Wolf and the Owl
Poetry, Lyrics, Translations
and Musings by Alex Etchart

The Poetics of Macdonalds

By on Tuesday 28th January, 2014

After excusing herself to shout in Hindi at her colleagues making breakfast, the worker turned back to say “no way, once my 10 hours is up, you think I stay one minute longer they don’t pay, for MacDonalds!?” and laughed.

Not quite the mindless automaton the generation raised on 1984 would lead me to believe.

In fact. I was there. I was there because I bought a McMuffin. The one she was shouting in Hindi about. “They understand me because they’re bangladeshi but I don’t understand them.” She adds with a smile. First smile of my day.

Why do it? I did it because I was drunk and hungry. Like so many punters. I’m sure I could write it off as anthropological research and get funding for that shit. But nah. Got the nibbles at 5am and it was open.

“How could you eat that!?” your eyes screech at me from beneath your accusing eyebrows. Hold up, hold up. You can moralise my faltering boycott of MacDonalds corporation, with its RSPCA certified pork – yeah take a moment to square that circle – and you’ll criticise with good reason, hell they’ll be queuing for miles to jeer at me. But you can’t start moralising my taste buds.

And I’ll tell you my new boycott.

I refuse to buy this idea that we’re all going to shit. That we’ve become electric sheep on the conveyor belt to inevitable technocratic doom. And anyone who buys into this global nihilism is complicit with communally manifesting it on a universal scale. Responsible for making it true: by expecting nothing better of others we don’t bother give the best in ourselves.

The poetry of the human spirit is too robust, runs too deep, is too resilient for a couple of generations in a fast food chain to drain it dry. And MacDonalds is only the symptom. If we weren’t forced to work long dreary hours there’d be no desperation for the calorific quick-fix Double Cheeseburger.

So how dare we tarnish all checkout ladies with the same brush. Tell me what is more inhuman, what is more robotic? Doing the best you can with what you’ve been given to scrape by, or treating someone as simple and oblivious, shunning them as unprinipled, labelling them unqualified without taking a moment to talk. Or let’s not even glamorize the ghetto, what about fuck-school need-some-summer-money get a mindless job ‘n’ get it over with. A million stories begin, middle and end in MacDonalds. Relationships mature or break up over Fanta. Children’s dreams are made real by overdressed underpaid clowns at birthdays. Whole families survive wars from minimum wage remittances.

So go on, point me to the robots.

And by setting too much store by the badge someone wears, reduce them to a role, talking in terms like ‘cleaner’ and ‘CEO’ we’re being blinded by brands buildings logos n lights more than anyone

Of course I rage when a small town restaurant is bulldozed to erect an ugly yellow ‘M’, but should I not then boycott all parks that once were forests? And okay its not ‘organic free trade fair range’ well where does the morality lie when drinking the very water in Palestine pays the occupation contractors to maintain it.

Cannot an epiphany that might happen whilst contemplating a sparrow on a branch, dawn whilst dunking nuggets in red dip?

So my biggest boycott of the quote unquote system is between the Asdas and the Lidls, the coffee stalls and the checkout cues, to tickle for the human spirit leaking through the seams. And I’ll look ever harder for it the more tills and shelves and self-help machines and presumptions and class-isms and you stack in my way.

Posted in: Occupy, Poems

Blog owner, singing/strumming person, word speaker, community arts make-happen-er, eco-baby.

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