The end is nigh! The miniseries is nearly finished, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t cover some food along the way. On past trips we stuck to smaller meal budgets and didn’t bother to record most of our meals, in this bygone era before the Instagram foodie-photo fad. Every so often, though, a restaurant here and there would stand out to us — sometimes for the food, sometimes for other reasons.
I worked for McDonald’s for twelve years and wouldn’t be who or what I am today without the experience, but the place keeps getting funnier every time I see them try something different.
In the past week the venerable fast food behemoth had announced plans to ditch several superfluous menu items, add a few new superfluous items, test a McDonald’s delivery service, and consider raising its workers’ wages across the board so they’ll have an excuse to double their prices. Today the veil of secrecy was lifted on an upcoming TV project in which the company has paid an ad agency to reboot the Hamburglar for a 21st-century audience, maybe because his copyright was about to expire and Arby’s was ready to make a play for him.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
For the last few years, my wife and I have spent our respective birthdays together finding some new place or attraction to visit as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on this most frabjous day, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. My 2014 birthday destination of choice: the town of Muncie, some 75 miles northeast of here.
Sure, many people celebrate their birthday on or near the original date. Some might take photos. Some might share them in a timely manner. We keep our own schedule. And by “we” I mean “I” because my wife isn’t as prone to distractions, digressions, or long, awkward pauses between chapters in her online projects. But I couldn’t very well leave this four-part MCC miniseries incomplete. I never explicitly promised anyone four parts, but that final “To Be Continued” at the end of Part Three cried out to me for closure. Also, I could use a short break from headline news and general relevance.
Part four, then: other things we saw besides nifty stores, official works of art, or Garfield statues. The most bewildering sight of all would be the “nature area” that contained a relaxing walking path, gentle plains, breezy forest, and a sacrificial altar.
At age 16 the thought of a part-time after-school job never occurred to me until I received a letter one day from a man named David Sleppy, owner/operator of the McDonald’s down the street from my high school. His store had launched a new recruitment program that offered a higher starting wage to applicants who were on the school’s honor roll — $3.85/hour at a time when minimum wage was $3.35/hour. As an introverted, insular kid with no self-awareness and minimal exposure to social worlds beyond my own limited boundaries, it wasn’t tempting until I did the math and realized that $3.85/hour was greater than my $5/week allowance. I figured why not. And hey, the letter guaranteed the job. Back in those days, silver platters were my favorite way of receiving things.
Mom drove me down there the next day and I filled out an application, but left most of the blanks empty because I had no experience and no idea how to sell myself on qualities alone. I saw no blank that allowed me to describe myself as “smart” and “nice”. But it didn’t matter to me anyway. I had the letter.
When I handed it to the manager on duty, he said they’d keep it on file. He brusquely sent me on my way, despite the letter. I was crestfallen.
Later that same day, David called me personally and told me I was hired.
For me, that’s when life began.
Full disclosure: my first job was a twelve-year stint at McDonald’s, ten of those in management. My wife likewise did time there until she found the gumption to exit long before I did. We bear the company no ill will and we still eat there more frequently than the average ex-employee. That being said: large portions of our respective tenures were spent watching new products die.