When I was a kid, I started working in construction as a laborer. It was hot and it was hard work, but I used to make twice as much money as my friends who had more traditional after-school jobs, so I kept at it. Still, I looked forward to the day when I could get up in the morning, head out to an air-conditioned office, and spend the day working in comfort.
Boy-oh-boy, how life has changed. Now, I sometimes go days without seeing the sun or taking a walk outside, mostly because I lose track of time. First, I start my day by writing, and then it’s lunchtime; after lunch I go back to finish one last thing, and then it’s dinner. The next day is the same, and so on. I know it sounds strange to lose big chunks of time like that, but if you write regularly, you probably know what I’m talking about.
The first time it happened to me, it was winter in Florida, which more closely resembles a cool summer anywhere else. We really only have two seasons, rainy hot summer, and not so rainy-not so hot summer. It was one of those Florida winter days that I woke up before the sun, got ready for work, and headed out the door for an early start. Yes, I used to get into the office early so I could get some writing done before the workday began. I almost never got to work early to get actual work done.
About forty-five minutes after settling in behind the keyboard, I felt some pretty strong hunger pangs, strong enough that it brought me out of my writing world. Back then, I was a one-man show and there weren’t many distractions; it was easy to get lost in the words. Phones, problems, customer complaints, all vanish unless they had a part to play in my writing world. It was a glorious way to start the day and the beginning of a habit I still enjoy today.
As for the hunger pangs, while not being a part of my writing world, somehow they got my attention. My grumbling gut was not to be denied. So I hit the save button and decided to go to Burger King for some breakfast. This was years ago when BK Lounge was better than McDonald’s (I think they both blow today). It was still dark and I figured that if I hurried, I might have enough time left to do some more writing before having to suffer another tedious workday.
To save time I went to the drive through. I was planning to order my usual, two sausage and cheese sandwiches (no egg, I hate eggs) and a large cup of coffee, then bring it back to the office. But the menu board wasn’t working so I had to drive up to the first window to place my order. The teenage girl slid the pass-through window open and asked me for my order and when I gave it to her . . . she just looked at me like I was from another planet. At first, I didn’t think much of it because, well, she was a teenager working a full shift at BK lounge. If she were one of the sharper tools in the shed, she’d be on her way to school, or at least waiting for a bus to take her there. After all, it was a school day. I figured she couldn’t cut it in high school and recognized her limitations early enough to start forging a career in cashiering, so I cut her some slack and repeated my order. She just kept staring at me like I was morphing into my true alien form right before her unimpressed and very condescending teenage eyes.
The next thing I knew, there was a twenty-something pimple faced guy standing next to her. His badge said, Assistant Manager Dave. Dave looked at me (Davyd), straight in the eye and said with as sincere a voice as a condescending twenty-something-assistant-manager could muster, “Sir, we aren’t serving breakfast anymore, it’s dinnertime.”
A moment or two later, both burger professionals realized that I was in the process of realizing what time of day it was, and when they did, they couldn’t help themselves, they started to laugh. I could hear two or three others behind the fry cooker laughing too. And yes, there were customers inside waiting to place orders and shaking their heads, wondering about the moron at the drive through. I could see them in the convex mirror behind the cash registers. I couldn’t see clear enough to tell if they were laughing but I think it’s safe to assume here.
Anyway, I finally boarded the here-and-now train with everyone else, ordered two whopper meals, and then pretended as if nothing happened. Why two meals? Simple. One to eat on the way back to my office and one to eat while I worked. I was starving and apparently, I hadn’t eaten anything all day—also, I still had a lot of writing to do.
True story. Has this, or something like it, ever happen to you?