Excuse me, can I talk to the manager?

I’ve been enjoying revising stories from my collection of memoirs. Turning them into blogs. I’ll get back to regular blogging soon. Just finding a fun distraction as the pandemic (and 2020) stretches on. Anyway, here’s a short revision of a story told in my book Determined Weeds. It’s kind of gross. Enjoy.

***

I was hired at McDonalds when I was sixteen. The summer before my junior year. It wasn’t quite a real McDonalds. It was a Target McDonalds. We had a chip on our shoulder.

Due in equal part to my work ethic and the general manager’s shoddy store management, I was promoted to shift manager within three months. This meant I wore grease-stained ties, made a dollar more per hour than everybody else, and had the ultimate authority to delegate who would be cleaning the grill, doing the dishes, or expediting food.

My good friend Nick worked at McDonalds with me. He would sneer at me when I told him to do something.

“Yes-sir, Mr. shift manager, right away,” Nick would say sarcastically as he lowered Dutch Barbie into the deep fryer.

Nick liked melting Happy Meal toys. I did too, but the gravity of my office would never let me condone such juvenile acts. Our current leaders should be so honorable.

My promotion to shift-manger meant that customers brought their complaints to me.

During one dinner rush, an old man came up to the register that Nick was working.

“Excuse me, did you know there are ants in the store?”

“Ants?” Nick asked sarcastically. “That’s too bad.”

I loved Nick. He was too funny. Still, his response to this old man exacerbated the situation. The kids today would call his comment to the customer triggering. Nick came back into the kitchen.

“Sam,” he told me, “you should probably get out here.”

By the time I was out front, the customer was standing on a table in the lobby screaming at the customers.

“Ants! There are ants everywhere! Don’t eat the food, it’s probably crawling with ants.”

“Sir, can I help you?” I asked.

“ANTS!”

“I’m the manager. Can I help you?”

“ANTS!!!”

Eventually, the man tired himself out and left. After sweeping up a pile of ants congregating near the soda fountain, I did my best to convince the rest of the customers in the lobby that there were no ants in the store, even though there were.

One day, an old woman came up to the counter after eating her McChicken sandwich in the lobby.

“Excuse me, can I talk to the manager?”

I smiled.

“That would be me,” I told her. I looked about twelve at the time. The outfit brought that age up to about thirteen. People always had a hard time believing I was in charge.

“Really? You’re the manager?”

“What can I do for you?”

“I don’t want to alarm you, but I think there’s a worm in this McChicken.”

The woman handed me her half-eaten McChicken sandwich. A worm was hanging out of the processed meat.

Alarmed? I was mortified. It took everything I had not to gag. I figured a lawsuit would follow.

“I’m so sorry, ma’am,” I told this woman. “What can I do? Do you want me to refund the sandwich? Do you want me to file a complaint with corporate?”

“That’s okay,” she told me. “Could I just have a new McChicken sandwich?”

I watched as the woman sat down and ate another McChicken sandwich in the lobby. My mind couldn’t process the scene. This woman had just found a worm in her sandwich, and now she was munching away?

I put the sandwich with the worm hanging out of it in the freezer, left a note for the general manager, and never ate anything from McDonald’s again.

May this cautionary tale have a similar effect on you, gentle reader.

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