The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

McDonald’s, with its internationally known Golden Arches beckoning, is the destination of choice this week. Why? Because there’s one roughly 0.2 miles from my apartment.

Walking toward the McDonald’s, I wonder just how many people can say the exact same thing. I look to the driver at the drive-thru window, and he gives a little wave. I’m free to cross to walk inside.

The exterior is pleasant. That’s it, pleasant. It’s familiar, like a drug habit, or a guilty pleasure.

Inside – I’m at once greeted by a sense of irony. Or maybe it’s just right. A young, athletic looking woman, sporting a surprisingly clean looking McDonald’s uniform is handing a bag of food to a very obese man. Here, this looks like it’s more your style than mine, she seems to be saying.

It’s around 2:30 pm, so there is no line. There are a few people eating in the restaurant. Some teenagers who are happily wasting a summer day. A few mechanics on a late lunch break, or maybe they’re charging you labor while they deliberate over some fries.

While I’m noticing the people, another person comes in the restaurant. I decide to hurry up to the counter.

Given the clerk’s demeanor, one can only imagine the horrors that must be a part of his life. His sombre, angry, bored, and holier-than-thou countenance leave me to wonder what odd mix of things must be happening behind the counter. He takes my order with the amount of respect one normally reserves for cockroaches. He responds to my sincere thank you with an annoyed, “next,” and all I can do is hope that one day his life will be better.

The menu, while serving its obvious purpose, goes beyond that. It is a teacher of life. Depicted on the board are the names of the various food items, their prices, and next to some of them – a picture. It is with these pictures that I find a valuable life lesson. The lesson is disappointment. The stark truth of reality.

On the menu, an ideal is presented. This is a quarter pounder with cheese. It has been crafted with care, using only the freshest of all of its ingredients. Smiling, happy people made this burger. Who else could’ve made such a marvelous looking thing?

Looking at the tray directly below me – reality is instead seen. A small box with a sticker that says “-pickles,” contains a burger that is missing onions, but has pickles. The buns look like they were beaten flat to save space, the burger somehow looks homesick (I didn’t know this was possible), the lettuce leftover from a high school food fight, the pickles … indescribable. The mustard and ketchup look good, though.

Is that the true purpose of McDonald’s? To teach kids from a young age that lies will greet you at every turn, and that you should accept them early? Surely, some children must complain when they see what they get compared to what is advertised. Here, McDonald’s works its magic – breaking you down to accept reality, while you stare at the tray, with it’s paper placemat, containing pictures of beautiful things that you don’t have.

The food, I’ve eaten here before, is McDonald’s food. If I traveled five hundred years into the future, and everything seemed strange and foreign and frightening – the Golden Arches would be a God send. Humans may have evolved gills, or learned to speak telepathically, or we’re no longer born with an appendix (not that I could tell by looking at someone, but I’d get a vague notion) – but McDonald’s would still be the same. Promising quality, delivering in quantity.

For more information, please visit

Food: 2/5 stars
Service: 1/5 stars
Fun I had doing this: 4/5 stars
Amount of caffeine in me because I’ve been getting re-fills as I’ve been writing this: 5/5 stars


Comments on: "Travel Writing – McDonald’s" (7)


    I didn’t actually watch this video yet, but it appears to be the answer of where the food in the ads comes from. Quote from the article though: “It turns out – would you believe it – that though the photographers use the same base products, they cook everything carefully and slowly, adding each ingredient in just the right way so that the camera can pick up everything they want to show off, be it pickles, cheese, ketchup or whatever. ”

    Also, did you add this to yelp?

  2. I can’t image a McDonalds employee not completely thrilled with his vocation.

  3. Those pictures aren’t of real food. They’re just models painted up to look real. Even the shots of crystal ice with coke streaming into the cup is fake. Professional food photographers fake it for print ads and commercials.

    So it’s even more of lie they’re telling children. But hey, at least Grimace is real.

    • What what what! I actually learned something on my blog, that is slightly more surprising than what I learned.

      Actually, what you said isn’t that surprising.

  4. “Here, this looks like it’s more your style than mine, she seems to be saying.” – Genius.

    I don’t eat at McDonald’s often, but every now and then I have a craving…Maybe it’s withdrawal from whatever cheap drug is in the food, but I need it.

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