Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Own McHell

In university, I spent a few summers working near Vancouver in illustrious summer occupations, such as Box Packer, Internet Teacher to People Who Don't Know How To Use A Mouse, and the ever-popular Key to Deadbolt Matcher. This was in my public transit phase; I had to ride the bus and skytrain every day.

It usually took at least two transfers to get where I was working, yet no matter what time of day it was or what bus route it was, if I was lucky enough to get a window seat I was also lucky enough to sit at the window with the greasy head smear. For reasons unbeknowst to me, people seem to have a need to rest their oily heads against the window and sleep. It looked like someone had thrown a bowl of well-oiled angel hair pasta at the bus window. Napping bus riders = non-hair-washing bus riders = me barfing in my mouth.

I'd drown out the possibility of inane stranger small talk by retreating within via the help of a little Led Zeppelin II or the soundtrack to Annie on my yellow Sony Walkman. One day even my Walkman couldn't protect me from the bus riding grease stains or crazies when, thinking I could avoid the pomaded public transit porthole by sitting in the aisle seat, a man holding the bar behind my head became entangled in my hair. After some tugging, apologizing (on his part), and retching (on my part), he was free to leave the bus and I was free to relive the nightmare for years to come. Even though my bus rides these days are part of school field trips, I still tie my hair up whenever I board.

Living in a small town (that thankfully lacks public transit with greasy windows) affords few options for grocery shopping. I shop twice a month, making the 45 minute trek to The Big City (just kidding, we only go to Chilliwack) a full day event. I save all my errands for Shopping Day, but with so many stops to make I find it helps to bribe my kids let my kids know that we'll have a special lunch and stop at a playground. Most days we get take out and have a picnic at a park. Some days the weather fights my plans and we find indoor places to play and eat.

The most recent Shopping Day was too hot to play outside, so we went to McDonald's, to the extreme joy of Maya and Ben. Really, Maya was extremely joyous, and Ben. . .well, Ben will smile and put his hand up to agree to anything.

"Who wants to go to McDonald's?" Ben smiles and puts his hand up.

"Who wants to play on the slide?" Ben smiles and puts his hand up.

"Who wants a bath?" Ben smiles and puts his hand up.

"Who wants a kick in the pants?" Ben smiles and puts his hand up. Bless his heart. He's sweet, that boy of mine.

The play area is a separate room, sealed off so as to not frighten the non-parents who may be dining in the fine establishment. It's roughly 5 degrees warmer in the play area and smells of kid sweat. To add to the whole enjoyable experience, McDonald's lovingly pipes in non-stop kids' music. Not the stomachable kids' music, like the Jonas Brothers. The kind with banjos and annoying character voices, following three basic themes: pets, sandwiches, and weather. Maya wanted to sit at the special table with the hamburger head stools. Turns out those hamburger heads are really meant to hold children's bottoms, because I was sodomized by hamburger eyeballs all through lunch. Good times.

It was within this McHell that I was forced to relive my bus riding days. I watched Maya carefully help Ben manoeuvre the playground, lifting him up when he couldn't quite reach, coaxing him through the tunnels, teaching him to scream and pound on the playground plastic windows. And it was at that exact moment of screaming, pounding, and pressing of faces against the plastic that I suddenly noticed how absolutely filthy it was in there. Greasy, grimy hand and nose prints, like the greasy, grimy head prints on the bus. My feet stuck to the floor, like the random guy stuck in my hair. I panicked.

And so we left. Right then. And I vowed never to return. Next Shopping Day we're eating in the Jeep with the A/C and Dave Matthews blasting.

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