3/23/2007

A Day at McDonald's

Note to the reader: I apologize for my absence and my infrequency of posts. That damn SOCOM 3 has me addicted. I'm weaning myself off the PS2 and should be fit and primed shortly.


Today I ate lunch at McDonald's. Usually when I dine out (yes, to me fast food can be "dining") I bring something to read. As I eat and then for some time afterward, I read my book or the paper or some lunatic's manifesto. It's blissful. I'm not sure why reading while eating out is more fulfilling than reading at home. When I read at home, I feel like I'm wasting the day. Shouldn't I be doing something more productive, like watching television? But when I'm in a restaurant, reading is the perfect complement to the meal. Pure leisure.

Today I opted for McDonald's. It sounded appetizing. McDonald's food has a peculiar quality: it always disappoints you, but given enough time, you'll crave it again. Then you indulge that craving and rediscover how awful the food is. You swear never to return. Then your cravings get the better of you. You go to McDonald's again, gag, and so on. I think that's what McDonald's means when they print those "recycle" emblems on the packaging.

I secured a tray of chicken nuggets, fries and apple pies and reconnoitered the restaurant for a cozy booth in the sun. Despite the lunch crowd and the ocean of seniors nursing cups of coffee, I manged to find 4 sun-kissed booths in a row. Each was perfect for an afternoon of reading. That is, each of them would have been perfect, except for the obnoxious blue circle I finally noticed on the edge of each table with the handicapped emblem. Evidently, squadrons of handicapped people converge on the McDonald's and establish a beachhead on the south border of the restaurant. Four booths? Four entire booths? How many handicap people could possibly arrive at McDonald's at the same time? After all, they're handicapped. One would think they'd opt for the drive-through. Furthermore, their bodies are obviously ailing. Perhaps burgers, fries and processed fried chicken aren't the wisest dietary choices. I won't pass judgment. But I will suggest that as McDonald's is hardly an essential service, you gimpy bastards can take your chances with the seating like the rest of us.

This is the kind of shit that puts me at odds with the universe. From 0500 until midnight, thousands of people go without the finest seating in the restaurant on the slim chance that at some point in the day, 23 handicapped people will arrive at a McDonald's at the same time and demand handicapped seating. This is ri-God-damned-diculous. And I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. In fact, I'll bet most people do. Making provisions for handicapped patrons is admirable. But the degree to which we go to make a largely symbolic gesture (wouldn't a single table do, or a single handicapped parking space?) infuriates me.

The question is, why? Why do McDonald's and a thousand other companies go beyond the practical, the sensible, and into La-La Land? Who's to blame? The usual suspects: vegetarians, environmentalists and "fairness" crusaders.

Follow me on this: McDonald's sells hamburgers. Successfully. They've sold billions of burgers. That means a lot of dead cows and a lot of litter. It also means a lot of money to target with legal action. Add the slaughter of animals, consumption of natural resources and economic prosperity, mix it all together in a milkshake machine, deep-fry it in vegetable oil, and you've got yourself one greedy, evil, supersized devil-incarnate. Just the word "McDonald's" is an epithet for the evil corporate empire that is American capitalism. The only word that motivates the aforementioned busybodies faster is "Wal-Mart."

McDonald's has a lot of (unearned) guilt to assuage. They have a lot of attacks to deflect and a lot hatred to endure. What to do? They can't stop butchering cows. They can't stop wrapping burgers in aluminum foil or popping them into paper sacks. They can't tell their shareholders, "Sorry, we're not into the whole money thing anymore." What they can do is overindulge a group of busybody activists with sympathies for demographics of victims and give them - the activists busybodies - a sense of importance and the false satisfaction of "making a difference." Stroke some egos. Make it appear to the part of the world that holds capitalism in contempt that the company cares about something other than fulfilling an economic need and enriching shareholders. So McDonald's reserves an unreasonable portion of their lobby for handicapped patrons. Then they wildly gesture to its token of compassion each time a busybody starts organizing a boycott or a class-action lawsuit. Meanwhile thousands of patrons' dining experiences are less enjoyable. This is the cost to society for politically correct ambition: Patrons pay more and get less. Today, I was one of those patrons. I had to seek seating elsewhere, which brings me to the second part of my story, which I'll post at the beginning of next week. Tune in next week for Part 2:

Stay-at-Home-Moms and Their Precious Little Booger Eaters at the Playland.

3/14/2007

Bull-etins

  • If you looked up "musical genius" in the encyclopedia, you'd find a picture of Prince. Hopefully it's not one of him wearing those assless pants he wore at the Grammy's.


  • I'm working on a scientific theory. I don't have all the math worked out yet, but the gist of it is this: If you burp, sneeze and break wind simultaneously, your torso will collapse from negative internal pressure. Here's something else regarding the above phenomenon. Should it happen in the vicinity of onlookers, they'll have to "God-bless" you and ask you to excuse yourself, creating a time-etiquette paradox.
  • I just bought the book, “Freakonomics.” I thought it was an expose on what unscrupulous women and weirdos will do for money. But I found out it's a statistics book with a bunch of science and sociology junk. Let the buyer beware.
  • I don't have many friends. It's a good thing I'm already married. If I had to get married today, I'd have to rent friends to pair with the bridesmaids. Yes, I need 6 tuxedos for the evening of the 22nd. Tell me, my good man – do you have any friends that come with those? Money is no object.
  • Awhile ago, a girl told me, “LBB, you're so conceited.” I set her straight. “No, I'm really not. You're just making a generalization because I'm so good-looking and fun to be around.”
  • The greatest thing about being a pessimist is, you're so delighted to learn you're wrong.
  • Satires such as 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World are supposed to be cautionary tales. But so many of our politicians use them instead as instruction manuals!
  • Get this. My employer has compelled me to attend anger management classes. And just because a few passersby overheard me calling my computer a “silicon-based cocksucker.” Lighten up, for God's sake.

