U-bolts!

130319 yearbookI have an approaching deadline for our elementary school yearbook so I sat at Dave’s PC, at work, uploading and downloading images and tying up our broadbands.  I had to shove aside a lot of paraphernalia off of the desk; there are nuts and bolts everywhere.  TurboCad drawings and manuals were cluttering the keyboard.  ARGH!  How can anyone work like this?  Add the phone calls,  fax noises and email notifications and I was ready to turn off the lights and put headphones on.   I can see why people choose beautiful settings for creativity but I have more respect for those who can create something out of chaos.  That, truly, takes  talent and focus.

The squares on the kitchen calendar are crammed with various ink colors this week.  Each night I find myself turning on the Kindle and promptly, falling asleep.  Yesterday I spent the evening in our local McDonalds franchise.  For any of you who have read, Fast Food Nation or watched the film, Super Size Me you would understand my reticence at serving at this establishment.  Ray Kroc truly was a revolutionary force in the creation of fast food and the words from In the Devil’s Garden by Stewart Lee Allen rang through my head.

“They (fast food) are immensely profitable for the corporations who produce them.  Perfect:  American workers now pay more money for worse food so they can hurry back to jobs they hate.”

I grew up with McDonalds.  Each Wednesday after piano lessons, our ritual was to eat out at the local establishment.  I always got a quarter pounder with cheese, fries and a coke.  I still enjoy a soft serve cone with french fries but I have not indulged in this craving for quite some time.  Our elementary school had a McTeacher fundraiser, last night, and our teachers, principal, asst. principal (AP) and PTA worked from the hours of 5-8 PM.  Our school received 20% of the sales, selling cookies and any “Tips for Teachers” in a jar by the registers.

130320 McPicThe hubs thought this was a hoot!  Our family has not stepped foot in a McDonalds in over two years so he brought the camera to take pictures, for our yearbook, as well as for posterity.  He, purposely, had our kids eat elsewhere but allowed them to have Oreo McFlurry’s to show support for our school.  When I initially agreed to help, behind the registers, I thought to myself, How hard could it be?

I quickly realized, standing for 3 hours straight and staring at the press button screen before me. that this was not what I had bargained for.  The registers appeared to be simplistic; but actually were not.  You had to press various buttons for Mc Meals and were prompted with questions such as: What kind of sauce would you like with your nuggets?  Drink?  Girl or boy Happy Meal?  And, often, there is the person at the counter who says, “Give me the McChicken, no mayo, extra pickles and can I substitute the fries for fruit?”  O-M-G!  The various buttons and screens you have to maneuver on the register were vast.  The actual employee who stood next to me. the entire time, has the screens and menu layout memorized.   Our principal worked the register to my left, Charlie’s former first grade teacher, to my right.  We’d all stare at one another in stupefied wonder at the range of ordering possibilities.  The employees were amazed the pint sized woman to my left was a principal and I have a fondness for our former first grade teacher; who did more chatting than working LOL!?  Unique experience, indeed.  The shared camaraderie with our school staff, families and community is truly priceless.

An interesting fact that our AP noted was the difference between the two schools he shares responsibilities for.  Our school has a diverse demographic, primarily white collar.  His other school is not as diverse in ethnicity and is blue collar.  He found that, as he went to sell cookies (3 for $1) that it was a difficult sell for the families of our school.  I also noted, at the registers, that parents happily bought meals for their children but NOT for themselves.    When his other school had their dine-out night, at this same franchise; every table he approached would ask to purchase the cookies and he ran out of them.

Fast food creates a vicious cycle.  It is cheap.  It is fast.  And for those families who have both parents working, it is an easier option to buy fast, cheap, junk food versus making a trip to the grocery store to purchase fresh produce.  It’s definitely cheaper to buy fast food, ready-made than to buy from the butcher.  You then would have to invest time in preparing and cooking the meal which is very slow.   If time and finances are an issue; the short cut always is the fast food option.  Hence our obesity epidemic in America; primarily in the lower socioeconomic neighborhoods.

All this brings me to my Lenten journey on giving up works.  So far, not so good.  I read this today and earmarked it.

“For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep doing.” Romans 7:19.

Do I want to live life fast vs. slow?  Is my piece of the pie, my Mc Life, something I want to remember?  This makes me ask myself, What do I want to do in this life?  Wish me luck on this one.  I am continuing to ponder.

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