“Yes, I’d like three McDoubles with extra cheese.” The Fat Man said.
“Three McDoubles, extra cheese. Would you like fries with that?” The Cashier asked.
“Uhhh…” delayed the Fat Man. The cashier waited.
Behind the Fat Man was another, much busier man. This man was much more important and all around more aesthetically pleasing.
“Jesus could you hurry it up?” demanded the Important Man.
“Yeah sorry I’ll just have the small fries” apologized the Fat Man. He was on a diet.
“Okay,” said the cashier, “Your total will be…”
How much? How much?? Jesus Christ, could this take any longer? It’s just a cash register you dumb bitch just press the God-damn buttons.
“Sorry we’re just having a little difficulty with the machines right now, hold on a sec”
Just do the math in your fucking head!! It’s a burger with cheese and small fries, the price is right behind you, you idiot. Naturally the Important Man kept his thoughts to himself, but boy was he ready to share these thoughts online.
“There we go, sorry about that. Your total comes to six dollars and fifty-eight cents.”
Finally. The Fat Man dunked his gross, greasy palms into the cavernous pockets of his cargo shorts and pulled out his Planet Hollywood wallet. How tacky, thought the Important Man behind him. His wallet was slim and elegant, and much more appropriate for professional interactions should he ever have the urgent need to present both his wallet and himself professionally. Yes, should the Important Man ever be delaying a fast food line in front of an even More Important Man, his wallet would not be not be subjected to the same level of judgment with which he was subjecting the Fat Man’s wallet. Yes, this much he could be sure of and at least he had that, he thought to himself. At least he had that.
“Uhh, I only have 6.50” The fat man belched.
Uh oh. This was not good for the cashier, clearly. She had a job to do. One job, really. Collect cash, that’s it. It’s in her name, even. The cash-ier. How could she, a cashier of high regard and moral standing within her community, allow such a wretched and fat person to slide by on his obligation to pay for what was clearly the cause of his own problems. In fact, the cashier thought to herself, she was doing the world a moral disservice by even allowing him to eat food, let alone help him eat what he can’t afford. The more she thought about it, the more she hated him. It’s eight cents, how can a person be so pathetic to be eight cents short of a McDouble. Moreover, the problem could be easily solved by lowering down one Mc. Surely a single burger would be both delicious and affordable. On the other hand, she didn’t care nearly enough to argue.
“Yeah that’s fine whatever,” she said. Very few seconds had passed since the fat man spoke.
This delay would have normally infuriated the Important Man, but he had become preoccupied with thoughts of his wallet and how he planned on presenting it to all the people he knew who were more important than he was. He took his wallet out of his pocket and quickly put it back in again, practicing. Just in case.
Unfortunately for the Important Man, the man behind him was much less important and was therefore worthless.
Behind the Worthless Man, however, was a Very Important Man. This man suffered from nearsightedness though, and was tragically unable to recognize the quality of the Important Man’s wallet.
By the time the Important Man had ordered and received his McChicken, the Worthless Man had made up his mind and was determined not to take up anyone’s valuable time. No sir, if there was an Important Man standing right behind him, it would be guaranteed that this Important Man would not be annoyed or forced to criticize the greasiness of the Worthless Man’s palms. And they were quite greasy.
“Welcome to McDonald’s, how may I help you.”
Yes. This was it. This was the moment he had been waiting for all along. He knew his order.
“Hello I’d like to order one Big Mac, hold the cheese, with small fries and a small coke.”
He wanted Medium, but that’s okay, it’s too late now. He held his breath.
“Okay, and your total comes to $5.69”
Perfect. He had that much in his bank account, almost definitely. He could tell that everyone was watching, so he was sure to impress when he whipped out his –
Uh oh. Where could it be? Absolute worst nightmare.
“Um. I seem to have misplaced my wallet” he said aloud, not entirely sure what he expected people to do about that.
“Oh,” said the cashier. Another one. “Well what do you want me to do about that?”
