I love discovering new interoperative cultural memes, and I happened upon one over the weekend at the local McDonald’s. I’m not a big fan of McDonald’s, but they do try to offer some healthy food, and I appreciate they set a major agenda when it comes to creating an entire landscape of community dietary choices. There is grand power in creating caloric counts. Oftentimes, the only affordable meal in an urban neighborhood is found under the Golden Arches — and that creates a static economy and a trapped customer base. We’ll discuss more about that dangerous, if unassailable, economic power tomorrow.
I visit our local McDonald’s almost daily because of their amazing, and unforgiving, dollar coffee special: They keep pulling me back in! Any size coffee is only a dollar! Yes, I’ll take a large, please, and make it two!
I have ritualized my order so much that I often don’t have to even say anything when I step up to the counter. If the cashier knows me, and my morning routine, I get a “look” and I “nod” and the two coffee order is put into the computer and I slide-to-pay and then shift to my right and pick up my order. Not a word is spoken. Only looks are exchanged. Its all a perfectly sync’d material meme.
The other day, a McDonald’s manager was working the cashier terminal. I’ve seen her working there many times, but she’s usually busy in the back. She prefers to speak Spanish.
When it was my turn to order, I was ready to speak when the manager held up her hand and spoke to me in English, “You’re part of the house.”
I stopped a moment, not quite understanding her in context, but before I could ask her what she meant, I looked down and saw she was already punching in my two coffee order into the terminal even though she’d never waited on me before.
“Part of the house,” she repeated, and smiled back. She arced her arm to move me along the line after I slid my credit card to pay.
“Thank you,” I said as I obliged right. I picked up my hot coffee order — sealed with the satisfaction that I fit in my neighborhood and that I finally found belonging as part of the house.