Death by McNuggets?
As they scrolled along the bottom of my TV screen the other morning, the following words caught my eye: Burger King employee accused of slashing throat of customer who complained about a food order. This was 2 days after a McDonald's employee had stabbed a female co-worker in the neck with a pen knife in Waterbury, CT.
Suddenly, fast food has become fast death --- and it's not the first time. In 2002, a McDonald's employee in Alabama was accused of leaning over the counter and stabbing an upset customer in the forehead repeatedly with a ballpoint pen. That may only have been a Bic, but now suddenly it's knives. What are fast-food employees doing with items sharp enough to stab customers anyway?
Having recently begun working in New York City again at age 28, this has now become one of my fears. On a marketing assistant's salary, it's hard not to indulge in the Super Value Meal at Mickey D's. Every time I grab a fast-food lunch with my co-worker Dina, I'm especially nervous. She's a Bohemian-type in her late 30s, and though she's very friendly, she's also very extremely opinionated. I cringe whenever she complains. Noting the server's body language out of the corner of my eye, I slowly back away. I avoid eye contact. I look at the floor. Sometimes I try to pretend that I don't even know Dina. I'm not confrontational.
Yet I won't be surprised if the inevitable occurs: SLAM! --- Dian's head will be crushed by the oven door at Quizno's, or the soup she said wasn't warm enough will be handed to her scalding and with a loose lid. I normally sympathize with the clerks behind the counter who are shaking their heads, grunting beneath their breaths with clenched fists. As soon as Dina changes her order 5 more times and walks away, I play the role of therapist. "Don't worry about it, man --- she's crazy. No, I didn't hear her say she wanted it heated either. Yeah, and you had to wrap it all over again, like you've nothing better to do." And I smile. I know these folks need some kind of outlet; they're not the ones paying $200 per session for counseling. Working for minimum wage with no tips is enough to frustrate anyone, so since I understand, please don't spit in my sandwich.
Once upon a time, it was the crazed postman I feared. Now, it's the Burger King worker. Who's next, the deli guy at D'Agostino's? Will the stock boys start beaning me with cans if I complain that I can't reach the Frosted Flakes on the top shelf? Well, I've decided not to take any chances. Like some man who refuses to ask for directions, I will never ask why I was given an Italian sub when I asked for oven roasted turkey. As long as it's edible, I will eat it. And so I beg my fellow consumers to join me in not speaking up. Stuff up the suggestion box, slip the manager a note, try Morse code --- just keep it mum. This has been a public service announcement from one hungry New Yorker to another.
Rainbow, my dear, at the risk of sounding overly alarmist, I should like to remind you that, this being a post-9/11 Multiverse, ours is a society that for various reasons can no longer afford the comfort of silence unless it is rendered absolutely necessary. Your fear that someone will leap over the counter at McDonald's and want to murder the complainer is bizarre at best, and incredibly odd for the most part. I believe that most American-based businesses make it a practice for all first-time employees to familiarize themselves with a Company Code of Conduct, whose rules for the most part are strictly enforced, if they are not at some point.
In other words, Milady Rainbow, one bad apple does not necessarily represent the entire bunch. If your fears of murder at McDonald's continue to persist, I can do little else save advise you to seek professional help. Either that, or post your concerns to www.DrPhil.com.