The workers in their hard hats, paint-stained jeans and plaid shirts queue. The sun, blazing with optimism and best intentions, makes some guys squint. I haven't taken off my shades. The breast pocket of the plaid shirt I'm wearing is laden with keys and wallet. I dig in, looking for some change, but Dan says he'll get it.
The McDonalds army weave and bob, working in symmetry. The assembly line is occasionally disrupted by human error. Someone has forgotten a coffee order. Someone has placed an Egg McMuffin in the wrong bag. Someone is gazing out the window. They quickly snap back to attention, these McDonalds workers. Woe to the wandering mind -- one false misstep and someone might get trampled. Traffic is everywhere. It's 8 a.m.
Up until a year ago, I hadn't stepped into a McDonalds for over 35 years. When I was a teenager, I had a t-shirt made up that said McDonalds Rules All. I have disdain and mistrust for the processed food industrial/agricultural complex. I delight in things like rutabagas and celeriac root; ugly vegetables in their natural state. While I appreciate fine dining and support anything organic and local, I am also keenly aware of our two-tiered food system. As one writer wrote in (I think) an Atlantic Monthly article, people starving in poor nations don't care if food is locally sourced, gluten-free and dolphin-friendly -- they want sustenance to stay alive.
Dan, my wood-working, all-around guy who deals in physical reality, need sustenance. He needs his $1.49 muffin and coffee. He has lived off the stuff for over a decade. He just loaded nearly one thousand pounds of plywood into the van. Dan weighs 146lbs. Is he addicted? Hell yeah. Will he give up his $1.49 coffee and muffin? No.
Young mothers with strollers, blue collar workers, people over 70 -- they are all milling, McD bags in tow, looking for a seat. The 8 a.m. sun is brilliant, slanting and expansive at the same time.
No one is bothered by the two-tier food system here. I brood. Dan notices, splits his cranberry muffin in two and hands me some.
Hungry, I take it.
My screenplay The Mac And Watson Springtime Reeferendum Show won the 2013 TIFF Screenwriting Intensive Jury Prize.