The last two weeks have been hell for me. The stress gave me a cold again, made me irritable and caused some other stress related health issues. The next two won't be much better, and this week started out poorly, with me working Sunday, then Monday until 7:00, then hopping on a plane for the last flight to Thunder Bay. I had no time to eat, other than in the cab on the way to the airport, but I had no time to actually get anything good, or tasty.
So I went to McDonald's.
This is like 2 posts involving McDonald's in the last month, but honestly, I don't eat there very often, especially after Super Size Me. (Though ironically, reading Fast Food Nation made me want to eat at McDonald's more than I normally would have.)
Anyhow, I decided to get my usual, which was a quarter pounder with cheese combo, but things were slow, so as I waited I got to hear a few different people order. The person directly in front of me ordered something I thought was a little odd… a double big mac, probably the least healthy thing on the McDonald's menu, and indeed perhaps any fast food menu, and a small milk, possibly the healthiest thing on the McDonald's menu.
Looking at the guy didn't really explain things. He was a smallish, older guy. The type of person you can imagine being an accountant. He was wearing a suit, but with a baseball cap. Another symbol of the odd duality I suppose, but it got me to wondering, what makes people order the things they order? What makes us be what we are?
All of us like to think of ourselves as unique in some way, but the older I get, sadly, the less unique I feel. I think that's fairly common, with adolescence, we all think we're invicible, destined to be the king or queen or the world. As we age, we realize we're probably not destined for the throne.
The thing that put it all in perspective for me was the truly fantastic show Connections, by James Burke. That show broadened my mind in two very important ways. The first was the show itself, which if you haven't seen is a simply marvellous show about the way history evolved in ways other than what we think. I'll say more in another post. I hope someday the show is aired again so you can watch it.
The other way it changed my perspective on the world was the end of what I believe was the last episode. The show had started with Mr. Burke standing next to a conveyor belt, then meandered back and forth over hundreds of years of history, finally ending up back in the factory, which we then discovered was a cookie factory, churning out little gingerbread men by the hundreds. The show then took a turn for the philosophical, with James asking you to think about what was in your pockets. He then emptied out his pockets, showing some keys, some change, some gum or candy or some such. He then pondered if any of us really had anything in our pockets that wasn't in the pockets of millions of other people. Because, he pondered, if we weren't in there, where are we? Burke then raised his hands above his head in an eerie gesture, and the picture dissolved from him to one of the gingerbread men on the conveyor belt, traveling down the line in the same eerie pose, surrounded by other identical cookies.
I had ordered a quarter pounder with cheese combo, probably the most commonly ordered meal on earth. At least that guy had ordered something that you have to admit, for McDonald's, was pretty darn rare. Although I couldn’t stomach it, I can respect it.