Jean Croker Petke

Road challenges

A few weeks ago I was driving home after a weekend away with family. Mid-point in my drive I decided I needed a drink.

I pulled into the closest McDonald’s. The drive-thru line was long but I welcomed an interstate break. I waited and waited, but the line never moved. Fortunately, it was possible to exit the line so I left without a drink.

Because I was still thirsty, I looked around for other drive-thru options in the vicinity. At Taco Bell only one car was in line. I ordered my diet Coke on the squawk box.

At the window, the young woman refused the money I offered. “There’s no charge,” she said politely. I took the drink she handed me and put my money away. “Why is there no charge,” I asked, not wanting to be ungrateful, but I was certainly curious. “I’m just being nice today,” she replied.

I put the straw in my drink and headed for the interstate. I was feeling very lucky on a warm spring afternoon.

Several miles down the road, I took my first sip, expecting bubbles to tickle my mouth and quench my thirst.

The drink was flat and had very little ice.

So much for a free drink! I suspect the drink had been poured by mistake and had been sitting for awhile. Rather than throw it away, they gave it to me. My lucky feeling quickly turned to one of betrayal. She set me up to be happy with a free drink — but it was undrinkable. She knew I would drive away and hoped I wouldn’t return — and I didn’t because by then I was too far down the road.

Now I was desperate for a drink so I stopped at the next exit for gas and bathroom and beverage. The line in the women’s bathroom was nearly out the door. Another wait. This station, as well as having it’s own self-serve fountain beverages also had a McDonald’s inside. I glanced into McDonald’s but the counter line was too long. Thinking it would be quicker, I opted for filling my own drink at the market’s beverage station.. And it would have been had it not been for the woman standing in front of the drink machine trying to unwrap her straw. She worked and worked, oblivious that anyone else might want to get a drink. I didn’t say anything to her because by now I realized my attempts to get a cold bubbly drink had been thwarted at every turn.

I stepped aside and look at other merchandise while keeping my eye on her. Once she moved away, I made a bee-line for the beverage machine and filled the largest cup I could find, then moved to the adjacent counter to fix my lid and straw.

Some days things just go wrong. While we often can’t fix it, we can work toward a satisfactory, though perhaps not ideal, remedy. I savored my cold bubbly drink for miles and miles.

We have a choice about our attitude when things go wrong — and our attitude is often the only thing we can control. Focus on the solution and the good in the situation.

Until next Tuesday . . .