I have no dignity left.
Every so often on the road I have a flashpoint where I realize something about myself. On one particular day, I lost my dignity in a dingy parking garage.
I know the exact moment that it happened. I was sitting in the front seat of a nondescript gray rental sedan listening to the static of FM radio trying to stay warm on a 19 degree day.
I was eating mashed potatoes and brown gravy out of a foam cup with a chicken finger for a spoon.
My winter coat was off and spread lining side up because I had no napkins. And no utensils.
I was punting.
Because this was just another “business lunch”.
Not at a white tablecloth restaurant with leather bound menus where I’d be wining and dining a client.
Not even a quick bowl of soup inside at Panera, by myself, while checking my email.
Nope, not today.
Today I was eating drive-thru chicken in a parking garage because it was the only chance I’d have to eat that day. I had landed with plenty of time to spare before my afternoon meeting. And then as I walked to my rental car, I got a message that my client needed me to be on site to an hour earlier.
The sad looking fried chicken chain was the only thing I passed as I drove to the client site. And I had less than fifteen minutes before my meeting.
I drove off and parked, the aroma of grease permeating the car. I found a parking space. Seven minutes to quickly eat.
And then discovered I had no silverware. And no napkins. And no damned honey mustard for my chicken.
Just a tepid cup of mashed potatoes, three soft chicken wings, and a limp biscuit. And a bottle of water.
Consultants punt, because this is a typical travel day for many of us.
I long ago figured out which fast food meals I could eat with one hand while the other is on the steering wheel driving 80 miles per hour trying to make my meeting. I also can, in a pinch, brush my teeth in a parking garage with a gargle of bottled water. And then wash my hands with the same bottle, drying them on the inside carpet of the trunk where I hide the fast food bag as I grab my tote and breeze into the meeting as if nothing had happened, along the way slowly regaining some my dignity.
My client has no clue what has transpired. To them, I’ve just breezed into town to solve the problem put before me.
But the evidence will be there still, that mystery bag that knows my dirty secret.
I am the girl who eats mashed potatoes in her car with a chicken finger spoon. And I’m totally okay with that.