>>> Text-Heavy
By staff writer E.E. Southerby
Volume 34 – June 1, 2003

Now Playing: “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z

People ask me: How do you come up with ideas for a column, week after week? Well, one of the sweetest things about writing a column like this is that it requires, besides a severe lack of judgment, me to go out and experience things. It's easy to write about things that happen to me. It's not as easy to sit at a computer and make up juvenile jokes like some other internet shut-ins I could mention. Some people don't believe that everything I write about is real, which is probably fair since I'm a pathological liar by nature, believe me. Here's what (may have) happened:

-The other day I turned on the radio to my favorite station, KOOL FM, for my daily Britney fix. Much to my chagrin and appall, I found that my favorite radio station had been dismantled and replaced with a much inferior radio station: BOB FM. BOB FM doesn't play Britney, it plays Hotel California THREE TIMES IN A ROW. I have no idea what happened, but my best guess is that sometime during the night a man (“Bob”) who REALLY liked shitty-ass synth tunes from the 80s (did somebody say “Barracuda”?) stormed into the KOOL FM building and seized the turntables, possibly following a violent struggle. Who is Bob? What does he want me to do so I can have my station back? It's been 3 days and I still don't have an answer. This shocking turn of events got me so depressed that I headed for McDonalds.

-Frequent readers of this column know that I am culinarily impaired, and therefore eat out a lot. It's pretty rare that I eat at McDonald's, though. It's hard for me to pinpoint the reason. Maybe it's because the food is expensive. Maybe it's because the food, even when it's spittle-free, is so toxic the employees actually receive WHMIS training. Take your pick.

-You know how the ads for the McDonald's sweepstakes always say “see in-store for details”? Well, don't bother. They don't have any details. Let's face it: If a highly-paid McDonald's advertising executive doesn't have the details, what are the chances of some pimply-faced Disheartened Hostile Smiling McDonald's employee who's working there so he can afford another dime bag having them? That's what's wrong with the world: Nobody has details.

-On this particular day, I elected to eat at McDonald's because I had been issued a coupon for one free Big Mac with the purchase of a drink. This, to me, seemed like a fair and sensible deal. I wasn't expecting a problem, until the Disheartened Hostile Smiling McDonald's Employee submitted this week's Quote of the Moment: “I've never seen this before. What is it?” Seems I found the one non-participating McDonald's Restaurant in North America.

-I've never worked for the Recently Evil McDonald's Corporation, so I can't say for certain what the cost to them would be of a free Big Mac with purchase of a regular-sized fountain soft drink, but if I were to harbor a guess I'd say the loss probably won't keep their children from going to college. But when I tried to explain this very sensible and not-at-all insane concept to the Disheartened Hostile Smiling McDonald's Employee, he blinked a few too many times and then said the only thing I can think of that could top his previous Quote: “I'll have to ask the manager.” Nothing is more humiliating than holding up the line while the McDonald's crack forensics team analyzes my coupon. I should probably also mention that this particular McDonald's restaurant had the radio tuned to the All-New BOB FM.

-After a few minutes, the manager, a 16-year-old boy I used to beat up in high school, came over to see me. He had clearly been hardened by years of people trying to pass off counterfeit coupons, and was hell-bent on keeping me from obtaining my Free Big Mac with Purchase of Regular Fountain Soft Drink. He accused me of causing a disturbance. I tried telling him that if I really had the motivation and cunning to make my own coupons, I would at least have the sense to make the drink free as well. Unfortunately, I was so worked up that the only sounds I could produce were a few yelping noises, followed by a shriek of defeat and the sound that coins make when you throw them as hard as you can in the direction of a Disheartened Hostile Smiling McDonald's Employee. I had essentially been blackmailed into purchasing a Big Mac.

-With the matter of the coupon peacefully resolved to its inevitable win-win conclusion, I proceeded to place my order. Here's a transcript: ME – “I'd like a Big Mac meal with an iced tea.” CASHIER (smiling) – “Is that for here or to go?” ME – “For here is fine.” CASHIER (smiling) – “Alright, what will you have?” ME (irritated) – “I told you. A Big Mac meal with an iced tea.” CASHIER (smiling) – “Would you like to Super-Size your combo for an extra 59 cents?” ME – “No thanks.” CASHIER (smiling) – “And was that for here or to go?” ME (agitated) – “For here! Goddamn you!” CASHIER (smiling) – “And what would you like to drink with that?” ME (smiling) – “The blood of your first-born, if it's fresh.” (the blood, not the kid)

-You may be wondering why I did not, as any other sensible God-fearing person would have done, flee the restaurant as quickly as I could. I guess I just wanted to see how the whole thing would play out. I was starting to think that the Disheartened Hostile Smiling McDonald's Employee and his prepubescent boss (AOL screenname ‘l33tpr0nseXy') were going to accuse me of kidnapping Mayor McCheese before the day was through. I don't even know what I would do with Mayor McCheese if I did somehow get him locked in my house, but I imagine it would have something to do with creating false coupons.

-I have to stop going to the movies. Every time I'm at the theater, I meet someone I haven't seen for years and don't want to talk to. So I always make a dive for the bathroom, but it never works, and then I end up in some horribly awkward conversation about why I hadn't spoken to them in so long. (“Hey, you! I remember you! Fuck you!”)

-And, finally, I went to the hardware store and wanted to pay for my purchase with a $100 bill. They told me they couldn't accept 100s because of the high counterfeiting rate. I told them that I knew that MY 100s were ok because I made them myself. They didn't laugh, and continued to refuse my money. So I gave them fake 20s instead. Hell, at least they didn't give me trouble about my coupons.