“Uhh…” droned the Worthless Man. He had really hoped a solution would have popped into his head by now. The obvious solution was to simply retract the order and get it later after he brought his wallet, but he was hungry so he didn’t want to do that.
“Uhh…” he repeated, hoping to buy some time yet not entirely sure how that would end up buying time. In fact, it had only served to draw even more attention to the fact that he didn’t know what to do. What a faux-pas. What a ridiculous, pathetic little man he was. Everyone hated him, he could tell. He hated everyone else, so it made sense.
“Excuse me,” the Important Man said with a twinkle in his eyes, “Did I hear that correctly? You’ve misplaced your wallet?”
“Uhh…” he repeated, yet again. Now he was only doing it because people had come to expect it from him. “Yes, that’s right. I’ve misplaced my wallet.”
Perfect. With a flash, the Important Man whipped it out.
“That’ll be $5.69,” the cashier said, probably thinking about how great this guy’s wallet was.
“No please,” pleaded the worthless man, “You really don’t have to.” Though when he thought about it, he really wanted this guy to buy a meal for him. If this guy could afford a suit, he could probably afford a Big Mac, hold the cheese, with small fries and a small coke. Actually, if this guy was paying then he could probably afford a Medium.
“No really, I insist,” insisted the Important Man.
“Well, okay.” On second thought, switching to a Medium would be rude and selfish. The Worthless Man thought better of it.
“That’ll be $5.69,” the cashier repeated. Boy, the Important Man thought to himself, this cashier must really want to see this wallet. Well, might as well give them what they demand.
He plunged his hands deep, deep into the recesses of his back pocket. Yes, back pocket. He wasn’t a front-pocket heathen like the disgusting fat man who was once in front of him. Slowly and with elegance he lifted the wallet out of his pockets. How smooth, he thought, how graceful. This wallet was all-around perfect. Filled with cash but not unnecessarily fattened with expired gift cards and hotel keys. Touch-wise, it was magnificent. Its leather was a thrill to feel and brought an erotic pleasure to all who held it. So smooth, so fine. Delicious, even. If you can eat beef, then why not leather? Truly, this was the filet-mignon of wallets.
“Will that be debit or credit?”
“Credit.” Obviously. What did she think he was, poor?
“Excuse me,” boomed a voice from behind. “Is that your wallet?”
The Important Man spun around, giddy, and came face-to-face with none other than the Very Important Man himself.
“Why, yes it is,” he replied, withholding a blush. “Why do you ask?”
“Oh, no reason…” the Very Important Man said, clearly withholding his reasoning. “May I… may I hold it?”
Excellent. “Of course!”
The Very Important Man held the wallet close to his heart. He ran his fingers lightly against its surface, feeling it, smelling it. “So smooth… so fine…”
Wow. This could not be going any better. If he played his cards right, the Important Man could be well on the tracks to becoming a Very Important Man. He waited patiently.
“You know young man, you remind me of myself when I was a young man. Thankfully I’ve become much more important since then, but still, you’ve got spunk, kid. And a great taste in wallets.”
“Oh, thank you sir. That’s very kind of you to say.” Wow. This was everything he had ever dreamed of happening, all at once. And all because some worthless kid didn’t understand the delicacy and responsibility that comes with being a wallet-owner.
“You know, we could use someone like you over in our office. No one else seems to be able to truly understand the weight and complexity of wallets.”
“Right? When you think about it, all you really are is your wallet,” the Important Man stated with pride.
“Or your clothes.”
Yes that’s true, the Important Man thought. “Or hair,” he added confidently.
“What do you mean, hair?”
What? What did he mean by hair? He searched through his thoughts frantically, hoping to find an explanation for his foolish comment. He had taken things too far. “Well,” he began, “hair is pretty important, don’t you think?”
“No,” stated the Very Important Man. “Hair is not important.” This was a strange thing for him to say though, as he had a lovely head of hair and seemed to have few reasons to diminish its importance.
“Oh…” delayed the Important Man, not entirely sure where the conversation was heading, “you’re right. Totally and absolutely.”
