Friday, December 9, 2016

My New Found Love for McDonald's

I have always seen myself as a happy-go-lucky type of guy. I am not someone who really gets depressed. Very few things actually upset me and I can recover very quickly from anything that somehow manages to get me down for a moment. Despite all of this, it does not mean I am stress-proof.

I do get stressed, but quite often I am not even aware that it is happening. My apathetic "hey, things could be worse" attitude is real, but that doesn't mean none of the crap happening in my life doesn't rattle around in my head sometimes. Stuff does get caught in there occasionally because, if I'm being honest with myself, there are some things that do require a little more thought than a simple shoulder shrug and cute smirk. Although, I've been told I have an adorable smirk.

Because the concept of stress is so foreign to me (this is not a joke - it's just not how my brain works), I don't always recognize the signs that I may actually be stressed. Whatever situation comes along, I just keep plugging along and do what I do. It is often later when I am exhausted or experiencing muscle tension that the events of the day occur to me.

Wow! That was really messed up! I hope tomorrow is easier.

Another way for me to discover that I was stressed is for something to happen to suddenly remove the stress. It's like when you are doing something outside in the winter and don't realize how cold you are until you step into the warmth of the house. At that point you feel your toes beginning to thaw and the color coming back into your face. Stress works the same way sometimes and I discovered that this happens to me here when I sit down at McDonald's. It just leaves because it is so familiar.

Fruit doesn't even look right.
What is this thing?
Since moving to China, there has been plenty to stress about. I can't read the signs. I don't recognize any of the food. I can't talk to anyone to even ask for directions. I don't know how to pay my bills. Nothing happens the way I expect it to. All the rules are different and I don't have a rule book. Plus, moving is generally considered to be pretty stressful anyway. My wife and I just added the culture and language barrier to the process.

This is why the McDonald's here is so great. It's familiar.

I'm lovin' it

Yeah, I do have to order off the picture menu because I'm basically illiterate. I can't order anything custom like extra pickles or no ketchup because…well, the language again. And they don't have everything on their menu that we have in the States (although they do have a lot of extra weird stuff), but the few items they have that coincide with the U.S. menu are identical in not only appearance but taste.

Now, please understand that I am not someone who always gravitates to the familiar. I love the food here. I've had my share of sheep intestine soup, millet pie, ji'angbing, and more rice than you could imagine. I visit the back-alley street vendors every day to eat some fantastic exotic foods, but every now and then, I need to step away from all the different and come back to the familiar just to refocus by brain. McDonald's provides that for me. It has become my once a week treat. Every Sunday morning, on my way to work, I stop in for a Sausage Egg McMuffin and a hash brown. It helps me reset myself for the coming week and gives me a break from tackling this new culture for a few minutes. For half an hour, I'm not in the new world of China. I'm just at McDonald's reading about the anti-Trump riots on my phone.

In a few months, this place can be my normal.


  1. I haven't eaten at McD's in an age but I imagine if I was in your shoes a Big Mac with fries would look pretty good to me!

    1. McDonald's is fine, but I wasn't really a big fan before I left. Now, it's just that little boost that I sometimes need.

  2. Replies
    1. I haven't tried them yet, so I have no opinion.

  3. Sheep intestine soup, you say.
    Living la vida loca, I see.

    1. It's actually not too bad. Not something I choose when I see it, but I can eat it if it's put in front of me.


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