Dill pickles, pizza, & other life issues over which we have no control

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I don’t like dill pickles. Never have, never will. Once I tried a dill pickle and soda cracker diet (of my own invention). Didn’t work, of course. I think I figured if I ate something so sour it would spoil my appetite for anything else. That was an incorrect assumption. I don’t like fried pickles either.

I have a favorite semi-fast food place I like to frequent. The meals are all very good and made with good ingredients. The problem I have is that they place a slice of dill pickle on the top of every sandwich. It doesn’t matter if it’s a burger or chicken or tenderloin or even tuna, there will be a dill pickle slice on top of whatever you order.

Now, it’s clear that the simple answer to all of this is to just remove the pickle when it is delivered to the table. But that won’t do for me. I can still taste the lingering juice of said pickles even after I have handed them off to my dining partner.

Last week, I dined at this chain twice and in two different locations. Having learned what happens with pickles in this company, I was specific with both of my orders: “No pickles. I don’t want pickles inside or outside the sandwich. I don’t want a pickle within breathing room of my sandwich.” And in both cases, the order takers were deliberate about listening to me. On the receipts I was given (the originals went to the kitchen), both of them stated in capital letters NO PICKLE.

On that first day, when the sandwich was delivered to my table and I was alone, the waiter simply ditched the order and moved on. I looked down and, you guessed it, there was a pickle smack dab in the middle of the top of my bun.

Now, I was having a bad day. A bad week. My fuse was short. There was no wait staff around to summon. It was early afternoon and the place was near empty. So I picked up that pickle and flung it across the room.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. If you could see me throw anything, you know that my trajectory and distance amounted to nothing. I then got up, walked over, picked up the stupid pickle and put it on my tray before I even began to eat.

In the second instance, the unsuspecting server hadn’t even gotten the sandwich on to my table and I saw it: the pickle in the middle of the top of the bun. I’m told by my dining companion that I clenched my fists, hit the table and pronounced, “I said NO PICKLE!” He said she looked scared. She quickly returned to the kitchen and brought out a sandwich with no pickle and, she said, the bun was a new one. No juice remains could be detected.

Similarly, we order home delivery for pizza and usually from the same pizza place. There is pizza that is much better, but living where we do, not everyone delivers out here. The ones that do are awfully expensive. So we have settled on one pizza company. We always designate that we want our pizza cut into squares. We just find it easier to eat that way. The restaurant tells us that getting it cut into squares is not a problem.

Round pizza cut into squares. Just the way we like it. [Internet image]

But the same week as my last two dill pickle experiences, we ordered pizza to be cut in squares. The delivery guy was nice and friendly. He was paid and tipped. When we got the box inside the house and he was long gone, we opened it to discover that the pizza had been cut into slices. No problem. We could eat it that way. But whoever was wielding the pizza cutter wheel discovered his mistake and rather than leaving the pizza in wedges, he proceeded to also cut it into squares. Well, you can imagine the array of shapes and sizes of pizza that we beheld. And nobody said anything about it. The delivery guy may not have known about the mistake, but he dumped it and left. I filed an on-line complaint with the company and no one bothered to call and even apologize.

It was a frustrating week meal-wise for me. And those were the small frustrations on top of larger ones.

It has reminded me how little control we have over things we believe we should control. Pickles or no pickles. Wedges or squares. Life or death. One presidential candidate over another. Job or no job. Friendly and kind neighbors vs. jerks. Medical diagnoses and the desire to have no medical issues at all. Friends or few friends. Snowstorms or warm weather. Childcare or childcare unexpectedly canceled. A smooth-running vehicle vs. one disjointed by another sloppy driver. Social media rants vs. social media rational conversations.

We think we can and should be able to control everything in our lives, our homes, our places of business, our churches. But we can’t. As smart and reasoned as our decisions may be, as correct as those choices may be, we often don’t get the results we were seeking. People we love suffer. Life-long dreams are quashed. Carefully plotted plans are never realized.

And yet, there’s a lot that is right about the world.

I took out my anger about pickles on an unsuspecting young waitress, and, in the scheme of things, a lousy pickle shouldn’t have blown up anyone’s day. I let it because my fuse was so short by that time. I was feeling so out of control of my life. I just blew.

My husband has what he calls his 24-hour rule. Just let the frustration simmer for 24 hours and think through what if any response is required.

It’s a good rule. But on issues of life and death, we more often than not have to put it all in God’s hands. God has done a pretty good job of taking care of us up till now.

I just wish I didn’t have to deal with dill pickles.

 

 

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
4              “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5              Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6              On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone
7              when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? – Job 38:1,4-7

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5 comments for “Dill pickles, pizza, & other life issues over which we have no control

  1. Mick
    January 25, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Seems like you were in quite a pickle

  2. Susan
    January 25, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    What a good reminder of the Serenity Prayer! God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. (Reinhold Niebuhr) I’m so sorry your week stunk, food-wise.

  3. Susie Thornton
    January 25, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Love. This! I could imagine your pickle tantrum and also your faces when you saw your mutilated pizza. After experiencing a couple of weeks of feeling things might be out of control, I can see how these would be the pickles that broke the camel’s back. Lol

  4. Patti D
    January 26, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Well said Gretchen.

    If my dear mother(former religious education teacher at Mark Twain school)were here and that happened to her she would say – “God must have wanted me to have that pickle” and then gone on about her day.

    I have this entire poem hanging in my office.

    “We cannot change the inevitable.

    The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…
    I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
    And so it is with you…
    we are in charge of our attitudes.”

  5. Mrg Simon
    January 30, 2017 at 6:13 am

    Oh how I enjoy a little candid self-examination! Your own example of self-examination is so concise and revealing. It brings to mind a number of Maya Angelou quotes that are full of truth and insight. Your distinctive voice is a welcome addition to American wisdom – a breath of fresh air!

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