Thank God It’s Back!

In late February my housemates and I were returning from somewhere when all gasped. “Oh my God it’s gone!” The existing McDonald’s franchise had been removed. Gone. As if an alien force had zapped it into electrons. I chatted up a manager at another McDonald’s store to find that the South Madison Street Store was being rebuilt and remodeled and it would be back in mid-May.

Reconstruction seemed ruthlessly efficient. Every time I turned around they were making major progress, rebuilding from the ground up. They opened this morning at 12:01 am. We pondered actually walking down there, but by that time I was dead to the world and so was everyone else.

I wouldn’t be too snobby if I were you. This is a low income neighborhood, and I’d much rather spend money on a salad at Mickey D’s than the alleged brown salad sold at the Kmart. McDonalds might have the only vegetables for miles when Kmart leaves in about a year.

The interior is the sophisticated dark super graphics the chains has been favoring of recent. The footprint of the store seems to be slightly different, a bit wider and longer. The kitchen is much larger, the McCafe hidden behind a wall to quiet the riot. (One of the reasons why I can’t stand Starbucks is the noise of all those expensive coffee making machines. McDonald’s is often worse.) The overall flow was good.

The usual suspects were there, the unemployed (moi), the elderly, blue-collar guys at lunch, kids having French-fry tantrums, coffee drinkers staring out at the traffic. I had my usual – a large drink, two McChicken sandwiches, a side salad with ranch. I treated myself with cookies.

For many people the local McDonald’s is a place to hook onto the Internet, since they offer free WIFI access. I’ve used it before, marching down Madison in the morning cold with my laptop to my office. You see people studying, or poring over reports for work, catching up on email. This McDonald’s is not just a place to eat, it’s an extension of living rooms and our lives.

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What Is Really Going on Here?

The title is a legit question. On the surface there is a day-to-day struggle but when I take a step back and wonder what is really going on? I don’t think it has anything to do with looking to others for income and work, but looking within for the work that needs to be done there.

I think what is going on can be classified as an initiation. What’s going on is about going down, surrendering and not taking the world personally. It’s more about my reaction to what is happening and not the events themselves.

There is a great deal of pressure out there to not talk about what’s going on. There is a great deal of pressure – in the form of shame – to keep up appearances and not talk about the events of my life.

The thing is that I have needs that need to be, and in some fashion, must be met. There is absolutely no shame is asking for help to meet those needs. I am looking to the generosity of people around me. Generosity is about the good feeling giving gives us. When the good feeling stops, the giving should stop.

I’m not asking for anything beyond that good feeling. My conclusion is that I am in a community of need, of wounded souls that needs to ask more of each other. What can I do for you?

My feeling is that this initiation is partially about connecting and asking for help when I need it.