Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good-Bye to McDonald's

So, today went oddly. Work just sort of blew up, but let's not dwell upon that. But let us agree that at the conclusion of the day's labors, I felt I deserved a break. Today.

Part of my day included the fact that I had not been able to get lunch, and so swung through a McDonald's on I-35 as I departed Waco around 4:00.

I don't get a lot of fast food, but I've had reason to hit Taco Bell of late, and I think I went to McDonald's about a month ago for some reason (I really can't guess why). Anyway, there's this new thing that fast food places are doing, that the voice one hears upon arriving at the drive-thru that welcomes you to the restaurant and offers you their current special (ie: "welcome to McDonald's, would you like to try our McDeathwhich today?"), is NOT the same person who then takes your order. But I strongly, strongly suspect that the day's offering/ promotion is pre-recorded, and there's now an odd layer of "what is happening here?" to the proceedings.

I don't know if there's some team action occuring, if its pre-recorded, if there's someone at McDonald's Central monitoring my order or what... but it's sort of freaky. And I decided today that the McDonald's coffees are sort of a travesty. Just FYI.

But did McDonald's really need to find a way to somehow de-personalize the experience at their restaurants even more? To just jettison the whole illusion of anyone working there giving a damn? That's a bold step, and I almost salute the cold efficiency of the move. Its just one more step before we all bow down before the Robo-Kaiser.

And, in case you were wondering, there is no sight sadder than watching your McLatte being made by a drive-through agent at a McDonald's. You realize how much this task is messing with their day. There's just no real passion in it when they add the three-inch high tower or Redi-Whip you didn't realize was going to adorn your coffee.

Alas, the day wasn't really complete until I was back in town.

As mentioned, I had been on the road, returning from that day-trip to Waco, and just before picking up my Wednesday haul at Ye Olde Comick Shoppe, I stopped at a McDonald's to, ahem, TCB (too much coffee) so as not to be distracted while looking at funny books.

I tell you, Leaguers... I'm a polite guy. When I stop at a gas station or McDonald's to use their facilities, I usually try to buy something so that I'm a paying customer. Even if I just bought a McCafe somewhere up the road. However...

No sooner had I entered the bathroom than I heard someone retching in the stall. For some reason, this McDonald's has a smaller door, so I could see the person standing over the toilet, at which point he hurled. Twice.

I stood there, time slowing to a crawl. I'm not a religious man, but I prayed in that moment:

Dear God, please... he's seen me in here. Please make this guy wash his hands and get cleaned up. I do not want to touch the doorhandle after this fellow.


The gentleman then proceeded to open the stall, walk briskly past me (without washing his hands), and wander out the door into the restaurant without washing hands, face, etc...

He was in his official McDonald's uniform.*

I stood there in slack-jawed shock for the better part of a minute.

Not sure of what else to do, The League completed his business, washed his hands, found a way to open the door with his shoe, jam hands in pockets and speed out of the store without touching anything. That was one Diet Coke not sold today, I guess.

And that, Leaguers, marks my final visit to McDonald's.


Sometimes we have to look at why a particular prayer goes unanswered, and in this case, I do not believe YHWH's actions were exactly mysterious.

Way to go, McDonald's. It wasn't the deadly food, crippling effect on the American Food Industry, plague of Childhood Obesity or seeming utter lack of respect for the item formerly known as the Hamburger that did it. It was being in the wrong place at the wrong time and that one instruction you seemed to leave out of the employee handbook.

"Thou Shalt, Upon Vomiting Before a Customer, Make a Big Show of Cleaning Up, And NOT Returning To The Kitchen."

or something along those lines. At least that's how my employee handbook wold read.

Indeed, McDonald's, you finally broke me. Our love/hate, on-again/ off-again relationship is done. No tears. I'll be strong enough for both of us.

*To be completely truthful, I can neither confirm nor deny that Johnny Yak went back to work. But I strongly suspect he at least had been working.


rhpt said...

I already feel pretty awful that I take Esme to McDonald's. This makes me feel worst 100x more.

In my defense, however, the kid won't eat anything that's not in the form of a McNugget.

mcsteans said...

Wow, you didn't tell me that story. I similarly vowed never to go back to In-N-Out Burger after finding a 2 inch clump of hair in my fries. Even though I'm sure it was an isolated incident at that one restaurant, I will forever associate "greasy black hair in fries" with In-N-Out. Kind of ruins it.

Nathan said...

I have hated McDonald's food for years.

I would have told the manager.

The League said...

It did not occur to me until I was driving away to tell the manager. Also, having been in that McDonald's on and off for 20 years, I was unsure if there actually is a manager on duty. It has always felt a bit more "Lord of the Flies".

J.S. said...

Your body sent me an email asking me to thank you for refusing to ever go back to McDonald's. So thank you.

T.S.T. said...

For all you know, the guy in bathroom stall may well have BEEN THE MANAGER.

Michael Corley said...

Makes me think of "McRib... chomp!"

The League said...

At a reader's suggestion, I have e-mailed the McDonald's corporation. I really didn't get a look at the person's face to see if they had the hard-bitten look of a McDonald's manager. They sort of breezed past me, but it's a possibility, certainly.

Simon MacDonald said...

I can't stand McDonald's. Before we had a child I did not eat anything from them for about 15 years. Now that we have Anna the allure of the Play place is too strong to overcome on days where it's been raining for the better part of a week and Anna's going shack wacky. Damn their oily hides.

You can thank Ray Croc for the dehumanizing work place of McDonald's. Croc was responsible for bringing the assembly line approach to making food. There is a good book on the topic called Fast Food Nation which is recommended reading.

Also, your drive through order may have been taken by a tele-worker in Mubai as McDonald's is outsourcing a lot of their drive through order taking. Crazy eh!

The League said...

I actually read the first 100 pages or so of "Fast Food Nation" and literally quit reading because I was becoming so depressed.

I had heard about the outsourcing thing, but thought it was a sort of urban legend. If it is Mumbai, they are doing a killer impression of a disinterested American McDonald's employee.