ON August 6th, let’s all go to mcdonald’s and order a fortnite burger. the look on the employee’s faces will be awesome.
One month ago I woke up at about 7:30, and, like everyone else in the world, I immediately checked my Twitter feed during my morning shit. Buried inside of “The Algorithm” (which actually just the True Name of the Lord God that we journalists worship in a Lovecraftian cult.) I saw a pretty harmless meme.
Simple, right? Nice and self-explanatory, in a classic format. It was less than half a second later when I realized that today was, in fact, August 6th. I was up and dressed immediately. I knew what my goal was, what every moment in my life was for, that had lead me up to this moment. I tried to order a Fortnite Burger at McDonald’s, and this is my story.
Man, we’ve all been there. If you told me “Coach, I’ve never even considered acting out on a post-post ironic meme desire in public before!” I’d call you a goddamn liar and ask if you were the guy who traded his car for the Rick and Morty meme sauce. I have to admit, the Sauce Incident was burning again in my mind, like a repressed memory of trauma rearing it’s head in a particularly ugly therapy session. Would the look on the worker’s faces be awesome, or would it be the same look they gave to that guy who pulled his shirt over his head and screamed “REEE” and “I’m Pickle Rick!” “””””Ironically””””” in the check-out line?
I’m a pretty big fan of McDonald’s. I’d say on average I spend about 9 hours a week in or around my local Golden Arches, stuffing dollar McChickens into my mouth and POLITELY INQUIRING about the status of the McFlurry machine. In case you were wondering, the part that they ordered came in, the machine worked for all of five orders, and then a different part broke. They haven’t sold a single McFlurry since. You gotta think you’d be pretty damn lucky to be one of those five people who actually managed to get their hands on McDonald’s most sacred holy grail menu item. It’s like a Golden Ticket from Willy Wonka with a bunch of M&Ms mixed in that you eat with a really fucked up and stupid looking spoon. I digress.
I made my way into the McDonald’s, a crushed up 5 dollar bill in my sweaty hands as I stepped into the queue. I was starting to lose my nerves. Countless liveleak videos of McDonald’s brawls and Meme Sauce shenanigans played on loop in my head. Is a potential awesome look and epic meme really worth the risk of that embarrassment? I guess all publicity is good publicity. Would I rather die alone and unremembered or become immortalized in the theatre of the meme?
when I finally got to the front of the line, I couldn’t help but feel an immense wave of shame wash over me. There I was, face to face with someone who’s paid not nearly enough to deal with idiots like me, people who thought a Fortnite Burger would be funny while they were taking their morning shit, a fresh-faced college student in six figures of debt with a degree in liberal arts or something. He’ll never work a job he’s passionate about. If he’s LUCKY, he’ll be at this McDonald’s long enough to become a manager. There’s damn good money in that. We could all hope for that kind of job security. No matter how much the economy may or may not be in ruins, nor how hard you just say “pssh. I’m gonna get my game on, you know what I’m saying?” someone will always want a Big Mac combo meal. But today, I wanted a Fortnite burger.
I didn’t come all this way to quit. I swallowed hard, my own cold, dead gaze meeting the cold, dead gaze of the cashier. And I asked him if I could please have one Fortnite Burger. And I carefully gauged the look on his face.
Behind the customer service smile, behind the Big 10 college education, behind the man who had spent 39.5 hours a week (just enough to not be full time!) mopping up vomit in a plastic, disease infested prison for suburban kids who’s moms are too xan’d out to watch them, the guy who’s picked up trash and sorted it from the recycling, and the guy who’s probably seen an overdose or two in the bathrooms, the look on his face was actually pretty awesome.
He laughed and told me that he’d actually hoped someone would try to order a Fortnite Burger today. That he would welcome the break from the monotony. That he’s actually a pretty big fan of Fortnite (we would later exchange Gamertags, come in 3rd place in one Duos match, and never play together again). He informed me that unfortunately the Fortnite Burger promotion was only in like two locations in the entire state, but if I wanted a Fortnite McFlurry, he could put some wood shavings in there or something (you know, like they build stuff with in Fortnite). As mad as I was at this guy for insinuating the fucking McFlurry machine was working, I was really happy at how awesome the look on his face was.
The next day I saw that kid again. The one who so cheekily offered me a McFlurry. He was waiting to take the train, just like I was. He was going back to school. Grad school, no doubt. The best way to work your way out of your crippling debt is to either pray for a lawsuit or go become a doctor. His dad dropped him off and sped away. Guitar slung over his shoulder with a small duffel bag in hand, just standing there behind the blue line near the tracks. Warnings posted everywhere. Some real and some imagined. Stay behind the blue line. I know, I know, you are grown now. You’ve made your own decisions for years. I swear, it’s for your own safety. At least, the voice on the intercom says so. Who am I to not trust voices from faces you’ve never seen? I always thought the blue line was more for the conductor’s sake. If you jump, you jump and that’s it. There’s really no consequences for you. The guy behind the wheel is the one who has to live the rest of his life knowing he killed someone. Stay behind the goddamn blue line, kid. You’re coming awfully close.
The kid laughed nervously and wandered further down the platform. A woman on the lawn chain smoked and spoke loudly to no one in particular. She had nearly half a dozen plastic bags filled with trash. Tin cans and empty beers and crumpled up wrappers. Could’ve been recycling it all, if you ask me. No one asked me. I didn’t speak. Didn’t even bat an eye when the kid slipped off the platform onto the tracks. The people on the platform screamed and rushed down the line, waving hands and shouting gibberish that no one inside the train could hear. I could practically overlay the Fortnite Death scene over the situation in my head. No Victory Royale today. No Fortnite Burger. But maybe some loan forgiveness.
The real victory royale comes when the train conductor will be in his last therapy session a few years from now, smiling again, not blaming himself. We’ve had a real breakthrough today. Go out there and live your life. See you doc! Remember to take your meds – they’re part of why you’re feeling better. The man in the cheap suit and long scarf who waited for that train with us will go home and tell his spouse how tragic it was – how the poor boy jumped and he couldn’t pull him off the tracks in time. He’ll get a long hug and his favorite meal and spend the rest of the night watching sports and playing with his 8 year old daughter. He hopes she’ll grow up to be just like him. She hopes she’ll never grow up.
Remember when my work was funny? Me neither.