3/09/2007

Bullet-ins

  • Many people admire the Native American Indian and suggest we should live more like they did – in harmony with Mother Earth and all. I agree. Our first step should be to equip slaughterhouse workers with bows and arrows.
  • I went to high school with a Mexican guy who spoke Spanish fluently. We took Spanish class together. I got a B. He flunked. How the hell does a Mexican flunk Spanish, for Christ's sake? I might understand if he flunked English. But Spanish? That's like a broad flunking Home Ec. I felt it was my duty as a gringo to ridicule him for flunking Spanish. No se habla Espanol o Ingles, vato. Plus, I was bitter about his lack of aptitude. I figured a Mexcian would be a great guy to sit next to and cheat off of (yes, I know I just ended the last two sentences with 3 prepositions. Save your scorn for the Mexican who flunked Spanish, if you please). After all, when you're in algebra, you sit next to the Chinese kid. You know his test answers are correct.
  • I saw a news hotlink the other day that read, “841-pound woman dies of heart attack.” Shocking, isn't it, that an 841-lb. Person would die of a heart attack? But here's the real shocker: she was 19 miles into a marathon when she collapsed. Until then she was holding a 5-minute mile pace!
  • Conservatives aren't as virtuous as they think. Liberals aren't as smart as they think.
  • You probably know about the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama standoff for the Democratic primary. This political race is a microcosm for future politics: a bunch of nervous white guys watching a white woman duke it out with a minority male, all the while rooting for whoever will seek the least vengeance. Go Obama!
  • We admire selfless people. I'm not so sure. Suicide bombers are selfless.
  • They should wire Amber Alert freeway signs to work with asshole drivers when there's no kids missing. Warning: handicapped cellphone user in Ford Taurus driving 48 mph in far left lane.”
  • I wouldn't wipe my ass with a rice cake, let alone consume it.
  • There's a town in Arizona named “Surprise.” Surprise, AZ. You want to know what the surprise is? Most of the township's elected officials are transvestites. Surprise – there's a beanbag and tube-steak underneath that dress! Also in Arizona, there's a retirement community named Youngtown. I wonder if there's a city in China whose name translates to “Tallville.”
  • I recently saw Jimmy Walker doing a cameo appearance on television. He's gained weight. How much weight? Well, it looks like he finally grew into those lips.
  • You can't go wrong being humble. When you miss the mark, nobody expected much anyway. And on those occasions you exceed your humble reputation, it makes the achievement that much more spectacular. A humble attitude is the ultimate expression of the adage, under-promise and over-deliver.
  • What the hell happened to Latigo Flint?

3/06/2007

You're correct if you think it's a career

I've noticed a hot trend in vocational training: corrections officer. Every time I watch television or pass a billboard, I see a school advertising its state-of-the-art corrections officer program. In as little as 28 weeks, you can be in uniform, making upwards of 30 thousand per year with great benefits, job security, free uniforms, and the opportunity to nightstick the hell out of America's underclass with little-to-no consequence. Sign me up.

That's a big, fat euphemism – corrections officer. Corrections are what you make to a term paper; punishment is what you apply to guys who burn down old folks' homes or beat up people with a steel pipe. I think we should call them punishment technicians. After all, they don't correct. They punish. And once they go to school to learn the trade, they're technicians. That's another word I'm suspicious of – technician. Nobody's a clerk or a fix-it-guy anymore. Everybody's a tech. I saw a want ad in Craig's List for an exterminator technician. Dude, you're squashing bugs, not wiring fiber optic networks.

I wonder what the curriculum is at correctional officer school. What classes need one attend to manage a concrete building chock full of assorted scumbags? Nightsticking 101. Corequisite Lab 102, Shanks and Makeshift Weaponry. Poker, Bridge and Pinochle 201. Cigarette-based Economies. Shitter and Bunk-bed Repair.

Get this. Cadets in law enforcement training, including corrections officers, must be sprayed in the face with mace. I'm not making this up. At least once in every program, you have to stand still while the instructor gives you a shot in the puss with tear gas (no, not the cooter; the face). That's a mild form of chemical warfare! And what for? Aren't you the one with the mace? You should practice spraying the shit, not sucking it in with a light lunch! That's like training for a computer job and the instructor punches you in the stomach. Think fast, Eugene! Slug! What's the training like for librarians? Do they exact a series of paper cuts and promptly soak your fingers in lemon juice? I don't understand the purpose of abusing trainees for no good reason. That would be my first sign that my chosen career was unwise. For example, if I elect to pursue a career in auto mechanics and a few weeks into the training, my instructor wants to smash our hands with a wrench, I'm withdrawing from the program. I'll go be a bar tending technician.

No essay on correction officers would be complete without a crude reference to shower room sexual assaults and prison rapes. Of course they happen. But I doubt it's like they depict in the movies where bribed corrections officers look they other way. In real life, the guards have to intervene. They have to break up the humping and whatnot. Let me stop right there and ask you whether you'd enter a career in which you must frequently dislodge naked men in sexual congress. Maybe instead of a nightstick, they should issue correction officers a crowbar. That way, they could insert the crowbar between hips and butt cheeks and pry the inmates apart. Because they're not going to stop just because a guard is in the vicinity. One surmises that prison shower rapists have no scruples with regard to onlookers. In fact, merely watching may encourage them. Therefore, the officer must intervene physically. This would be a choice time to release a K-9 unit. That's what I'd do. Let the guard dog deal with the prison love. Don't slip on the soap, Fido.