I take my kids to McDonalds about every 2 weeks. Ok. Every week. Sheesh.
There is one in particular that seems to get most of our drive-thru business. The lady who works the first window where I pay is hard to look at. Plus, she is missing some teeth. She looks like she’s been down that road, strapped to the back of a beat up old truck, and dragged back down that road again. The bumpy road with shattered glass in the middle. Yeah. That one.
I’ve often wondered what happened to her and how did she end up where she is working at a McDonalds drive-thru, missing teeth, scraggly hair, sunken eyes with dark shadows underneath, skinny body, wrinkled too soon, rough voice, and chewed nails. Who didn’t love her enough? Who didn’t treat her right? Who didn’t tell her she’s beautiful? Who didn’t make her feel like a princess? What was her life like to meander down that bumpy, shattered road and end up in a Florida McDonald’s drive-thru? I probably don’t want to know.
My heart fills with sorrow for someone like her so I try very hard to be extra super nice and smiley and outgoing. I try to make her smile. I take off my sunglasses to look her straight in the eye and I tell her to have a great day. She’s not just a McDonald’s employee to me. She’s a soul. She’s God’s creation and she is full of worth. Incredible worth. But, does she know this?
A few months ago we did our usual pit-stop.
“Chicken nuggets, fries, Sprite, toy, and ranch dipping sauce, Mom.”
“I know, kids.”
I ordered. She responded over the speaker. I removed my sunglasses and pulled up to pay. When my Brianna saw her she said, “Mom, she’s my favorite girl.”
“Mine too, Mom,” said Jeremy.
“Awww, you guys, she’s my favorite girl too.”
Tell her urged my soul.
“Thanks. Hey, wanted to let you know that my kids say you’re their favorite.”
I nodded. She waved at them and smiled so big I could count how many teeth were missing. They both waved back and we drove to the next window.
A few weeks later (ok, the following week), we did our usual. She was there as usual. She smiled so big when she saw our van and asked me their ages and names. She waved, they waved, and we got our flabby meals and drove home.
That went on for awhile until one day I decided we went to McDonalds too much and stopped going for several weeks. When we returned one frazzled afternoon, I had done my hair differently and had a baby. She didn’t seem to recognize us at all. I just gave her the money and kept on. She was polite and so was I. The kids didn’t seem to notice that she didn’t wave and smile.
One day several weeks later (ok, the next week probably), we drove through and I decided to tell her again that she’s my kids’ favorite.
“Brianna, remember the McDonalds lady?”
“Yeah, mom. She’s my favorite girl.”
“Well, she’s here today. Why don’t you and Jeremy say hi to her.”
“OK!!!!,” they both chimed in unison and we drove around the corner to the window.
“Hi. Remember us? You’re my kids’ favorite. We come to this McDonalds just so they can see you,” I said.
“Me? You do? Hi kids!”
“Wait… Ma’am… do you mind? Uh, can I get my boss and will you tell him what you just told me?” she asked excitedly.
“Sure thing!” I replied.
He came to the window and I told him what I told her and she smiled and he gently rubbed her back and thanked me for telling him and complimented her on a job well done. I drove to the second window to get our flab on and he handed me the food. As I set the bags on my passenger seat and turned to reach for our drinks he said, “thanks for telling me that about Joni… she sure is a hard working woman and I am pretty sure she needed to hear that today.” I smiled and said, “I was serious… my kids love her.”
She’s their favorite girl.
That older than her years woman with missing teeth and rough exterior.
They don’t see what we see yet.
And, I wish for the life of me that I could only see what they see.