“I don’t suppose we could eat at Mc Donald’s, you know, Mac and Donald’s fine supper club?” She rolls her eyes and doesn’t bother to respond. I shrug off my discomfort and ask her to order me two double cheeseburgers without onions and pickles.
The fast food establishment is packed with people. There are no clean or open seats. There is however one table that has only one individual eating by himself. He is a middle aged white man wearing a blue flannel shirt and stained blue jeans. A pro bass fishing hat fits loosely on his poorly combed hair.
“Pardon me, there isn’t any tables open. Do you mind if we sit here?” He looks up and blinks a few times; it’s obvious he isn’t a morning person.
He waves absently at the open seats. Not knowing what to say I mutter, “My name is Greg.”
He doesn’t seem interested. He continues to eat his burger and simply says, “Fred.”
I should have been quiet but sometimes I don’t know when to stop talking. I look down at my watch and notice that I only had 15 minutes to eat. The capital building is 5 blocks away and will take me roughly 8 minutes to walk.
“What do you do Fred?” My wife comes to the table and gives me two cheeseburgers. She doesn’t acknowledge Fred outside of a nod and makes a few noises of pleasure as she plows down her chicken sandwich. I notice my cheeseburger has onions on it, instead of throwing it I try to pick off the onions with a plastic fork. There is a long line at the cashier which makes it pointless to try to fix it.
Fred rolls his eyes as he watches me pick off the onions, “I’m a machinist for Crown Cork and Seal.” He doesn’t say anything more.
After a few seconds I ask, “Sorry, I don’t know who they are?”
It is obvious he doesn’t like conversing and I regret picking this table, “Does it matter?” He pauses and after eating a few fries continues, “Sorry, I’m having a bad week. I work for Coca Cola in Minnesota. I fix machines at a factory. If you don’t mind I have to be leaving because I have to help set up a stage. I’m supposed to be on vacation but my son volunteered me to help with some big event. I’m going to be late.” He gets up and quickly leaves, half his food is still on the tray.
I look at my wife and dryly comment, “I don’t think he liked me.” She happily continues to eat and shrugs.
Looking down at my two cheeseburgers, I feel queasy and anxious, my stomach starts to turn and I can’t finish eating. A homeless guy picks the scraps off of Fred’s tray. The staff at Burger King doesn’t care. Instead of feeling disgusted I give a different homeless person my second cheeseburger that is loaded with onions.
My wife quizzically mentions, “You are going to get hungry before lunch! Sorry they didn’t get the order right.”
Looking over my shoulder I whine and half jokingly answer, “Maybe I will eat at Mac Donald’s when we are done; they are cleaner and know how to make a burger!” The homeless person thanks me as we leave. He immediately eats the sandwich in three bites. I briefly wonder if karma will ever pay me back for helping people like that.