Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mrs. Fitzgerald Part Two: Taking the Girls to Arby's

This story is part two in a series. Read Part One here.

Mrs. Fitzgerald loved catalog shopping.

She must have received 100 different catalogs, everything from ladies' clothes to whimsical pet gifts to fancy candies. I could see the mail man groaning as he approached her house each day with a mountain of parcels and even more catalogs. Every day was like Christmas as she opened each box and inspected its contents, then just as often decided she didn't like the items or they were the wrong size, and sent them back.

“My niece Mary will love this,” she said to me, holding up a pretty stationary set with parchment-looking paper and old fashioned pen.

“Is it her birthday?” I asked, admiring the items.

“No, this is for Christmas.”

It was March, never too soon to start shopping for Christmas. By the time the actual day arrived, she’d have an enormous stockpile of gifts and a ledger with a long list of who received what that would baffle an accountant. After walking the dogs, I helped her stash away the items in a cabinet then made for the door.

“You hungry?” she asked as my hand touched the door knob. Of course I was hungry, so I nodded. She smiled. “Let’s take the girls down to Arby’s.” At the word “Arby’s,” the dogs faces lit up and they started getting excited. Maggie bounced up and down like a spring and Kelly rubbed against Mrs. Fitzgerald’s legs like a cat. “I’ll just get my purse,” she said. 15 minutes later she had a purse, matching shoes and hat, and the huge old green Buick was pulled out of its place in the garage. As it turned out, Arby’s was one of her favorite places to go, and the dogs were always taken along for the ride and given a half sandwich each. I sat in the passenger seat and had to laugh as they went back and forth, back and forth, in the back seat. They’d look out one window, then urgently have to look out the other window, and this went on for the duration of the ride. We were driving none too swiftly, so more than once an angry young person in a sporty car would ride our tail, honk, then finally pass.


“I’ll have two barbecue sandwiches and a large fries.”

The man working behind the Arby’s counter gave Mrs. Fitzgerald a blank look and pointed to something in front of the cash register. Thinking he hadn’t heard her, she repeated her order much louder, "I say I'll have two barbecue sandwiches and a large fried!" but she got the same response. “What’s wrong with this dummy?” she said, just as loudly, to me. I looked down and realized that, since the last time she’d been here, the restaurant had installed a touch-screen ordering system. It appeared that you had to push the pictures of the items you wanted, and the guy behind the counter was just there to take your money.

“Here,” I said, “You push what you want to order on this screen.” I pointed to the image of the barbecue sandwich.

Her face was all confusion, and annoyance. “But I told him what I wanted. What’s the problem?” she asked me. Seeing the line of grumbling people growing behind us, I quickly selected our items on the touch-screen menu and told her the total amount due. She handed the attendant the cash and wondered how I knew the price. I showed her on the screen and she shook her head. As we walked out of the restaurant with our bag of goodies, a few customers looked askance as she said, “I swear, the quality of people working in these places today!”

To read Part Three of this story CLICK HERE.