Almost Average Saturday at McDonald's

Dedicated to Cliff Carpenter


Quarter-pounder and fries, no pickle large Sprite
I never understood why it should take longer to prepare
a burger with less condiments than one with the works
Nothing I can do during the wait except these
Boy Scouts, bouncing from wall to wall
Average saturday at McDonalds


I'm famished, been stuck on my feet all day and my ass
is killing me, stuck in that driver's crouch
in that damn, uncomfortable driver's seat
for nearly an hour, driving home
from work, and all I want at this moment
is .25 pounds of grease-soaked cow meat
and some carbonation to help make me
make it the rest of the way home


The register girl is bored, probably been here
since the breakfast shift, no doubt her feet are screaming
at her for working this minimum-wage job, as she drifts
ghostlike to the grease vats to drop an order of french fries
helping the cooks catch up during the pre-dinner rush
Her exhaustion leaking through the fragile smile
she is required to maintain


The manger, if that's what he is, is sweeping spilled
ketchup from the floors, looking up at the counter every
few seconds, not really caring how the register people
are doing, just wishing that those responsible for the rush
all of these damn Boy Scouts, at least twenty-five of them
would be getting their orders to go instead of eating in
knowing that before they leave, his store is going to be
rushed again by the flood of people like me
who are just getting off work


There are two children, a boy and a girl, who are tugging
on their mother's sleeve, showing her the toonish playground
just beyond the window of the Ronald McDonald corner of the
store, giggling cheerfully as she give them permission
to go outside to that plastic wonderland, and as they fly
out of the door I am blasted by the surge of brisk air that
somehow diffuses across the entire restaurant


A flash of brown and green reminds me again of the twenty-five
or so Boy Scouts, chattering endlessly about trivial things
How the Blue Jays demolished the Phillies this year
Whatever that new video game was, and some actually talk
about the trip they're returning from, some one night
camp and how it's great to be eating real food again


There's a kid who's kind of slow in the head, working the
other register, seemingly oblivious to everything around
him, just doing his best to do his job in the midst of
the rush confusion, and doing remarkably well despite
the wait his customers must endure while the cooks
prepare their orders. He chats happily with them
and somehow his wait is not so long


There's some asshole giving him trouble, a very impatient man
the Scout's troop leader of all people, who can't seem
to understand that the wait is not the fault of this
particular employee, and assaults him verbally hollaring
"Are you retarded or something? Is that what's wrong with you?"
while thumping him on the head repeatedly
The rest of us pretend not to notice, mumbling to
each other how we can't believe something like this is happening


A flurry of movement, and someone grabs the troop leader
and throws him against the wall, his face furiously red
as he someone restrains himself from beating the living shit
out of this man, instead hollaring back to him
And when the troop leader falters and does not respond
he screams his reprimand once more
Until the troop leader finally apologizes


There's a furious man grabbing his takeout order
(not bothering to get his change)
and storming towards the exit
past the frightened children who were too cold to remain outside playing
The manager consoling his distraught register boy
The silent Boy Scouts whispering to each other how
their troop leader almost got his ass kicked
The tired register girl thinking that something exciting happened at work today
The troop leader with the racing heart wondering what he did to deserve that
and the rest of us
(who are still wondering how something like this could have happened)
hoping he heard our applause as he steps out of
McDonald's that Saturday

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