Here’s an embarrassing story I just remembered:
Sometimes (and what I really mean is everytime) I will get so flustered that I’m going to do something awkward and embarrassing that I END UP ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING AWKWARD AND EMBARRASSING. And this story was one of those times…
Once upon a pandemic we wanted Chinese food. So okay what’s the safest thing to do here? We have one Panda Express x miles away with a drive thru… but everyone and their convertible uses the Morris Farms Panda drive thru. So Dan put in a take out order for a different have-to-come-inside Panda establishment.
So we load up THE ENTIRE FAMILY in the minivan because THERE’S LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE TO GO AND DO. So family trip to the Panda Express it is. We drive up and park and then Dan hands me a mask and tells me to run in and get it.
I start PANIC SWEATING.
Not because I’m afraid of catching coronavirus.
But because I’m a giant woman-child who can’t do anything by herself.
“Wha-what? You want me to get it? But you usually get it! I don’t even know where to go! So where do you pick it up? Do you pay for it or… okay it’s prepaid… so it’s like just picking up the food and walking out!? Do I need my ID? How are they gonna know I’m your wife?? What if I do it wrong somehow? What if I get in trouble should I call you??”
Dan is getting seriously irritated at me because it’s not like I’m a navy seal securing the area, I’m literally JUST PICKING UP ORANGE CHICKEN AND WALKING OUT.
So I go inside the Panda with my mask on… okay, I don’t know if you’ve been inside a Panda Express in the past year, but they have this military set up. They use their own tables and chairs to BLOCK YOU into the line. And then they very clearly have where you’re supposed to stand marked out on the floor. So as soon as you walk in through the door you’re ushered into the line.
But… okay… I just want to get my take out.
I can literally see the white plastic bag all tied up on a rack WAY at the other end of the line. Like a cheese at the end of the maze. But how am I supposed to get there? Am I really supposed to CUT THE LINE to pick up the food that’s already been ordered. Get my germs into everyone’s personal bubble as I push past them? The idea of cutting the line is basically spiking my blood pressure. I can’t even ask for extra napkins at most places because I do not want to bother anyone. I mean just the very idea that I could be SLIGHTLY inconveniencing someone. Or NOT OBEYING THESE PANDA SAFETY RULES.
So I wait in line.
I can see the food over there getting cold… Dan’s texting me like “R U SERIOUS WHAT’S TAKING YOU SO LONG YOU JUST HAVE TO PICK IT UP.” So now I’m having double anxiety about slightly inconveniencing the Panda Express patrons or slightly inconveniencing my husband by making him wait five minutes.
ALRIGHT FINE. I slide past people in line with about a thousand apologies, get the take out bag, run out of there as if I’m a Pink Panther robber with a briefcase full of jewelry. And I’m dying in the most dramatic way you can think of. And if you’re super annoyed and confused reading this… what’s it like to not have anxiety? Is it nice? Is it peaceful? Can you just walk into stores and pick up Orange Chicken at your leisure? How is that kind of power? I bet you sleep great.
I’m so flustered that I’m just power walking through the parking lot, having a pre-argument with my husband inside my mind. “Yeah, well, you shoulda SEEN IT. The tables and chairs were BLOCKING US ALL INTO THIS ONE LITTLE LINE.”
I get to the car and pull on the handle. Locked. I’m flustered and irritated by my pretend argument so I tap ferociously on the window and point down at the car lock. THEN HE STARTED TO DRIVE AWAY! And I chased him down so angrily. Tapping harder on the window. HELLO! DON’T BE A BUTTHOLE JUST BECAUSE IT TOOK ME A SOLID MINUTE TO WORK UP THE COURAGE TO CUT THE LINE.
And then a stranger rolled down her window. BOISTERIOUSLY laughing.
“I’VE DONE THAT!” she yelled at me.
I really just tried to get into the wrong car. Um. It didn’t even look like my car. Hardly even in the same color palette. So not only did I just spend X amount of minutes FREAKING OUT over the Panda Express rules. (As if the Seinfeld Soup Nazi works at Panda Express.) BUT I ALSO TRIED TO GET INTO A STRANGER’S CAR AND GOT IRRITATED AT HER AS SHE PULLED AWAY.
I slunk back to my ACTUAL car with my tail in between my legs. Dan is laughing and probably also like… k… I’m married to this hot mess wtf.
So, that’s it. I could hardly function before the pandemic. And now it’s just one weird social distance freak out at a time.