Don’t Talk to That Lady

“Sit down, right there,” the mother directed her son and daughter, likely ages 8 and 10. They were clearly out-of-towners.

“And don’t talk to anyone, ANYONE,” she almost scolded them.

The kids scurried off to a nearby table, while Tourist Mom stood in front of me trying to figure out what to order. The cashier waited patiently for her.

This particular carryout plays host to lots of tourists, and it always seems like the tourists forget how to order from this very familiar menu, simply because they are nowhere near their hometown.

Normally, I allow the tourists some slack, being strangers in a strange land and all that. I know they don’t know the peculiar, local rule about stand right, walk left on the subway escalators, and I always smile when I say, “Excuse me” to get around them. Plus, I don’t want to startle them and send them hurtling down the moving stairs.

Oh, sure, I know the tourists don’t intend to block sidewalks by clustering themselves in tight knots, gawking at landmarks I walk past everyday. It’s all new to them, right? I usually manage to ease my way through the throngs, reminding myself about the tourist contribution to the city’s tax base.

At least, that’s what the nice Restaurant Gal does, the smart Restaurant Gal who doesn’t drink too much wine while out with friends the night before.

Today, however, a very surly Restaurant Gal was in no mood for dawdling tourists because she needed–was desperate for–greasy carbs with a vitamin C chaser before she could think about facing work. The Restaurant Gal suffering from a double hash-brown hangover wanted to shove this tourist’s sorry, fanny-packed self the hell out of her way.

Tourist Mom ordered, finally. I ordered immediately after her.

Moments later, my order came up first–because there is a God.

Tourist Mom thought it was hers, however.

“That can’t be yours,” she said, reaching for my bag. “I was ahead of you. Where’s the rest of my order?” she asked the cashier.

“No, sorry, it’s hers,” said the cashier, pulling the bag away from the Tourist Mom and gesturing toward me.

“It can’t be hers. I ordered first!” said Tourist Mom, reaching over the counter for my bag.

And now a murder was about to be committed.

“No, no. Yours is coming. This is hers–hers,” said the cashier again, this time thrusting the bag into my hands.

Tourist Mom turned and glared at me. Hey, not my fault, I glared back. Now, move it, so I can go sit by myself and scarf down my pathetic breakfast, I glared some more.

She moved, then, because I am pretty sure my look was killing her.

I walked past her to find a seat, where I could take five to eat fast and let the healing begin.

As I sat down two tables over from Tourist Mom’s kids, I heard her shout across to them, “Don’t you talk to that lady! Not a word!”

Two pairs of saucer-shaped eyes stared at me. So did the half dozen people in line, for just a second.

I pulled a hash brown out of the bag and took a bite. The kids stared some more.

I sipped some of my juice. Here’s looking’ at you, kids.

I took another bite of the hash brown, and still they stared.

Oh, for God’s sake.

I ate the rest of the hash brown in two bites and closed the bag around the second one. I shrugged on my jacket, wrapped my scarf around my neck, slung my back pack over my shoulder, grabbed my orange juice, and walked out.

The kids kept staring at me, but they minded their mom. They never said a word.

Neither did I.






11 responses to “Don’t Talk to That Lady”

  1. Fat Lazy Guy Avatar

    Oh my gosh. Where was this lady from? Was she an international tourist? I thought everyone knew that long orders take longer to arrive than small orders? Oh, but great choice in breakfast 🙂 I love McDonalds hashbrowns.

  2. cazza Avatar

    Oh, I know that feeling, that intense need for greasies and juice. And the irritation with those who insist on standing IN LINE while making up their minds.

    I admire your restraint. I would have stared at those children and growled at them. And maybe added a twitch or two!

    I guess that’s the difference between Americans and Australians!

  3. Jennifer Avatar

    Don’t you wonder how some people managed through kindergarden? The insipidity of some people amazes me.

  4. Mary Avatar


    “The Restaurant Gal suffering from a double hash-brown hangover wanted to shove this tourist’s sorry, fanny-packed self the hell out of her way.”

    Are you sure it wasn’t a “packed fanny self”? And, when I order as an individual and get my order first, I do kind of feel sorry for those who ordered before me, but dang — a single, simple, order for one is going to be damn quicker than multiple orders for a group!

    That said, and this has happened to me — mainly in sit-down stores — I do get a bit annoyed if a group that arrived after I did (and ordered after I did) is served first.

    Love the blog, and glad to see you’re still gainfully employed 🙂

  5. Girl in a Gamestore Avatar

    You’re much nicer than I’d have been. I would have leaned down and said “Boo!” to the kids as I passed by.

  6. Aaron DeLay Avatar


    You writing rocks. I bow at your feet.

    Your Blogging Worshiper,


    ps> I’m with gamestore girl. I woulda done “BOO!” or something crazy. Just to see…:)

  7. m Avatar

    oh i know those days. and something about me being hungover makes the crazies come out at my local mcdonalds. the last time it was a 60-70yr old couple arguing about her affinity for porn. no hangover and it’s just normal folks. and it’s not a day of the week or time thing, either.

  8. Julie Avatar

    Too funny. When my husband and I go on a road trip, we crave breakfasts just like that. When we give in, we end up paying for it, though. McDonald’s is usually referred to as “McHeartburn” in our household.

  9. jali Avatar

    I really dislike Tourist Mom. Ugh!

    You’re a sweetheart.

  10. Katie Avatar

    Nothing beats a hangover like a big greasy breakfast.

    Sorry lady, even though you may have ordered first, it doesn’t mean your food will be up first. I can’t believe people.

  11. Thija Avatar

    This is soooo funny.

    Those “Two pairs of saucer-shaped eyes”.
    You could have grinned at them, winked and even waved to them from your table. After all you had reason to relax and to be above that … YOU had your breakfast.