McMidnight at McDonald's



Due to having a substandard internet provider (no names; let's just say my net good outcome with them has been zero), and not being able to have my new wireless installed at home for two weeks, I've recently become an online nomad, trolling my town for free wi-fi.

I've spent many a late hour this week, in my trusty Malibu, Iternetting in the parking lot of my local McDonald's, McMocha in hand (and once in my lap; more on that later).  The activity you see in and around these joints in the middle of the night is amazing. I had no idea my town was so hoppin' after dark. (Me being me, I figured everyone was home abed, shagging.)

My McDonald's is just east of a Fuller's car-wash/mini-mart/gas station, with a strip mall behind it with a pizza joint, a donut shop (called "Fresh Donuts" - a dis to Dunkin' Donuts, one presumes), a UPS store and a liquor vendor.  The parking lots of these entities are interconnected, and both Fuller's and Mc's have free wi-fi, so I can get a signal from either wherever I park.  It's the perfect spot to hunker down for nocturnal Internet sessions - safe-ish, well-lit and rife with strange activity.

The Mc's is a 24-hour one, in a populous location, so the drive-up has a goodly amount of traffic pretty much constantly.  (It also has the most well-kept public loo I've ever seen.)  It's at the north end of a small industrial park and less than half a mile from the UP train tracks.  So it's not uncommon to see shift workers, truckers who have to park their rigs on the side street and even the occasional hobo (do they still call them that?) walking up to the store (or drive-up, if the dining room's closed) for their Big Mac fix.

My first night there last week, I watched a refrigerated McSemi get unloaded of all its McFood - boxes of frozen fries, quarter and 10-to-1 patties, etc.  I worked at Mc's as a kid, and I know exactly how this works - 40 years later and still the same procedure - the truck offloads its booty down a roller-ramp directly into the huge, basement walk-in freezer.  There, a few unfortunate crewmembers in insulated McJackets trundle the boxes to the appropriate freezer location, on skids, until the truck is empty.  I once got locked in the freezer for a good half-hour (the inside saftey handle had broken off) and it was pretty freakin' scary.  And very, very cold.

When I worked there, frozen fries weighed 36 lbs.per box and quarter and 10-to-1 patties, 30 lbs. each.  Those boxes then had to be carried up a long flight of stairs to the restaurant itself.

At one time, I could carry up two boxes of fries by myself, or three boxes of the patties.  That's 72 and 90 lbs., respectively, babies.  Today I can barely lift a Quarter-Pounder to my mouth.  (Which is just as well, as I've been dieting.)

For you observational types who are asking, "what in the hell does 10-to-1 mean?," it means 10 patties to a pound, frozen weight.  Just as "quarter meat" is 4 quarter-pounder patties to a pound (duh).  Don't know if it's still 10-to-1 today, but I can at least assure you that at the Mc's I worked at, yes, the meat was pure beef.  (If any of you have read the book, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, you know that's not necessarily a good thing - in fact, after I read the book, I couldn't eat fast-food anything for years - but I'm not here to get all Chrissie-Hynde-vegan-let's-firebomb-a-McDonald's on ya'.  Moderation and sanity, tribe.)

Anyhoo, back to my nocturnal McVists.  One night, as I was parked in a back space not close to the restaurant and deep into some website, someone tapped on my window, scaring the bejesus out of me.  I looked up and into the eyes of a dude in a black hoodie, big pack on his back and a t-shirt that read, "Got Glock?"  (You know - a parody of, "Got Milk?")  All I could think of is, if this guy has a Glock, I'm seriously screwed and possibly dead.  I had my window cracked for air, but he was mumbling and I couldn't understand him.  I reached to turn the engine on and started speaking Spanish to him (I know a little), pretending I didn't hablo ingles.  He got really pissed but walked away, as I was backing the car to get the hell outta there.  He disappeared down the embankment leading to the side street and train tracks.  Creepy.

I've parked much closer to the restaurant since.  This week, I've also seen a couple having a HUGE fight, several drunks, many boys on skateboards, a seriously handsome guy in a black Ferrari (man, I love hearing that engine), two cars who ordered at the drive-up but drove out before paying, several obviously homeless men (so sad), and a few local cops, actually a welcome sight at that time of night.  (Too bad they weren't around when Got Glock was harassing me.)

The funniest thing that happened, though, was my drenching my crotch with a very hot medium McMocha.  Since it was so hot, I'd rendered the cup topless and set it on my open window, where the door meets the rear-view mirror, to cool. I do this all the time.  What I don't do all the time is raise the fucking window.  But I did on that night, sending the cup onto my lap and me into a lovely curse tirade.  Shoulda seen my seat.  Looked like my bladder gave way.

So, can't wait for the new wireless router.  Ever heard the adage, when you're not sure who's the jackass in the room, it's probably you?  Substitute "town weirdo" for jackass and "McLot" for room, you have my last week.  Pretty McMuch.

P. S. If my man from Steely Dan bought a franchise, he could call it McDonald Fagen's!
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