The following thirty seconds of silence felt more like two minutes of silence, at least. They both seemed to expect the other one to talk, though neither would.
“One Big Mac, hold the cheese, medium fries and a medium coke?”
Glorious days! Could it be, thought the Worthless Man? Hath Providence held him in such high regard as to bestow upon him this fortune? A Medium! A Medium! He could practically leap for joy.
Woah! Hold up. He couldn’t forget that he was in a McDonald’s right now. To show such innocent and sincere emotions regarding something as simple as Medium Fries would be frail and pathetic. He was a proud heterosexual, and not at all like those all-in-your-face-about-it heterosexuals you see all the time in the media. He was careful never to display either too much pleasure or too much aggression.
Should the others around him ever understand the true depth of emotions he felt, they would think he was super weird. Would they? Probably. They’re probably even weirder though. In fact, the Worthless Man thought, they’re probably the weirdest people in this McDonalds. Look at those suits, that weird obsession with wallet texture. When nobody’s looking they probably pay their shoe shiners to tickle their feet or something. Sure, he had that weird thing about dolls, but the Worthless Man knew that was peanuts in comparison to the freaks around him. Suddenly, he began thinking about dolls again.
“One Big Mac, hold the cheese, medium fries and a medium coke?” Surely, the cashier thought to herself, the customers could at least try a little bit to pay attention and make her job easier. But she knew they were only just going to blame her anyways. Whatever.
“Oh sorry, that’s me I think” peeped the Worthless Man, grabbing his bag and scurrying away.
Finally, the Cashier thought to herself. What a weird and worthless guy. He forgot his receipt but he probably doesn’t care. Honestly who ever cares about the receipt? They could probably stop printing receipts at fast food restaurants forever and probably not a single thing would change. In fact it’s probably a huge waste of paper. She thought back to the thousands of receipts she had thrown out in her cashier-ing career and resented the bourgeois pigs responsible. Had it even been thousands of receipts? Millions? Jesus, has she really worked at McDonald’s long enough to have thrown out a million receipts? How big even is a million anyways?
“One Filet O’Fish, please.” Right, the customers.
She turned her attention to the source of her annoyance and instantly recognized that she was talking a Very Important Man. Play it safe, she remembered, Important People always represent a risk to the status quo.
“One Filet O’Fish. Would you like fries with that?” she said as safely as she could.
“No. I’m on a diet. Obviously.”
“Yes of course. You have an incredibly slim physique, as well as an impressively manicured head of hair.” That was not nearly as safe as the sentence she had been expecting to say, which was something more along the lines of “One Filet O’Fish coming up.”
“Really? You think so?” The Very Important Man very much enjoyed having his ego stroked, among other things. “You know, I’m always saying that Hair is the most important asset we have. All you really are is your hair.”
Now that sentence sent the regular old Important Man into a severe internal rage. How dare he!
“You low, slithering creature!” he shouted.
“What?” The Very Important Man turned around. Was that an insult? That was a really weird insult he thought to himself. Kind of lame, really.
“You said that hair doesn’t matter, and yet here you are! Praising the merits of hair right in front of me! That was my idea! I said that.”
Meanwhile, the Worthless man was just about to drive out of the parking lot when he remembered that he hadn’t thanked the Important Man for paying for his Big Mac hold the Cheese, Medium Fries, and a Medium Coke. He knew that going back and thanking him was the polite thing to do, but would it be weird? It had been at least a couple minutes already, would the guy even appreciate him coming all the way back into the store just to say thank you? He probably wouldn’t. He’d probably say something like “What? Who are you? Did you seriously walk all the way back to this McDonald’s just because you forgot to thank me? What’s your problem? Why are you so weird?”
But what if he didn’t say that? What if he said “Young man, I know you didn’t have to come all the way back here just to thank me, but you did anyways. That shows positive character traits and I’m interested in pursuing a potential friendship with you”. What if this guy was the next Bill Gates? Then he’d really want to get on his good side. Or what if this guy was the next Hitler? Then he’d really, really want to get on his good side. He resolved to go back to McDonald’s.
