Making McDonald's Hurt

posted October 7, 2004 by Jer


I never eat at McDonalds.

Unfortunately, that's a lie. I have eaten at McDonalds precisely seven times since 1998. The first six were all at conventions where Studio Splurd had a table. Some kind person would always be going to get food for us starving artists, and six times the only place they were willing to go was McDonalds. All six times, I got a chicken salad and a soda. The seventh was today.

I stopped eating at McDonalds while at VCU for two reasons. One was the fact that one day I realized everything they sell tastes like wax. That fact only minimized my McDonaldistic eatage. The fact remained that - as often happens in college - I became hungry and McDonalds was always convenient.

One day, I had precisely enough money for two cheeseburgers. I also, being a skinny person, know exactly how much vile fried beef product my fragile stomach can endure, and that - at the time - was precisely two McDonalds cheeseburgers. So I go to Mcdonalds and ask for precisely two cheeseburgers. I am charged for three. This was clearly a mistake, so I politely informed the cashier that I only wanted two.

I was polite. I'm always polite to cashiers. The Crew and I, despite our many disagreements, agree that every human in America must once in their life times work either retail, food service or customer service. If you do not know the hell of working for minimum wage by dealing with humans who wish to spend their money on preprocessed corporate consumer goods all while living their lives with the persistent angst that surviving off of preprocessed corporate consumer goods so delightfully burdens them with, then you don't deserve to be an adult in american culture. I have worked as a cashier, and thus I know true pain. I never have a desire to inflict cruelty on those who are currently enduring this mandatory test of ones character.

The cashier informed me that it was I who was mistaken, and began to attempt to convince me that I wanted to pay for and subsequently eat three cheeseburgers. This lead to a subtle misunderstanding, and it was well after I stopped being polite that I walked off, sans the exchange of money for food. Twenty minutes later, hunger took me. I returned to the McDonalds to find a cashier who had obviously been verbally assaulted by her manager over the mathematical error, and was ecstatic to see I had returned to have the situation rectified. I was charged for two cheeseburger. I was given a bag. I walked back towards my dorm.

Inside the bag I found three cheeseburgers.

Bonus you may say, especially if you love preprocessed beef byproduct and are not, in fact, a skinny person with a stomach built for digesting whole grains. Yet, even my health-food upbringing could not withstand the great American call of free food, and I consumed all three. I later became sick.

Since that episode, I have eaten at McDonalds seven times.

Today, I was waiting for a friend to show up at the Vienna metro station. I was up the street, geeking out over computer stuff at Micro Center. I was not hungry, but I could stand to make use of the plumbing facilities of whatever nearby franchise would let me. The only such establishment in site was the McDonalds. I entered, took care of the business at hand, and was about to leave when the pangs of guilt struck me, and I felt compelled to actually purchase something.

I eyed the dollar menu.

I remembered a lesson in economics.

You see, McDonalds actually loses money on the dollar menu stuff. Their hope is that if you get lured in by the dollar menu, you'll buy a soda or some fries with it. The goal of all fast food places is to get each person who walks through the door to spend at least $5. The actual food doesn't cost them anything, it's the marketing and the employee costs and all those big corporate pay checks that most of your $5 go towards. If you only spend $1, you're not meeting the vast expectations of the board of directors.

So spending $1 at McDonalds is worse on them then not eating there.

Not that I'm going to start eating there regularly. The shit still tastes like wax, and will likely kill you. (Mookie, don't lecture me I ALREADY KNOW!)

Maybe I'm just a vile, vindictive bastard.

This is a damn good soda.