So on one of the final days of the recent car trek across America, Robyn Furman and I stopped at a McDonald’s in Jean, Nevada.
I don’t care much for McDonald’s. But, when you’re driving through the desert and there’s nothing but dust and rock for hundreds of miles, one takes what he can get. The golden arches were an oasis, and as we pulled off I-15 onto Primm Road, I knew exactly what I wanted: An Egg McMuffin, sans meat, and a low-fat iced mocha.
We were the only customers on the drive-thru line. I pulled up to the microphone.
Them: “Welcome to McDonald’s. Can I take your order?”
Me: “Yeah, I’ll take a low-fat iced mocha …”
Them: “Our mocha machine isn’t functioning.”
Me: “Dang. OK, I’ll take a large chocolate milk shake …”
Them: “Our shake machine is broken.”
Me: “Man. OK, I’ll just have an Egg McMuffin without meat and …”
Them: “I’m sorry. We stopped serving breakfast at 10:30.”
I was exasperated. Not pissed or jerkish. Just a bit bummed. So I uttered the next thing to enter my cranium, which was—without scorn or anger—”Man, you’re breaking my heart here …” Then I ordered the No. 11 (I think), a grilled chicken sandwich with fries and a beverage.
As I rolled up to the window I was greeted by Dana, a young woman who smiled at me. I reached for my money and she said, “Your meal is free. I hate the idea of breaking your heart …”
Robyn and I were both taken aback. “Are you sure?” I said.
We received the grub and drove off.
Say what you will about McDonald’s. Say what you will about Jean, Nevada and Primm Road. Sometimes kindness—even a small act like a free meal—goes a super long way in changing a mood, bringing forth happiness, making people realize that (drought and Ebola and Iraq and Israel-Palestine be damned) there are good things in the world, and good folks in the world.
Dana made certain I remembered that.