Sunday, July 24, 2011

Life in the Fast (Food Drive Through) Lane

My dog, Marlowe, is a french fry snob. I discovered this after I was laid off. This quirk of his personality lay hitherto hidden from me while I was working full time because I didn't take the the time to drive all the way down to the drive-through fast food chains. The town I live in has not sanctioned drive-throughs for their fast food establishments, thinking that it will draw the wrong element to their town. I am not sure exactly what the wrong element is, because, well, there you have it, or rather there you don't. The nearest drive-through fast food restaurant is about seven miles away from me down by the freeway. I pass four or five food chains along the way, not including the ones in the mall, just to get to one with a drive-through. But you can't take a dog into those. Hence, the drive to the drive-throughs.



I never took the time before to drive all the way down for the pleasure of an In-N-Out hamburger and fries while I was working. The drive down and back alone takes at least a half an hour. Then there's the line. I can always tell the wait time not by the number of cars in line, but whether they have someone outside taking your order curbside. That's a sure sign the wait is going to be at least a half an hour.

When I was working, I didn't have the time, I didn't take the time, to wait in this long line. Dinner often was at eight o'clock or later and more often than not either a bowl of cereal or a bowl of rice. Taking the time to wait in line was something I could do now. Now I had the time to waste. No, that's not exactly right, wasting time. But it feels close.

I am filling time. I am filling time to get through the day. Time expands. Time abhors a vacuum-- or some other clich├ęd saying. I do not want to be at home staring at the walls knowing I should be at work. I do not want to be looking at the clock thinking what I would be doing at work at this time---mark. Or that time--mark. We measure time in beats, we mark time in measures. I still feel that I have a stopwatch monitoring my time and how I spend it. I am filling the day.

I have spent my time by visiting all the fast food chains down by the freeway. I am not a fan of one over the other. And I tend to not vary my menu. I am a creature of habit, even though I know this is my time to spread my wings and try new things. I know what my body likes. I know what is good for me. And frankly, let's face it, fast food is probably not high on that list.

I always get fries though. Fries have salt and potassium (and, yes, deep fried oil). But here in the heat of the desert, I know when my body needs salt and potassium. I don't know when I started giving Marlowe fries. I think it was because he sat when I asked him to and this was his reward.

But Marlowe is particular. We all have known dogs who don't mind from where their food comes. If a morsel is dropped on the floor, it's snatched up, chewed and swallowed before you have a chance to say "Leave it." Our last dog was like that. The sound of the can opener would send him barreling in from the backyard. Our family swore he had supersonic hearing and speed. He could hear food being prepared from anywhere in the house and be right under your feet before you even closed the cupboard door.

Marlowe is not that kind of dog. He has to be invited to eat, he has to be told it's ok to to eat. Before I rescued him some training in his past life with his previous owners has made him wary around food. Maybe because of his time on the streets he developed food aggression. Maybe what little training he had centered around food. I am not sure. But I do know that he no longer has any food aggression, I would say more like food submission.

Marlowe has never begged for food. He never roots around in the bag looking for the fries before I hand him one. He will sit and patiently wait until I give him one. He is a very polite co-pilot. The perfect fast food drive-through companion.

Which is why I was surprised when after wanting a change from burgers I went to McDonald's for a fish sandwich, and fries, of course, Marlowe sniffed at the proffered fry and then turned his back on me and stared out the window. The perfect snub. A sniff, a fling of the shoulder, a turn, and the cold stare off into the distance. He was not at all interested in these new fries, these non-In-N-Out fries. I was going to say I was frankly perplexed, but truth be told, it was the first time I had had a bag of fries to myself in awhile. And I was going to enjoy it. Turned out I couldn't finish the whole thing by myself though. I had gotten used to sharing the bag of fries with Marlowe.

My perfect co-pilot.

I have thought about switching seats the next time we order at In-N-Out just to see what the curbside attendant would say when they see a dog in the driver's seat, but I haven't done it yet. Maybe next time.

I have the time.


Marlowe in line at In-N-Out. We have ordered "his" fries!


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