Dateline 1983. T’was the week before Christmas, and in the era before online shopping everyone had been out buying gifts. No one felt like cooking on top of all that shopping, so the restaurants were doing well.
We were on the line in a fast food restaurant, a Jack-in-the-Box. Our eight-month-old son was with us. Our son was born with a tumor that restricted his use of his left hand, and was seeing physical therapist, who recommended we get him a squeaky toy. And since his hand was so weak, we were told to get him a dog toy, as they are easier to squeak.
We’d gone to the supermarket and looked at the dog toys in the pet supplies aisle. A squeaky newspaper? No. Squeaky bone? No. Squeaky steak? No. But the realistic squeaky hamburger appealed to us, because at least did not look like it was intended for Fido. We bought that one. He loved it and we carried it with us while we were out.
Back to the Jack-in-the-Box. The line was out the door, and the crew was working flat-out in the sort of adrenaline-fueled zone where you’re giving 110 percent even though it’s not enough. When we got our order I could see that the tired, hungry shoppers had become grouchy and had started taking it out on the poor fast food workers. It was hardly a cheerful scene of good will and peace on earth!
So I decided to do something about that.
After we were seated I took one of the burger wrappers and wrapped it around the squeaky hamburger. Then I went up to the counter and in a very irritated voice asked to speak to the manager.
The poor harried manager came to the counter warily. “Yes, what seems to be the problem?”
I held up the burger and quickly unwrapped it. “This hamburger is like rubber!” I complained, and then dropped it on the counter.
Every worker behind the counter and every customer who saw that bounce went silent, and stopped breathing. The manager looked absolutely horrified.
Then I picked up the burger, grinned, and squeaked it.
After a moment of shock, my audience, on both sides of the counter, started laughing until they wheezed or cried. Good cheer was restored. My work here was done.
And they heard me exclaim as I drove out of sight, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a – good grief that was funny.”