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A curious invitation

Peter—master of the torpid Kitty Kong Country—and I were having a few beers at a joint called Bunker the other night. One of the decorations festooning the club's walls was a poster for what, in deference to certain mega-corporate sensitivities (and because it amuses me), I will refer to as "THAT MOVIE". The presence of the poster led to a conversation about the projected fate of that movie in this country. What was previously a largely assured obscurity when its initial puff ran out, had overnight transformed into near-legendary status after the massive, hilarious and very public overreaction of its subject. It's a discussion I've had with several people, and I enjoy it, because I get a chance to recite a particularly delicious irony that Robert discovered in McDonald's contra-Spurlockian marketing.

Anyway, in the course of that conversation, Peter mentioned that a manager at the McDonalds near our work had a very forthright manner of inviting customers to make their orders.

A little sceptical, I decided to investigate. Yesterday at lunch I wandered down to the restaurant and waited in line; staring intently, as you do, at the menu boards or the back of people's heads. There was a very crude line—really just a disorganized cloud of mercenary office-workers—and I believe I got queue-jumped more than once. Then there was something about someone being given insufficient change, which at that particular family restaurant corporation is inevitably a major calamity requiring three levels of management and at least one migratory set of keys in order to be resolved, for reasons I've never fully understood. I was vividly recalling my distaste for this company, for reasons that have little to do with health and much more to do with a uncomfortable lack of humanness, when my reverie was disrupted.

"Sex please!" A young woman, with three spots of grease on her shirt from a renegade fryer and a native tongue that was (for your information) unquestionably my own, glared at me impatiently. In retrospect I am still sure that my ear was not tricked, that in fact mine were the only ears not tricked, because Peter's drunken aside had planted just enough extra awareness in my head to not automatically translate her invitation into the much more innocuous "[who]'s next please!" She did not say that, I am quite certain. To the prepared mind, the n and the t were conspicuously absent.

Well who was I to

At the time, flummoxed, I forgot my order and stammered absently through the transaction, emerging eventually with some dubious grub and a sense that was neither amusement or bemusement, but something between. It's like, I guess if it gives you some relief from what must be a fairly soul-destroying job. But you know... You know? I don't know.

Anyway, that wasn't the strangest conversation I had yesterday. The strangest conversation I had yesterday was with a Frenchman on King St who was wholly ill-equipped to register the simple fact that there is nowhere in Melbourne where you can buy an individual cigarette. But I'm still processing that one; maybe another time.

Joseph | 3 Jul 2004

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