A free lunch

I try to eat fairly healthy. We have never been much of a junk food household. And most of our dinners are homemade affairs that only on occasion involve deep frying wings. (Those occasions are football related, so that counts as healthy.)

Alas, I am not perfect when it comes to eating, in particular when I am left alone. For example, there may have been a time within the last year that my family was out of town and I ate pepperoni pizza for four straight meals. Maybe.

Other times when I find myself eating less than healthy are when I am hurried for lunch. Oftentimes, I come home for a standard turkey sandwich-type lunch. However, when I am rushed, I find myself grabbing a quick bite on the go. And pretty much as a rule, you can’t combine healthy and quick. While I am not a nutritionist, I am just guessing that a gas station hot dog is not exactly the pinnacle of healthy eating. It is the pinnacle of delicious guilty pleasures, but I digress.

So I was in a rush and in need of lunch the other day. I decided I would swing into a drive-through and grab a burger and fries to eat in the car as I traveled to my next appointment. It was right about 12:30, so there line was fairly long. That said, it is fast food, and none of us were going to stump the chef with our orders, so the line would move quickly.

I placed my order and made my way to the first window to pay. The window opened, and the woman told me my total. I extended my hand to give her my bank card. “Oh, our credit card machine is broken,” she said.

Now for plenty of people this would not have been a problem. They would have just handed her some cash and moved along with their transaction.

I am not one of those people. For one thing, I have teenagers. On the rare occasions I do have cash, it usually disappears a few minutes before school starts, when a panicky teen comes to me and says, “Dad! I need $10 for the field trip t-shirt and the order is due today!” Or “Dad! The shaved ice truck is at school today and I need $5 or I will be ostracized by all the kids if I am the only one without a sugary and colorful cup of ice!” Or “Dad! I’m taking money out of your wallet as a constant reminder of how much children cost!”

I told the woman that I did not have any cash. She said, “Oh, well.”


“I’ll void your order. Thank you.” And she went to close the window.


I sat there for a moment trying to figure out what my next move was. And what lunch would be.

At that point, I heard a voice behind the woman. “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!”

A manager emerged and fully opened the window. “Sir, just a moment,” she said.

She turned to the employee. “Yeah, you need to tell people the credit card machine isn’t working.” The employee gave her a rather blank stare.

“Sir, please pull forward and get your order. It’s on us. Have a good day,” she said.

And off I went, free lunch in hand. (Fun fact: There IS such thing as a free lunch!)

My day got immediately a little bit better, as would anyone’s who had just gotten a free burger and fries. Had this been a mom and type of place, I would have gladly gone to a bank machine, gotten some cash and gone back and paid for my order. But I feel fairly confident this company will be McFine.

Now that I’ve had my less than healthy quick-fix lunch, I will try and get back on track and get back to eating healthy. Granted, I know at some point I will have a lapse and I will find myself needing to get a quick bite on the go. Hopefully, I can I find a place where their credit card machines are down.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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