I had a long day yesterday, as I had to start early in order to get my day job items finished by noon, so I could use the rest of the day on another project. That project took me out of the house and on the road until late in the evening. By the time I got home and settled in it was near bedtime. That also meant I had no time to eat along the way, so by the time I was making the trip home I was starving. The last thing I wanted to do was cook, so I decided to stop at a fast-food place.
The first stop was McDonald’s, which is probably the default for most people around the world when you need food in a pinch. The food is not terrible tasting, a bit nostalgic for most Americans, but it is always the same. Outside of the rare exceptions, the burger from the McDonald’s in Europe is going to taste the same as one from Asia, which will be the same as one from Idaho. I was not hankering for a Big Mac, but I had to eat something and that seemed like an easy option.
The drive through had about four or five cars in it when I arrived. Ten minutes later there were a few more cars and I had not moved an inch. Then more cars and then finally the line started to move. It was one of those deals with two ordering lanes and one pay and get your food lane. I question whether this is any better in terms of speed of processing, but it does let them stack up more cars. This last bit is something that is becoming a feature of fast food – waiting for your food.
I get to the order spot and a saucy sassy diverse female voice flippantly asks me what I want, like I just rolled up to her crib, as the locals put it. I asked for the number seven, which is two cheeseburgers, fries, and a drink. McDonald’s no longer has a small, so the small is now a medium. We had a minor debate about my demand for medium as she kept saying large. At least that is what I thought as it sounded like she was at a house party rather than the drive up window.
I am fifteen minutes into this by the time I creep up to the first window, where I expected to pay nine dollars for what used to be on the dollar menu. There is no one there, but the car in front of me is in loud negotiations with the person handing bags of food, so I just sit waiting. A young urban youth appears at the window and begins doing a funky dance for some reason. He is twirling and spinning, while he laughs and talks to someone off screen. He then leaves the scene.
Finally, I pull up to the second window, expecting to pay, but a sassy female who sort of looked like Grimace, if he had been in the sun too long, tells me that I need to pay funky dance guy in the previous window. I told her there was no one there, so she left, and I think she went to yell at him. She comes back and tells me funky dance man is back in his window. I think she expected me to get out and walk back to pay him, as she just stared at me, but I drove off instead.
Next up was a Wendy’s a block away. It has been a long time since I visited with Dave as I do not have fast food very often. When I was on the road all the time, Wendy’s was a preferred stop of the conventional chains. Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King were my order of preference if I had to choose. That was long ago and now I avoid this stuff for the most part. They have added things since my last time. The big special item was what looked like nachos between two trashcan lids.
After a ten-minute wait, a sassy diverse female demanded to know why I was bothering them, and I told her I wanted a double burger meal. I noted that the prices were a bit better than McDonald’s. The double burger meal was $7.49. The big garish looking things were all over ten bucks. I get to the window, and I am told by the man in every ad now that I owed them $11.49. I told him the sign says $7.49 and he told me he did not give a bleep; the meal is $11.49. I drove off.
At this point I was thinking that maybe Uncle Ted was right all along. I am not talking about industrial society and its future. I am not even thinking about the letter bombing campaign, at least not now. He may have been onto something with the off grid living business, despite the compromises on hygiene. At these moments, I can understand why so many white guys still think Ayn Rand speaks to their soul. At least they would never have to see another funky dance.
I have written often about what happens when you try to run a technological society with lots of low-IQ people. Anyone who has spent time in South America or California has glimpsed the future. Even simple things become increasingly inefficient and then people seek to work around the bottlenecks, which adds to the inefficiency. In South America they have an expression called “the Latin way” which means lots of people buzzing about looking busy, but not accomplishing much.
If you add in an aggressively hostile and entitled population to the mix, it is hard to see how we keep the plates spinning. Fast food places keep going mostly on inertia, as they have been a part of the culture for generations. At some point, they either get automated or people abandon them. In other words, in order to maintain the technological society, it will mean masses of unemployed, aggressively hostile and entitled people looking for something to do.
One final thought. The 1990’s action flick Demolition Man probably had the near future about right when they imagined a world run by managerial silly people attempting to control a population of troublemakers. That is where our rulers think this is heading, except they are smart enough to keep a lid on things. The beautiful people and their attendants will manage a giant outdoor penal colony. Maybe they are right, but they best not expect to get a fast-food meal late at night.
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