Chicken McNuggets and Monday morning car accidents

Yesterday was my first day working with a custom splint on my mallet finger instead of a cast. And it went really well— except for the times I put my splint back on the outside of my hand instead of the inside. And I went to apply fresh tape and the nurse at work wanted to help.

All-in-all, I achieved a new record (for me) in Freestyle, shipping I believe 574 items or 115% of the 500 item goal for a 10-hour shift. And that includes 15 minutes I spent trying to find a work station that was operational. If you subtract that as official “non-production time” it might be damn close to 116%.

Today, a Monday, with the traditional Monday through Friday people at work, I was assigned to a different table in QC, my regular department. It was a table just a smidgeon higher than the table I worked at last week and the line was on the left instead of the right.

This is the first time since my return-to-work in late May that I have worked on the left. In one way, it’s nice because I have been having issues with the stability of my walk and control in my right leg, so working on the left means I can use my left side more.

But working on the left side means I’m shoving all those boxes with my injured hand and after two hours the cuticle area under my nail on my injured finger is tender and really red. Despite this, at one point this morning, I reached 118%.

But then I got a call from The Teenager. She rear-ended someone in her father’s 2022 Kia SUV. The car he bought after he rear-ended someone in late December and totaled his beloved 2016 Nissan Juke.

She’s fine. It was raining and she misjudged how long it would take her to stop in the wet. The car looked driveable, but when she tried it started leaking fluid and overheating. So, she called AAA to tow it.

I left work early. At four hours into my shift, I think I had QCed 69 fixes, and goal for that specific time of day is 65. That’s with going out to my car to get info for my daughter, calling her father, and similar nonsense.

I was listening to an episode of business wars, the podcast, or was it The History Channel’s The Food that Built America and the history of Burger King vs. McDonald’s and the invention of the Chicken McNugget.

Now I distinctly remember the debut of the Chicken McNugget, which, according to the podcast, became available at all McDonalds in 1983.

I was eight. Probably riding around with my mom in her 1979 Camaro (black). We lived in a very rural area in Pennsylvania’s Slate Belt. The closest actual town was Portland, Pa., which I feature in my first novel, Manipulations (and if you are interested you can buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, or at Bookshop.org here — the Bookshop price includes shipping and designates a portion of the profit to an independent bookseller of your choice).

Anyway, we had a very small supermarket in Portland so my mom would do most of her family shopping in Stroudsburg, Pa., the gateway to the Pocono Mountains. If she were shopping at Kmart for clothes or household items or at Shoprite for our groceries, we would often stop at Burger King where the delight would be a cheeseburger and some onion rings.

But if we had to go to the Stroud Mall, McDonald’s was across the street. So we want to McDonald’s. I didn’t like McDonald’s — they put onions on their burgers and I don’t like onions. So, eight-year-old me was very excited for these Chicken McNuggets. If my mom was in a good mood, I could order a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. Which— in the eighties— came with six nuggets in a styrofoam container. And of course, I only liked the barbecue sauce.

So the podcast got me thinking about McDonald’s in general especially since I worked at a McDonald’s (a very busy McDonald’s) from the summer I graduated high school until the August after I graduated college.

We made $5.25/hour in the late 1990s. A full-time employee made $200/week. And we got one meal per shift. I ate a lot of McChicken sandwiches.

I’m thinking about McDonald’s and listening to Conan O’Brian and Andrew Gurza (not together although that would be amazing), when I get the phone call with the teenager in tears.

“Mom, I rear-ended someone in Dad’s new car.”

This was her first car accident. It’s a rainy day here and she misjudged how far she needed to stop. And she didn’t want to slam on her brakes harder and lose control of the car.

At first, she and the police officer who responded thought the car was driveable. It started leaking what looked like antifreeze and overheated. So the officer called AAA.

I told my Stitch Fix supervisors the situation and asked to leave.

The teenager told me she was on a side street “out by Target” “by the library” and I misinterpreted her and went to the wrong town.

The teenager texted me a photo of the nearest intersection and I realized my mistake and turned around.

A very kind officer waited with her and I drove her to the dog walking client she had been driving to when the accident happened.

And then I grabbed us lunch at McDonald’s because their triple cheeseburger is my favorite sandwich on the menu and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Food (like homemade boba tea) and rest on the first official day of recovery

Today was a day of recovery. I literally fell on my ass yesterday and have a sore bottom today in addition to my mallet finger and hip pain.

My boss sent me an email acknowledging that I should be on leave at least through May 24. I am going to maintain good sleep habits, drink lots of water, eat all the fruits and vegetables, and with the help of my medical team and personal trainer Andrew at Apex Training, hopefully not only recover but improve.

Emotionally it’s hard not to guilt myself for not finding a way to continue working, but the two falls I’ve had in the last four days prove that I am doing the right thing. My boss was even kind enough to say that he knows this has been a “roller coaster for me.” I am grateful to have such kind coworkers from my second shift team at the Bizzy Hizzy.

I watched some of the teenager’s favorite anime, Haikyu!. And I gave the birds new toys.

But it was a nice eating day so I will share with you.

