I’d like to take a minute to highlight a serious issue that affects millions of people worldwide every day, hanger.
I know we’re all familiar with hanger. Brave advocacy groups like Snickers have done enough to raise awareness in the last few years that it’s no longer a condition shrouded in secrecy and shame. Now, sufferers can take comfort in knowing their loved ones and coworkers will at least understand, if not respect their choice to respond to a question like, “Hey, Claire, how’s it going?” with “It’s 2PM, I haven’t eaten lunch yet, and your face is irritating the shit out of me.”
That said, I think there’s still a lot of work to be done educating the public about the dangers of hangriness and how to care for someone in the throes of a hangry episode. Now is not the time for complacency. Complacency will only lead to rage-filled omissions of inappropriate honesty and subsequently uncomfortable relationships. Who among us hasn’t wanted to tell Fred he needs to stop constantly interrupting your work to make small talk about his weekend Netflix binge-watching? But if Judy does it when she’s nearly blind with rage over her plummeting blood sugar level, she’s also going to mention his BO and that he wasn’t invited to the potluck barbecue at Cindy’s because he always stares at Sasha’s boobs and makes her uncomfortable. And then Fred will make everyone else feel uncomfortable by asking if this is true. No one needs this sort of unbalance in the delicate ecosystem of the workplace, right? We all just want to do our stupid, ultimately meaningless jobs and go home!
My nephew, Colby, was recently involved in an unfortunate incident at his Montessori that could have easily been avoided if only his teacher had been sensitive to the needs of the hangry child and had helped him open that banana. That banana didn’t need to end up trapped, mashed beyond repair. Though she may have deserved it, the teacher could have avoided the name-calling and tears she was subjected to. Education is the key.
This is why now, more than ever, it’s important to share our stories and continue to get the word out about hanger and what we, as a community can do to help.
I, personally, have both seen and felt the ravages of hanger. This is my story.
Yesterday morning an ill-fated sequence of events led me to leave the house at noon after a 2.5 hour hike, without eating anything. I was on my way to a title company in Scottsdale to drop off an earnest money check, and I thought I’d grab something to eat on the way, or after. Unfortunately, even though I’m a 37 year old woman who has been suffering with hanger my entire life, I forgot that sometimes, with the right combination of exercise and attempted rehydration, the hanger will skip the initial symptoms of growling stomach and shaky hands, and go straight for the brain.
I pulled away from the house in a fog, and tried to formulate a plan of action. The title company was 25 minutes north and west of my house. There were lots of restaurants between here and there… where should I stop? My brain hazily struggled to come up with some possible options. A BLT sounds good. Lot’s of places have BLTs… bacon is pretty. And chips. Chips are happy things. Maybe if I just pull off at the next exit and knock on someone’s door they’ll make me a BLT? This was when my gas light went on, snapping me back to reality and inserting a further sense of urgency into the situation.
I know, I thought, finally coming up with a solution, I’ll call Jason and ask him where I should eat. He always knows stuff like this.
Me (slurring): Hey.
Jason: Hey, what’s up? I’m just getting back to work from lunch.
Me: Oh. Ok. Um… oh right. I need help.
Me (taking a deep breath and trying to keep it together): I… am driving to Scottsdale, and I almost died with the 10 mile walk and no water and now I need to find food. I don’t feel super hungry, but I think I need to eat. I want a BLT and I don’t know where to go. So… can you tell me where to go?
Jason: Um… well, there’s this place Mandy said she was just at the other day in Tempe, it’s called Nocawich. It has lots of sandwiches and it’s supposed to be good.
Me: Yes. Sure. Where?
He texted me the address and I reset my GPS, feeling more secure about a plan in place to secure nourishment.
My relief, however, was short-lived. As I drew closer to the restaurant, I realized, with growing horror, that it was located directly on ASU’s campus. I turned down College Ave and was suddenly surrounded by meandering 20-somethings in crop-tops and on long boards. There were buses vying for a spot in my lane. Cars honked behind me. Nocawich was a storefront with no visible parking and a line out the door. This was not a situation I could possibly navigate in my current condition. My overworked, starving brain began to melt down. I forgot how to drive. I considered putting the car in park right there, turning on my hazards, and laying down to die in the front seat.
