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.


Beautiful Day

Last night I was waiting for a friend to show up, sitting on the steps of the porch, the weather was so crisp and comparatively cool. The sky was a deep blue, picked with white clouds. Since mowing is an optional activity in the mind of my landlord, the front yard is a wild green jungle. There were all kinds of moving, alive things around me, from insects ( read: misquitos) to small grey-tiger ferral kittens, deeply curious about the big human in their midst.

Yesterday was a good day, a contrast to my life which seems in perpetual crisis. The garage sale people paid me a bit, though not enough to resolve my connectivity issues. I gave them two huge sacks filled with my next garage sale consignment. I found something I really needed on sale. I walked up to the McDonald’s on Madison to use their WiFi.  The phone still has some functions and apps that will still work with WiFi at this point. I got to briefly chat with my friend Chris, but he was on his way to work.

Yes, my life seems to be in crisis, but no one died. The crisis will be resolved, probably in a way I cannot see. I have a second interview on Tuesday for an out-of-state contract gig. There are lots of possibilities in the air.

Beautiful days, a little bit of cash, some resolution, seeing a friend and some serendipity help me balance and focus. It’s time to go back to Mickey Dees to use their WiFi.