“All I wanted was a fucking McChicken and a potential job opportunity or maybe even a friendship and yet again I don’t get to have my way!!”
The Worthless Man instantly regretted his decision.
“I even bought this fucking loser his lunch so I would seem altruistic and like a worthwhile person to know. Look at him! Look what a loser he is, and I still bought him lunch!” By now the Important Man was on autopilot, while The Worthless Man was more or less parked.
“His untucked shirt, his unmatched belt. His greasy, greasy palms! He doesn’t even have a wallet! What do you say kid, do you have a wallet? Why did you even walk back in here? Is this some kind of racket, huh? Pretend not to have a wallet so the obviously more Important and likely handsome, kind, and generous Men in the room take pity on you and buy your food? What are you, homeless? I bet you think you’re real fucking clever. But your whole plan fell through, cause I’m still in this McDonalds because this DUMB FUCKING BITCH at the counter can’t even take an order right, because she’s so slow and incompetent at every single thing she’s ever done and everyone else is just so fat or incompetent or otherwise degenerate and counterproductive!”
For the first time in a very long time, the Worthless Man felt good. Sure, this guy was being a huge asshole, but he was making a bigger ass of himself than the Worthless Man ever would. By comparison, everyone probably thought he was a much cooler and more sympathetic than the important man. He didn’t appreciate the insults, but what better way to climb up the social ladder than by having people pity you? And besides, his palms were greasy. There’s no use in fighting against facts.
He could take it all. No insult was too great to break his moral high ground. And once he dropped the bomb that he had only walked in to say thank you, he knew he’d absolutely crush it in terms of Sympathy Points. This guy would feel so bad. He’d look like such an idiot, and in front of everyone!
“Actually,” the Worthless Man began, suppressing a smile, “I only came back in to say Thank You for buying my meal.” Boom. Bombshell – Dropped.
This was it, the Worthless Man knew. A moment of reckoning.
Here it comes! Was that a lip quivering? A twinge of guilt, perhaps?
“You walked all the way out, got in your car, drove away, and then turned all the way back just because you forgot to thank me? I mean, who even are you? What did you expect, I’d be so happy to see a polite young man in this society that I’d drop your pants right there and suck your dick? I knew you were a loser but I didn’t even consider how worthless you were. You care that much about my opinion of your politeness that you wasted so much time just to let me know you appreciated a free meal? Of course you appreciated it, you IDIOT! What is your problem? Why are you so weird!?”
Silence. This was not how any of these people expected this day to go. Except for maybe the cashier.
After practicing some Internal Smiling, the Important Man was able to calm himself down from his episode. For a moment, he considered apologizing to the people around him but realized that if he acknowledged that what he did was wrong (which it was, he knew), then no one would be able to say “Well at least he stuck to his guns”, which he knew was a really important trait to people. So instead, he decided to double down.
“You all make me sick” he said for some reason. He didn’t exactly know how they made him sick, but at least now everyone would be asking “Why do we make him sick?” instead of asking “What’s this guy’s problem?
There was no backing out now. He had made such a fool of himself, but he knew that he would only look like a fool if he acknowledged that he was one. He wasn’t like the Worthless Man; he wasn’t going to spend precious thoughts of his worrying about what other people would think about him. If anyone thought he cared what they think then they would lose all the respect he had tried so hard to gain.
“Disgusting.” He said, slowly losing his grasp on how he was planning to handle the situation. The more he thought about it the more he realized how much he needed to leave, but he recognized that leaving would be conceding defeat. And he never lost.
The Worthless Man was dumbstruck. He had never expected anyone to ever behave so irrationally and so counter to common decorum. He was at a complete loss for words. He wanted nothing more to tell this guy off but recognized that that would only be stooping down to the other guy’s level.
The Cashier was more or less unsurprised and was simply grateful for the opportunity to not be handling fistfuls of sweaty bills.