Gradually my misery shifted and I began to see red. THIS WAS JASON’S FAULT. I took a deep breath and made a U-turn in front of a service vehicle and narrowly missed flattening three jaywalking coeds. He had obviously sent me here ON PURPOSE, knowing it would be hell-on-earth, just to torture me! That bastard!!
As I sat through three cycles of a green arrow, trying to extricate myself from the congestion of the campus, still food-free and running even more low on literal gas, I let fly with a series of furious voice-text messages to my husband, beginning with, “This was a terrible fucking idea” and finishing off with the dramatic, “I really really hate my life right now”.
Jason, being well-versed in the signs of hanger, knew he could do nothing from his vantage point, and minimized provocation by only responding in sad faced emojis.
At that point, I decided just to continue on to the title company. I would stop somewhere in Scottsdale that looked empty with parking close by. And somewhere with wine.
Getting off the freeway, I remembered that Scottsdale is a landscape barren of gas stations, and if I didn’t want to run out and be forced to hitchhike to the nearest Taco Bell, I needed to stop at the first one I could find.
The Shell station on Indian Bend and Hayden was where I exited my car for the first time since the morning’s walk from hell. It was also where I discovered my leg muscles were revolting from over-use and in utter misery. I limped to and from the gas pump and cursed my life even further.
Finally, at 1:15pm I pulled up to the title company building. Of course it wasn’t in a strip mall where I could park right in front, walk 10 steps in and hand the check to the receptionist. It was in an enormous, three story office building with 8 separate entrances and no indication whatsoever which was closest to the title company I was looking for. I circled the parking lot once and wept furious tears before sucking up every ounce of will I still had to offer, and limped, miserably, toward the building.
Once I entered the door of roulette I’d chosen, it was clear I was in some 7th circle of real estate hell. The downstairs housed at least three different real estate sales companies, and I could see three title agencies upstairs. My poor, feeble brain could not compute. I looked down at the check in my hand to remember where I was trying to get, and hobbled over to a touchscreen directory.
Eventually it became clear I’d need to climb a set of winding stairs to get to the title company. Of course. I cursed every stupid, fucking step as I slowly, deliberately climbed it. I’m sure the other people in the building thought I was disabled or was autistic. The steps infuriated me. The receptionist was a raging twit who deserved capital punishment for her laugh. That lady who passed me on the stairs on the way down and gave me a sideways look had no idea how lucky she was she was to be just out of tripping range at that moment.
When I got back to my car, after laying my head on my steering wheel for a minute, I resolved to stop at a “pizza and wine” sign I’d seen a mile or so back toward the freeway.
The restaurant was almost empty at 1:45pm when I entered, but at that point I gave zero fucks as to whether this was an indication of the quality of food. I sat down at the bar and ordered a glass of wine, a salad and an individual pizza. I still wasn’t shaky or even traditionally starving, just sore, exhausted, and furious with all people and inanimate objects within a 2 mile radius (and my husband, of course).
Four bites into my arugula and white bean mediterranean salad my vision started to clear around the edges. Breathing became easier. I realized my husband probably wasn’t a stupid selfish asshole who didn’t care about me or my well-being at all. He was just trying to help. It was good I hadn’t told him all of the stuff I’d been thinking. Things… were going to be ok. By the time I finished the pizza, the world looked like a giant double rainbow had appeared over the horizon, and I was really, really glad I hadn’t committed homicide in the last 2 hours.
You, too, can avoid being the victim or perpetrator of hanger violence by arming yourself against this common, but dangerous condition. Carry snacks. Near mealtimes, speak in soothing tones. Make and always have on hand a list of restaurants you, or your hangry-afflicted loved one has enjoyed in the past, to refer to during cloudy-brain episodes. And always apologize to a hangry person, even if it’s not your fault.
Spread the word!