It’s 10:30 at night. I’m in a McDonald’s in the middle of nowhere while I eat a cheeseburger and type this. The cheeseburger isn’t even hot. The pickles are practically frozen.  The cheese is just this cold and floppy slice of disappointment sitting atop a burger of shame. It’s awful and I want to go home, but I can’t right now.

But let me back up.

Eight hours ago I started the last leg of a road trip that has yet to be finished. All I had to do was get from Point A to Point B and I could call my weekend a success. Of course, no good story ends with “everything went as expected.”

Less than an hour into my trip I hit the worst traffic I’ve ever encountered. Traffic was dead. For hours. Luckily I happened to run into it right as a rest stop appeared, giving me a place to sit back and just wait out whatever the hold up was.

After the accident was cleared up I set back on the road, ready to finish my last three hours of driving. An hour came and went without incident when I stopped at another rest stop to relieve myself of the multiple gallons of coffee I ingested at my last stop. While there a trucker trapped me into a conversation where he proceeded to reveal his life story about how things went downhill after he left the military, and the only job he could find after six years of service was driving trucks for hours on end across the country. I tactfully found a chance to escape between the long string of depressing stories I was being fed.

With only two more hours to go, I started the car and took off down the road again. The suspicious knocking sound from my engine troubled me, but there was nothing I could do about it until I got back home. Except, that didn’t happen. The engine died on me while I was still on the interstate. My situation went from bad to worse very quickly.

Car is dead. I’ll call someone.
Phone is dead. I’ll plug in the charger.
Charger is missing. I’ll flag someone down.
No one is stopping. I’ll walk ten miles to the nearest gas station.
Gas station has no phone I can use. I’ll buy a charger.
Gas station has no outlets I can use. I’ll walk across the street to McDonald’s.
Turns out I bought the wrong charger. I’ll use my laptop to get online and make a call.
McDonald’s doesn’t want me there unless I’m a customer. I”ll buy a cheeseburger and coke.
The cheeseburger is cold. Wait a second…this whole trip became a nightmare and I’m complaining about a CHEESEBURGER.

My car is broken down while I have student loans to pay off starting next month, and I’m worried about a CHEESEBURGER. Recognizing the pettiness of my cheeseburger troubles led me to also realize how silly it was to be cursing the world for my tumultuous and woe-inspiring life situation at the moment.

While I was running around complaining about each and every unfortunate event that transpired, I didn’t stop to think about how fortunate I was to even be able to undertake those problems.

Dead phone? At least I had a phone to begin with. Can’t find my charger? How cool is it that we have ways to charge our phones in our cars anyway? When my car broke down and I had to walk to the gas station, it didn’t occur to me that there are people all over the world who walk much more than this every day — out of necessity. Worse yet, there are those who don’t have the opportunity to walk at all. And here I am whining about getting to take a walk in the cool night air.

My twenty-three years of infinite wisdom have taught me that things won’t always go according to plan, and that’s okay. Down the road we’ll look back and realize that no matter how terrible we felt like the situation was, we’re still alive and moving; that’s something to be thankful for. Sometimes we have to acknowledge that our problems, especially our first world problems, aren’t the end of the world, they’re just another step in this adventure we all get to have.

Next time I find myself wishing my dollar-burger were a little warmer, I’ll be sure to remember how lucky I am to have that cold sad burger in my hands in the first place.

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