Breakfast was a cup of Supercoffee, a bowl of Cabot cottage cheese and a taste-test of sesame mochi that I bought at 9th Street Asian Market last night on our outing to Stroudsburg. It turned out to be exactly the food I have been trying to identify for years.

I even made a silly video.

Then for a late morning snack I cooked some tapioca for boba (also a purchase from last night that I have never had the opportunity to play with before.) The teenager got two flavors of the popping bubbles— kiwi and honey. And I also bought a can of melon flavored sweetened condensed milk.

I boiled the black tapioca pearls per the directions and added my own home brewed unsweetened iced tea, some milk and ice to a wide mouthed mason jar. Then I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of the honey popping bubbles and a teaspoon of the melon milk. The melon milk is amazing. Finally I stirred in the pearls.

I was very happy with my first attempt.

The teenager made some crusted salmon to go with leftover rice and Thai peanut salad. That was our late lunch.

And after a quick run to the Dollar Tree and Grocery Outlet, (I needed a pill organizer to remind me to take my vitamins and allergy medicine now that I won’t be tossing them in my work lunches) I mixed some of my homemade roasted red pepper hummus with harissa and Hungryroot’s “fresh salsa” which is more like diced tomatoes, onions and peppers, to enjoy with a massive glass of unsweetened iced tea and PF Pita Chips, also a Grocery Outlet find.

It certainly wasn’t an exciting day, but it was a restful day and sometimes that is the best place to start on the road to recuperation.

Stroudsburg Saturday Night

It’s a little before 9 a.m. and the creatures in my bedroom, which probably could more accurately be called an aviary as there are more birds sleeping there than people, let me sleep in until almost 7 o’clock.

I have a load of laundry started and I washed and cleaned some floors, with roomba’s help. The cats are fed and the dishes are going.

I had the pleasure of hanging out last night with my good friend Bill, also known as Billy Crash from Crash Palace Productions.

Bill has a horror-themed blog focused on horror movies and I don’t hesitate to say he is an expert on the genre. He was just lamenting last night that he hadn’t seen a movie worthy of inclusion on his “best of” lists since 2016.

To read more of Billy’s work—he has lots of degrees, used to be a college professor and has enough eclectic interests to either intrigue or piss off just about everybody, visit Crash Palace Productions.

I’ve written for him a few times: Search results for me on Bill’s site.

He and his partner-in-crime have a podcast, too.

So, anyway, there I go getting sidetracked again. Bill and I had dinner and drinks last night as I’ve been dying to try Banter’s Hard Cider which is in Stroudsburg, Pa. I think Bill might be their biggest fan.

First of all, being a good cockatoo mama, I got Nala a new toy to entertain her while I was gone.

After Bill and I had the preliminary getting-caught-up chatter, we headed downtown. Stroudsburg is an odd little university town that thanks to the influx of people from higher priced housing markets has struggled with a clear identity in the 40+ years of my life.

Banter’s is a very small establishment with various home-concocted ciders. The service is excellent, the atmosphere jovial and the staff knows their stuff, which in this case is cider.

The first time you visit, Banter’s suggests a tasting flight. They serve the flight from dry to sweet to dessert, and currently one peppery oddball in the middle, Green Drank.

The first selection was Bön, a dry cider with a flavor reminiscent of champagne. Of the unflavored ciders, I prefer Bön to the sweeter more typical Overcast.

The third selection was Jack Horner, so named for the plum in the mix. I enjoyed this definitely more than Overcast, as at this point sweet hard ciders have become a boring norm.

But Green Drank blew them out of the water. It starts as a semi-dry cider with kiwi, jalapeño and bell pepper. It smells peppery, but the spice was milder than it sounds. It was like a tickle in the throat versus full-out heat. Loved it, contemplated bringing home a growler.

But I didn’t. Because I’d have to drink it. And with the stress I’ve been under I didn’t think a growler in the house was a good idea.

Next came Dippins, the salted caramel cider. Delicious. Amazingly delicious. But I don’t think I could drink a whole glass unless I got one of the cocktails where they cut it with chocolate vodka. But… I’m not a fan of vodka. Or chocolate.

That left Deez Coconuts. Probably my second favorite after Green Drank. Coconut and chocolate notes. I couldn’t taste the chocolate, but I didn’t really want to. My favorite beer ever is Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout, and I think I prefer my chocolate as stout, not in cider.

As I finished the flight, Bill asked if I had picked my favorite and if I was ready for a glass or a cocktail to which I promptly responded, “Not without dinner.”

So we went to La Morena BBQ, which is Mexican-influenced Portuguese food. And I had a tender, flavorful beef Baracoa sandwich and the French fries Bill has proclaimed the best in Stroudsburg.

Then we returned to Banter’s where I met some of Bill’s friends. It was incredibly delightful to meet Bill’s housemate, because he had told me so many wonderful things about her. The other gentleman was nice, too, but he dissed Eminem and I was too tired to start defending one of my favorite public figures.

Which that might be a great post for another day.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

**This post got interrupted and started again at 11 a.m. as my mom and I had a really lovely coffee date in my kitchen. Hey, Mom. That was really nice. Can we do it again soon?