RE: fast food, then other stuff (groping for something)
my friend told me today about this guy who used to work at the subway at his university, who apparently both customers and management didn’t like, and eventually got fired, and how when he put the banana peppers on a sub, rather than grabbing a handful and scattering them as per usual, he would take the pepper rings out one by one and lay them in a line straight down the sub, and how he laid the cheese just a little crooked so that at a certain point in your sub you’d get a bite that was extra cheesy. my friend said his subs were amazing. my favorite specific fast food preparation experience was one time at the quinpool mcdonald’s—well, you know those ads where the people in business suits are eating big macs and talking about how they’re so messy but they love ‘em anyway? i had always thought—argued, even—that this was the case; that the sloppiness was essential to the big mac’s general character. but this one time, this guy named brandon—he was some kind of senior employee, i can’t remember what it was called exactly but he had a tag designating him as like an expert or something—i watched him make it, this perfectly neat big mac, and it was great! i have only encountered the neat big mac this once, but it was enough to make me second-guess my principles on the matter.
this, this kind of stuff, is a thing i feel strongly about! i mean, okay, the ingredients are mass-produced (and probably not in a careful or healthy way), and i’m sure that the corporate guys have worked out a platonic ideal of each menu item and that the staff are taught to conform to this as closely as possible, but in practice, from franchise to franchise and person to person, that simply doesn’t pan out. there are good burgers, there are just-okay burgers, there are occasionally terrible burgers, there are, rarely, amazing burgers; and technically they are all the same burger! have i ever had a perfect-as-per-policy burger? who knows! point is, there is some art to this shit, and i mean obviously fast food is kind of a shitty job and nobody owes it to me to make my order with model airplane t.l.c. and i don’t expect them to and i don’t hold it against them when they don’t, but on those blue moons when someone does, i love and appreciate it a ton, and yes obviously this is hugely trivial and obviously fast food is mass-produced junk but there is nuance even in mass-produced junk if you care about it and pay attention! i’m sorry, i know, this is dumb but i find this stuff really interesting, i talked about it once before (focusing on the differences btwn two local mcdonald’s locations), these little contingencies that humanize the “corporate grid” or whatever you want to call it. and also i just really like burgers and—okay, digression: in grade 6, i was in halifax for a few months because mom was taking a course there, and i went to this private school that she had heard good things about, and i found a kind of a…i dunno, this haughty air about a lot of people there (though there were also some really nice people), and one thing i specifically remember was (for context: this would’ve been a bit after super size me came out) a lot of kids making a show of how gross they found mcdonald’s (it always seemed to be just mcdonald’s). we ate out a lot when i was a kid because [long story], but fast food was always an occasional thing rather than a regular, and mom always made the point that if you otherwise kept a balance it was fine to go for junk occasionally, just to be aware and careful about what you eat, etc; all good lessons even though i don’t really heed them nowadays. and i remember thinking it was odd that these literal children had such strong opinions on this matter, and thinking that they seemed to be conflating a bunch of issues with fast food in general into mcdonald’s because it was, at the moment, a big popular target—which is to say that it seemed like they were parroting their parents’ (possibly also lazy, trendy) opinionatings, and that it was essentially about showing off how much more conscious/refined/whatthefuckever they were. and i really didn’t like that. again, i stress—i’m not trying to say by any stretch that fast food is not super unhealthy and that they’re not super shady about it, nothing like that, but i mean, shit, people can decide for themselves how they want to navigate those issues and fuck off w/yr smug judgements about it
but uhhh anyway, that was a bigger digression than i thought it was going to be, i also probably politicized this more than i meant to. i’m going to try to at least sketch out what this is all about to me. i’m grasping with vaguely/pseudo- theoretical terms, but i’m sure this would fall apart under any actual theoretical analysis; it’s ultimately totally personal. (i don’t know like, anything about marxism or anything like that. seriously, i’m probably just straight-up wrong, this probably doesn’t make any sense, if it seems like i’m trying to make a political/theoretical Statement it’s only because i’m not very smart and bad at expressing myself.) it’s a beaten-to-death satirical trope, the consumerist zombie; individual identity corroded by demographics, brand preferences standing in place of personality, etc. certainly there’s something to it—it may not do any injustice to corporate intentions—but i find it unfairly pessimistic toward us. i’ve always found that inevitably human idiosyncrasy will eat away at the grout of whatever consumerist grid is imposed on us, that we can carve out personal spaces within it. the (unfortunately dubbed) mcgangbang: it’s two official menu items, put together to make an unofficial new item. someone somewhere got the crazy idea to put a mcchicken in the middle of a double cheeseburger, and somehow it worked phenomenally, and the idea blew up! i don’t know, it just seems really great to me, that kind of creative navigation of the consumerscape. (i feel like there’s maybe an analogy to be drawn with urban exploration.) or, another aspect; i associate certain products with certain times, places and people in my life—sentimental connections. for example, i distinctly and fondly associate the beer battered chicken patties & potato wedges w/cheese sauce hungryman with skipping classes hanging out at my friend’s house in the last year of high school (this association is tinged with sadness, mind, because back then it came with a really great spicy sauce on the side that they stopped including like a year after that). my friend has a great thing about the memories each brand of root beer evokes for him. and i guess you could read this as consumerism branding even our inner lives or something, but it feels more to me like…like how sometimes a song feels like it’s written just for you, so can a convenience store snack—like that. i think there’s beauty to be made of this stuff, you know? (i’m not stoned, i swear.)