The other day I went through the McDonald’s drive through because I hate myself and love death, and I had my earbuds in, so the cashier asked me what I was listening to, and I said “Andy Shauf.” And he goes, “Cool, Andy Shaw. What kind of music does he do?”
When I’m on the spot in this way in a social situation—and it should be telling that I consider going through the McDonald’s drive-through to be a social situation—I’m trying to do a lot of things at the same time, and my brain doesn’t handle it well. I know that the answer I’m about to give is ridiculous, but I’m doing the math, trying to find another possible answer, and I can’t do it in the short time allotted, so a sheepish grin grows on my face and I say, “Baroque pop.”
“Baroque pop” is a very accurate answer. Andy Shauf’s music contains complex arrangements, and a healthy smattering of strings and wind instruments. That said, no one wants to talk to the human incarnation of Pitchfork.
But the cashier is an exceptional human being, and he doesn’t stare dumbly at me. He also doesn’t give me a look of searing scorn. He further, and this is what I appreciate the most, doesn’t act like it’s normal for someone in a conversation with a stranger to describe something as “baroque pop”. He gives me an amused chuckle, and says, “All right. Baroque pop. I’ll check it out. Andy Shaw.”
I want to correct him. He won’t check it out. There’s no Andy Shaw. It’s Andy Shauf. But there’s no way that I can make the conversation weirder by being the sort of person who is not only exacting about classifying a musician as “baroque pop” but must also must spell the name of the artist to a complete stranger, in a drive-through.
And I pass on to the next window. The interaction with the girl at the next window is a complete success. She hands me a bag of food I shouldn’t eat and I say—in recompense for all of my sins at the previous window, with much feeling—”Thank you very much. Have a great day.” I was so grateful for my sausage McMuffin, maybe alarmingly grateful. But the girl smiled and told me that I was welcome. I was glad to be welcome. I am glad there’s a place for me in this world. And that place is McDonald’s.