Highway 12, Beaverton
Dear Sir or Madam,
You don’t know me.
And judging by your treatment of me last night, you’re probably not interested in what I have to say.
But I’m going to tell my story anyway.
I was in your restaurant last night with a handful of other shell-shocked drivers, stranded by some of the most deadly road conditions imaginable.
Snow and blowing snow had reduced visibility to zero for miles in every direction. A local strike by municipal workers meant the relentless stretches of highway that we drove inch by painstaking inch to reach you had not been properly cleared in days. The ditches were littered with dozens of cars whose drivers faced waits of several hours for assistance in -30 C temperatures.
It was shortly after 11 p.m. when a fellow refuge opened a locked door and the bitter wind pushed me and my two-year-old son inside your restaurant. I’m not a nervous driver but I cannot remember being so close to a full-blown panic attack. Thank God for the people who helped to calm me and busied my son with stray french fries and smiles.
Too bad the warm and fuzzy feeling didn’t last.
The restaurant has been closed since 11 p.m., one of your minions announced. I need you all to vacate the premises immediately.
We all tittered nervously. She was kidding right?
My manger is on the phone, she continued. If you don’t leave I’ve been instructed that I have to follow policy and call the police.
We burst into laughter, of course: the kind of demented, uproarious laughter that only patent absurdity can generate.
But her proclamation wasn’t really funny at all.
It was, I think, disturbing.
It was disturbing because it illustrated the utter lack of judgment we have come to expect of low level managers working for big companies like McDonald’s.
It was disturbing because it threw into stark relief the difference between the image your company spends millions to promote and the asinine adherence to policy your company apparently insists its workers enforce.
It is disturbing because executive trainers somewhere continue to convince people that minimum wage is incentive enough to sacrifice compassion and common sense on the altar of rigid corporate dogma.
You might think I’m being melodramatic and maybe I am. But let me tell you what you should have instructed your minion to do.
You should have offered to pay her double time to stay an extra couple of hours. You should have told her to put a few pots of coffee on and offer them free of charge. You should have sucked up the $40 or $50 this would have cost and acted like it was your pleasure.
Because it should have been.
Even if you don’t know me.
Don Mills Diva
PS. I stayed put until I was damn good and ready to leave. And also, I let my two year old have a field day with all the napkins and condiments he could get his grubby, little hands on.
Monday, February 11, 2008