Red-faced at A&W

Has this ever happened to you? I had just given my order at a drive-up A&W at the intersection of I-5 and Highway 34, coming back from a job fair at Chemeketa Community College. It was already around 8 pm. I hadn’t had much to eat all day. No time, too many butterflies in the stomach. I hadn’t planned to stop because I wanted to get home in time to watch the Grey’s Anatomy season finale. Priorities, you know? So I’m at this drive-up at this ancient eatery in need of a paint job, and I have told the invisible young man in the speaker that I want a regular root beer, regular hot dog and regular fries. I’m just a regular girl, aren’t I? Not exactly a healthy meal, but it had been a long day.

As the voice was confirming my order, I thought to look in my wallet to see what configuration of bills I would use to pay for my food. Oh no! All I had was one dollar bill and a few nickels and dimes. The twenty I got at the grocery store on Wednesday was in the pocket of my heavy coat, which was at home, this being an unusually warm day. I couldn’t even afford the root beer. I tried to explain to the voice that I had to cancel my order. Like one of those computer voices on the telephone, he kept saying he didn’t understand. Would I please confirm my order? After the third try, I simply drove out of line and back onto the highway, still hungry, thoroughly embarrassed and five minutes later than I wanted to be. I never did see the source of the voice. For all I know, it really was a computer speaking to me.

Now if I had not cared about the TV show, I could have eaten at a sit-down restaurant that took credit cards. No problem. Or if I had checked my funds earlier, I could have used the ATM at the college. But no, there I was, bigshot writer with one dollar and change, fleeing from the A & W.

Earlier that afternoon, I was guest speaker at Kitty Pavlish’s writing research class at Oregon Coast Community College. That fluffed my ego up so nicely, I decided to go for the job fair in Salem, looking for teaching jobs to supplement my writing. I was doomed to be late, even though I drove like a maniac, but I managed to speak to people about distance education, jobs in the English department, and community education courses. I came out of there excited about the possibilities. They’re actually looking for teachers, and it’s a great college, all red brick and new, in a beautiful green setting.

By the time I got home, I knew I couldn’t do that commute on a regular basis unless I earned a lot of money. It’s two hours minimum each way and most of a tank of gas, but I did learn some things that should help me wherever I teach.

Meanwhile, I missed the first 15 minutes of my show and then they had to end it with both Izzie and George apparently dying, George looking like raw meat after he got hit by a bus. Lovely thing to watch before bedtime. Why couldn’t he just ride off into the sunset?

During a commercial, I emptied my coat pockets: $20, a wolf keychain I bought two weeks ago,two dead AA batteries from my camera, and a smaller battery whose origin I do not know. If you think that’s bad, you ought to see my car!

Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, Childless by Marriage, and Up Beaver Creek. Most recently, I have published two poetry chapbooks, Gravel Road Ahead and The Widow at the Piano: Confessions of a Distracted Catholic. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

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