Remember when you brought your kids to MacDonalds because it was the only place they could run around and be the little demons they were. The tables were fixed to the floor defying them to renovate. The utensils were made of plastic ….try drumming on the table with them . No crashes or clangs. The play area was as secure as San Quentin…good heavy doors , immovable play area , parent viewing window. And they could run up and down the whole MacDonald’s arena without raising an eyebrow.
Well today, the Macdonalds near me is a seniors play area. Well almost a play area. So far the changes are subtle. The immovable seats are now moveable , perhaps to allow for the expanding girth of those children who graduated from the MacDonald’s menagerie. There is a fireplace and believe it or not comfortable leather chairs next to it_ and a coffee table, no less. The cost of the coffee is free that is if you deduct the dollar you pay for it from the cost of the newspaper you can read gratis. In fact you make money by going to MacDonalds. Pocket the savings from the daily paper and add it to your grandpa or ma piggy bank.
Go in at any time and in one corner there will be a group of men ,all over fifty, no, make that sixty ,discussing the latest political stand up routine. Look near the fireplace and see eight or ten women around a table for four. All of them are dressed in church clothes. They have just come from morning mass. Scattered around the room see a man here , a woman there, reading , eating or simply staring into space while sipping coffee. MacDonalds is a seniors ‘ lounge that makes allowance for the occasional child visitor.
I remember many years ago that I received a phone call which was the prelude to this transition. I was asked my thoughts on MacDonalds. My children were in their twenties then so I was well past the sit com of “Dining out at MaCDonalds”.
The conversation went something like this.
Pleasant guy next door voice: Hello, I am calling on behalf of MacDonalds. Would you mind participating in a brief survey ?
Fifty year old mother of adults : No, not at all.
How often do you go to MacDonalds ?
Have you ever been to MacDonalds?
( you kidding? Ronald was my personal chef for twelve years) Yes, many times.
Is there a reason you no longer go there?
( Well, actually the sign brings back nightmarish memories of children gone wild) Not really, just that I went so often I got tired of it.
I understand . Would you go back again, you think?
( Not on your life!) I really don’t think so.
What would it take for you to consider returning?
( Free coffee , free food) Hmm , my, that’s a hard one. I can’t think of anything at the moment. Free coffee, maybeeeee?
Are there any other changes you can think of?
( Oh yes! Raze the whole works. Right to the ground and six feet under.) No not at the moment.
Well ,Ms Laurentius, thank you so much for your participation. Have a good day.
You too. Good bye.
I remember hanging up the phone and wondering what that was all about. Must be a shortage of children . Had people stopped reproducing I know my own two offspring were adamant that they were having none. Our world was in jeopardy. Well not the world. After all the earth would probably go on forever if we weren’t a part of it. Obviously MacDonalds was realizing that there were many hours in the day when children were not available for fattening up. School interfered with that. So the seniors , with all their leisure time , were ripe ( very ripe, I must add) for the picking.
And would you believe it! After that phone call MacDonalds started giving free coffee ___at least once a year! Could it be they actually listened to me? They say it takes only one person to make a big difference. One day it will be acknowledged that the transformation of MacDonalds’ restaurants was due to the suggestions of a Newfie housewife who had the courage to suggest free coffee.