“Excuse me” the Very Important Man spoke up. “I understand there might be some heavy tension in the room, but I might have some information that could alleviate it.”
Knowing the spotlight was on him, the Very Important Man took his sweet time in delivering the news. Everyone waited desperately to hear what he had to say. And they waited. And they waited.
“My name is…” he continued. And they waited a little longer.
They waited still more, clearly not knowing who that is.
“And I’m with CBS on UnderCover Boss!!!”
“Whaaaaaaaaat!! No way dude! We’re on TV!” shouted some guys in the back that hadn’t been involved in any of the conflicts so far. The rest of the restaurant erupted at the prospect of being televised. Dozens of otherwise quiet and uninterested patrons began shouting and searching for hidden cameras. Discontented frycooks in the back kitchen smiled at each other, newly contented at the prospects of their future after being featured on CBS’s hit show Undercover Boss. Even our beloved cashier seemed unusually self-aware and posed.
The only two not sharing in the excitement were none other than the Important and Worthless Men, who by now had become petrified with fear at the prospect of being clearly seen in the homes of millions of Americans.
The Important Man yet again debated over whether or not he should apologize, though he quickly realized that if he apologized after doubling down it would look like he only apologized when he realized other people were watching him, and that would be the worst option yet.
“You’re a piece of shit and your company is poisoning America.” Yes, tripling down was the correct choice, he thought. “And hair is extremely important, too. I was right about that.” Can’t let them forget that, either.
Surprisingly, the Very Important Man stuck out his hand.
“You know, I gotta say that I find your honesty extremely refreshing. Even when the pressure to back down was high, you really stuck to your guns. That’s the kind of thinking we need around here. How’d you like to be the CEO of McDonalds?”
This is a test, the Important Man thought. Don’t be a Worthless Man. Don’t thank him.
“Fuck you,” he spat back at Steve Esterbrook
Perfect. All according to plan. This was probably also giving CBS huge ratings. The Important Man fantasized about the millions of Americans at home right now watching his inspirational rags-to-riches story unfolding right before their very eyes.
“And you,” Steve Esterbrook began, turning to the cashier. “I have to say that I’m very disappointed in your performance. How much time has passed since that grotesquely fat man walked in? And how many customers have you served? 3? 4? It’s clear to me that you don’t care about your job.”
“And here at McDonalds, we need to have a team that’s incredibly passionate about everything they do, from when they first see our Golden Arches until their last satisfied customer. And unfortunately, if you’re not in touch with the McDonald’s spirit, then we have no option but to McTerminate your employment.”
That’s fine. That’s absolutely fine. She can always just go get another job somewhere else. Or not. She’d probably get a nice McSeverance package because McDonalds wouldn’t want to look bad in front of all the fine folks at CBS.
“What about me?” the Worthless Man asked. It had been some time since he had last spoken and he was sure that everyone was curious about what he had to say.
“Who are you?” asked Steve Esterbrook.
“Nevermind, sorry…” the Worthless Man mumbled.
As the interviews and celebrations continued, the Worthless Man snuck out of the restaurant without even so much as glancing at those Release Forms that the producer began handing out. If McDonalds or CBS have any decency then he would be in the clear, as far as his anxieties went anyways.
On his way to the car, he began to reevaluate the whole situation. The more he thought about it, the more he realized what a cool story he had to tell people. “You’ll never believe it,” he’d say to people, “I was on CBS’s hit show Undercover Boss.”
“No way!” his hypothetical audience would say, “You were on TV?”
“Yeah,” he would say. “I was on TV”
“That’s cool,” they would say.
“It’s not that cool,” he would say, though deep down he knew it really was that cool.
So many potential friends, he thought. He’s closer now than ever before to being an Important Man with cool stories and a television appearance. And best of all, without even spending a dime he still had his Big Mac, hold the cheese, Medium Fries and a Medium Coke. He reached deep into the bag, eager to re-experience his favorite memories from McDonalds. He was finally happy.
But by then, it had already gone cold.