2.14.2008

What's French for "I'm lovin' it"?

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of McDonald’s in the Chicagoland area. So what could possibly make me drive for nearly six hours one way and into another country to visit one when I eat there maybe once a year.

The picture above should offer a clue.

If you looked at the commercial from my “Sensacionelle!” post earlier this month, McDonald’s restaurants across Canada are selling limited edition miniature goaltender sticks. Co-worker and noted hockey fan Jon Palmieri brought some of these back from a recent trip to Ottawa.

But the two players I really wanted – Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks and Ray Emery of the Ottawa Senators – were not available until this past Monday.

You guessed it.

I drove 650 miles round-trip. Through lake-effect snows and on black ice across western Michigan that caused numerous spinouts and several accidents.

For toys.

I left right after work Wednesday morning and started the trek east. Getting out of Illinois was no problem, but once in northwest Indiana and crossing the border to Michigan, the snow off the lake was coming down hard as temperatures hung in the single digits.

I noticed through the early morning hours that several vehicles slid off the highway into ditches and medians. As it got lighter, the black ice made it tough. I fishtailed once, but quickly got under control, and just west of Detroit, I looked in my rear-view in time to see a car skid across three lanes of traffic, taking out two vehicles.

Finally, the Ambassador Bridge to Canada – a country I love, but haven’t been to since 2000. Pulling up to the border patrol in Windsor, Ontario, with my driver’s license and birth certificate since I haven’t yet gotten a passport, I was greeted by a young, hard-faced woman asking the typical questions.

“The purpose of your trip?” she finally inquired.

“To go to McDonald’s,”I replied.

It was then that I got what I like to call “the look.” It’s the unspoken response someone gives when they have absolutely no answer. I quickly explained about the commercials I’d seen on Hockey Night in Canada while at work advertising these toys.

“So, you drove all the way from Chicago to …” she started

“Buy hockey sticks,” I finished, handing her a business card.

She told me that about 100 meters past the Welcome to Canada sign was a McDonald’s. I asked the young man behind the counter if there were a limit on what I could buy, and he said no provided I also bought one food item.

I walked out with five each of Luongo, Emery, Cristobal Huet of the Montreal Canadiens and Vesa Toskala of the Toronto Maple Leafs and two awful breakfast burritos, one of which is in a landfill now.

A quick stop for some duty-free chocolate, and then back over the border. As I discovered, getting back into the United States under Bush the Younger is not easy.

Showing my papers to a young black man, he asked the purpose of my trip.

“I was here for about a half-hour,” I explained. “To go to McDonald’s.”

Clearly, to him, that was code for “to blow up U.S. landmarks.”

I explained what I’d done, but he wasn’t quite ready to let me go.

“How did you come across this information?” he asked, as I showed him two plastic bags full of round, sealed cases with the sticks inside and explained that I am a writer.

After telling him that I’d seen commercials on HNIC while at work, he wanted to know I couldn’t just buy them in Chicago. I told him they weren’t available.

“Uh huh,” he said, not sure what to think. “Can you pop the trunk, please, sir?”

I chuckled to myself. All that was back there was four boxes with papers, books, a couple of boxes of fudge truffle mix and a sweater that I need to wash.

He told me that he was going to have me pull over, presumably to have my car checked from stem to stern, saying I would have something to write about. Whatever. I have enough material.

The drive home was quicker. No black ice. No bad weather. I was home by 2 and asleep by 4.

All for the love of hockey.

UPDATE: I traded a Benny the Bull bobblehead to coworker (and sad Jets fan) Anthony Gironalista for the Martin Brodeur stick. The set is now complete.

3 comments:

The Girl in Black said...

Compliments of Altavista Babel fish: Je suis lovin 'il

Chris said...

Bush the younger... not to be confused with Pliny the elder apparently.

Todd said...

Somehow this story doesn't surprise me one bit.