On Thursday evening I was doing what I normally do - checking to see if anyone's posted to my forum, surf the internet at random, checking my forum, playing a little Sims 3 or Spore, and checking my forum. And then I noticed that it was getting later in the day and I was hungry. But I also realized that I really, really didn't feel like cooking anything. So I went to Subway instead and got a sandwich. It was delicious! Then I hurried back home so that I could check my forum.
...Wait a minute? Why don't I hear cheers ringing across the internet? Ah, is it because all of that (aside from my excessive forum checks, depending on how internet addicted you are) sounds totally normal, right? Well, perhaps I ought to explain the significance of that story so that all of you will understand just how big of a deal that was:
- The first thing that you need to know is that I can't drive. Instead I get rides, ride the bus, ride my bike, or walk if I need to get somewhere. Subway is just far enough away to make walking a hassle, so I rode my bike. The problem with a bike is that many businesses don't have a bike rack or other convenient place to lock up a bike, and Subway was one of them. Figuring out where to lock up my bike when there isn't an obvious place is pretty stressful for me, but I found a post behind the business next door to them and used that.
- The second thing you need to know is that I'm not used to getting out much. It's not so much that I'm afraid of going out, but it just doesn't happen as often as it probably should so it's just more comfortable being at home. After all, at home I'm much less likely to run into any 'new' things.
- The third thing you need to know is that I'm even less used to buying anything for myself. That really hasn't happened much - in fact I didn't even own a checkbook until a few years ago because I just didn't need one. Buying anything from anywhere by myself is still a 'new' thing. If you read my last post, perhaps you can understand why new things are stressful - I don't have a solid set of rules for new things, so instead of using a tried and true method I know will work I feel like I'm making it up as I go along and I can't be sure that I'm doing it right or that I'll get the result that I want, even when I know logically that only so much can go wrong while ordering a sandwich.
- The fourth thing you need to know is that, on top of the simple fact of buying anything, it causes me a lot of stress when I have to interact with someone in order to pay. I'm a huge fan of self-checkout things as a result. It's probably because I'm already dealing with the 'not used to buying things' stress, and then on top of it I need to complete a series of interactions with another person before I can finish. People are complex, unpredictable things, and people who work registers are especially fond of asking me questions I don't know the answer to, like whether or not I want a Subway card.
One thing that wasn't that stressful to me was the ordering process, because it in that aspect at least I do have a set of rules. I credit that to the fact that I have a large family so the moment we were all old enough my mom's method for getting us fast food was to just let each of us tell them what we wanted ourselves instead of trying to write up a list or something. I've also been to Subway enough times that I know exactly what kind of sandwich to order when I'm not feeling adventurous at all and just want something I know will be delicious. For similar reason, I'm much more comfortable going to Wendy's than I am going to Arby's - my family still goes to the former quite often, while it's been years since I was last at an Arby's so I don't know their menu.
Of course, I'm always trying to improve. One thing that I've made a private goal is to deviate from my old ordering habits when I'm eating out at unfamiliar places. It's been my 'rule' for a very long time to pick the safest thing on the menu when that happens - usually something involving pasta, chicken, and/or cheese. I've been trying to change it to ordering the most daring thing that I'm still pretty sure that I'll like. I've done this perhaps five times recently with all positive results! I've also been working on eating all the foods that I've been avoiding my entire life even though I know that I can tolerate them - peppers, for example - so that it's not such a big deal if something I want has just one ingredient in it that I don't care as much for. It just makes eating easier.
And this upcoming week should be interesting - for the past several weeks I've been trying to convince myself that going to the grocery store is not too big for me to handle, and I'm running out of some of the basic staples of my normal dinner menus (at the moment, I'm most proficient at soup, pasta-roni, rice-a-roni, and frozen microwave meals). My parents have been buying it for me, but this time I'm thinking that I probably should go get it myself. I have enough for this week, but we're getting down to the back of the cupboard... Grocery shopping is so scary because whereas ordering a custom-made sandwich involves perhaps 10 choices, the number of choices in a grocery store is... I don't want to think about it! I'll probably narrow it down by making a list and promising myself that I don't need to buy anything not on it. But that may happen this week. Or... next week? Can it be next week? No, wait, that's just procrastinating for no good reason... But I don't need to do it this week... Well, we'll see if it happens!