Choose Wisely

Choose Wisely

A Story by Dutch

Everyday human drama played out for an audience of one.


Already mid-morning and I’m sailing west on corridor X adrift in rural Mississippi somewhere between the Alabama state line and Memphis.  My bladder’s signaling it’s unwillingness to wait any longer for a much needed bio-break.  Reluctantly I thumb ZZ-Top’s “Rough Boy” down a notch, close the sun roof, and hit the blinker for the next exit.  My little silver Golf turbo-diesel glide’s down the off-ramp leaving the long winding ribbon of westward bound highway behind.  

Scanning a row of fast food restaurants and truck stop signs for potential facilities “de jure” I’m quickly rewarded.  Ahhhhhhhhh, there we are, Mickey D’s will do.  What was that catchy jingle a few years back, “You deserve a break today, so get up and get away to McDonald’s……” As a matter of fact, yesssss I will.

Feels good to step out of the Golf, stretch my 6’2” frame, and feel the warmth of the sun on my shaved head. Shaking off some of the trip induced stiffness I gaze toward the pine tree topped horizon. What a drop dead absolutely beautiful Spring day!  Bright sunshine, cotton candy clouds, and ocean blue sky as far as the eye can see…..Mmmmmmmm very nice. Almost noon and the mid-morning cool is quickly giving way to what’s sure to become sultry mid-day Mississippi heat.

Passing through the glass double doors I find myself in the middle of a large rural Mississippi lunch crowd. Red dirt stained construction workers, 20-something Mom’s with their 1.5 children, and a large number of senior citizens be-decked in matching pastels, plaid short-sleeve shirts, and Wallmart Wrangler jeans, all patiently waiting their turn in long lines.

The comfortable smell of freshly cooked French fries and grilling burgers immediately assaults my senses.  Just within reach of my goal and pressure’s mounting.  I step lightly toward the back of the room threading my way through the crowd hoping for not-so-full facilities. How do you spell relief?  Wheeeeeeeeeew. That’s how I spell it.  Zip up, wash up, shuffle to the door, Major D’s coming back for more.

Not usually up for a fast-food fix I quickly succumb to the alluring aroma of those fresh hot fries, a big McTasty, and a very large McSweet tea. Don’t’ you get McTired of McDonald’s using Mc in front of everything on the damn McMenu?  I sure as hell McDo.  Wish they would McStopit before we’re McScarred for life…...  Too late, but that’s another time, another story.

One sip of my extra large sweet tea should have been enough to put me right into a diabetic coma…..Daaaaaaamn! And I don’t even HAVE diabetes. Sweet enough to make my teeth hurt.  When will they learn to go easy on the sugar.  More is not always better. I find an empty, and as of yet, unclean booth and slide in facing the front of the room.  Just a little microcosm of “me” time on the road, again, to somewhere else.

I didn’t notice them at first. Like the people around me I was too busy unwrapping my 99 cent heart attack, savoring that first bite of flame broiled burger, sweet tomato catsup, and a hot salty fry, lost in worrisome thought.  They were just another late 60’s/early 70-something, gray haired senior couple taking time for a quick McLunch on their way to see the McGrandkids.  Then I notice the look on the older man’s furrowed face.  He's uncomfortable in the cacophony of the noon lunch rush, decidedly out of place, furtively glancing from side-to-side. The old man tightly grips his wife’s hand for as they make their way across the crowded room. Leading the way she gently squeezes his hand and speaks soft words of reassurance. The two had my undivided attention. My lunch takes a second seat to innate curiosity.

Slowly settling into a booth with his back toward the crowd the old man stares into the distance. A thousand yard stare in a 50 foot room.  I’ve seen that look before, or one very much like it, on battle weary soldiers.  It’s haunting, and out of place for the setting.  

Placing a loving hand across his stooped shoulder the old man’s wife kneels to look into his watery blue eyes and ask him about lunch. A dark cloud passes across the old man’s face. Nervously rubbing his hands together he struggles to find an answer to his wife’s simple question. The answer never comes. She waits a short while longer then stands, kisses his cheek, whispers it’s okay, and slowly make’s her way to the counter.

Even across a crowded room I could feel the warmth, caring, and love between the gray haired couple.  The old man obviously suffers from some form of dementia. Their entire exchange took less than a minute. Totally oblivious, uncaring, or both, the rural crowd surrounding the couple mentally motors on.  A human drama played out on a beautiful spring day, for an audience of one……

My attention returns to a less than appetizing lukewarm lunch and my thoughts turn inward.  We’re all familiar with the phrase: For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…...  Though I doubt few of us truly understand the weight of those words.  That is, until faced with our own personal adversity, much like the old gray haired couple, we’re forced to plumb the depths of choices made earlier in life.  My thought for the day, choose wisely. 

What waits just around the next bend in the road for each of us is a mystery.  I am, however,  acutely aware microcosm “me” time has long since past and I’m feeling the push to return to the highway.  I roll up a cold burger and fries in bright yellow grease stained paper and pitch it in the garbage on the way out the door.

© 2011 Dutch

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An everyday occurance that doesn't get the recognition it should, written beautifully :)

Posted 9 Years Ago

u write beautifully. it has great flow.

Posted 10 Years Ago

ok you won my heart and attention with this paragraph.........of those fresh hot fries, a big McTasty, and a very large McSweet tea. Don’t’ you get McTired of McDonald’s using Mc in front of everything on the damn McMenu? I sure as hell McDo. Wish they would McStopit before we’re McScarred for life…... Too late, but that’s another time, another story........

You are a wonderful writer, good to see you here at WC

Posted 10 Years Ago

Top of the Afternoon!

I travel extensively and as a result am blessed with an abundance of write-worthy people, places, and events. I also do my own photography. This story presented itself on my way to Memphis, TN for business.

Please take a few minutes to read the above piece and let me know what you think. I hope you find some homegrown humor as well as food for thought in what I write.

All the BEST to you and yours!

Warm Regards,


Posted 10 Years Ago

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4 Reviews
Added on August 31, 2011
Last Updated on September 2, 2011
Tags: travel, couples, lunch, aging, love, devotion



Nawth West, AL

Ex-military, high tech, white collar country boy striving for that perfect balance between work and play, but not quite there.....;) Enjoy the smell of fresh cut hay, long distance Harley rides, fine.. more..