Tag Archives: McDonald’s

#MeThree

I remember it well. I was working as a grill cook at McDonald’s in the mid-’80s when the incident occurred. I was innocently flipping some burgers when a co-worker left her assigned cash register up front and appeared directly beside me for a quick swig of pop (what Iowans call their┬ásoda). This was a very common practice in our industry because an employee eating or drinking in front of customers was considered non-professional and even a bit rude. The female colleague knelt down, took a sip, and asked “if there was anything she could do for me.” I glanced down at the considerate co-worker while thanking her for her thoughtfulness, but I declined the offer. (I prefer doing things my own way.) My colleague then gazed squarely at my crotch and in a seductive manner repeated, “anything?”

At that point I fully understood the situation was not simply about filling the ketchup dispenser or fetching some cheese out of the walk-in cooler. Once more I declined. I had no interest in the girl beneath me, and she was well aware I had a girlfriend (another co-worker who eventually became my lovely wife). That was that. I’m not sure if I was a victim of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, harmless flirtation, crude humor, or something else that day. At the time I didn’t think much about the unwarranted and unprovoked advance. Looking back, I still don’t. However, I think my experience decades ago surely meets the criteria for joining the #MeToo club.

All kidding aside, I think the #MeToo movement is a joke. I truly am not making light of the seriousness of those who’ve been raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed. The #MeToo campaign itself though is guilty of just that by unwittingly lumping together the unsubstantiated, weak, and even false claims of abuse with the admitted and proven cases of sexual abuse. There are currently millions of members who’ve joined the club; however, I would suggest that legitimate claims of abuse make up only a small percentage of the colossal total. As a society we must be careful not to instantly jump on the bandwagon or play judge and jury.

When an allegation is made publicly it’s impossible for the accused (guilty or not) to escape a life long sentence of being stigmatized. A wise man once said, “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” Actually, that quote did not come from the wisest of men – it came from President Trump – and it, of course, came by way of a tweet – but the content was spot on just the same.

Recently, for every valid claim of sexual misconduct there seems to be just as many lacking in credibility which inevitably tarnishes the entire #MeToo campaign. For example, a Los Angeles filmmaker has just gone on record accusing her former photography professor of sexually abusing her in 1999. She claims she was in his classroom, sitting at a desk, when the renowned teacher asked for her attention. The naked professor then walked directly towards her and placed his erect manhood in her mouth. She said the encounter was very brief before she ultimately pushed him away and left the room. The filmmaker said, “He committed oral rape against me.” Oddly enough, the woman admitted to keeping in touch with her former teacher via e-mail even after graduation. She continued requesting recommendations and asking for advice several years after the incident. That seems more like a #Regret moment to me. Likewise, last month a fairly famous actor was publicly accused online of sexual abuse because he didn’t turn out to be what his date had anticipated leading up to their one night together. The woman deeply regretted the experience since she was left with only negative feelings toward the celebrity after their consensual tryst.

Also muddying the waters a tad, as far as I’m concerned, is a recent decision made by a 2016 Olympic gold medalist. We know for certain she, along with countless other gymnasts, was sexually molested by the U.S. team doctor. The Olympian is now on a crusade to spread a message of empowerment to children who’ve possibly been sexually victimized themselves. She recently said, “I do a lot of school visits. I’m trying to communicate to these kids that they have a voice, and if something doesn’t feel right, they should speak up and ask questions.” The decorated gymnast went on to say, “I feel like I have a voice, and I feel like I have a responsibility.” That is all well and good, but also during this time the crusader chose to model for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue – even posing “tastefully” nude for assumingly a predominantly male viewership. I think the gold medalist gave a losing performance with her recent decision to pose especially considering her desire to be a role model for children. What I glean from the confusing message coming from the Olympian is that being victimized is not okay, but being objectified is fine.

These certainly are confusing times, so I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised to find the subject of sex to be perplexing as well. David Brooks, writer and political commentator, proffered his thoughts on that very topic just last month (1/19/18) in The New York Times. He penned, “Over the past 100 years or so, advanced thinkers across the West have worked to take the shame out of sex, surely a good thing. But they’ve also disenchanted it.” This is clearly evident today with the integration of “friends with benefits,” sexting, and the surge in lovers opting to live together without the commitment of marriage. Then there’s the millennial generation (and beyond) who’ve shockingly determined oral sex really isn’t sex, and they are content with engaging in sexual relationships before committing to a boyfriend/girlfriend status.

The prominent writer concluded his Op-Ed piece with a couple of keen observations and some pretty sound advice: “Sex is seen as a shallow physical and social thing, not a heart and soul altering thing. One unintended effect of this disenchantment is that it becomes easy to underestimate the risks inherent in any encounter. It seems that the smarter we get about technology, the dumber we get about relationships. We live in a society in which loneliness, depression and suicide are on the rise. We seem to be treating each other worse. The guiding moral principle here is not complicated: Try to treat other people as if they possessed precious hearts and infinite souls. Everything else will follow.”

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as well in regards to sex in America. Lately, I’ve been pondering why exactly millions of people would respond to the #MeToo campaign and why they’ve waited until now to come forward. I have concluded all men are pigs. I think a better answer though may be that we are in a season of angst, division, and rebellion. The time is ripe for protesting – regardless of a movement’s legitimacy. I think a great number of the #MeToo club’s members may just be longing for inclusion. Our human nature, at its core, is to belong.

God indeed created us with an inbred craving, but that hunger can only be satisfied by Him. From the time we are born, we errantly search for other things in trying to make us feel whole. I understand it can be extremely tempting to participate in something so big – so trendy – just to fit in. This may be the case for an Oscar winning actress who was recently quoted in People magazine (2/19/18) as saying, ‘I went from thinking, “I don’t have a story” to “Oh, wait, I have 100 stories.” I think a lot of people are having these reckonings with themselves.’ I’m sure most of us have stories of a sexual nature we could tell – whether good, bad, or indifferent – but that does not mean they are all #MeToo worthy.

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Did You Miss Me?

I’m back from my sabbatical. Did you miss me? Actually, I wasn’t even aware I had taken a sabbatical until it occurred to me that two weeks had come and gone, since posting my last blog, and I hadn’t written a darn thing in my notebook since. Well, at least nothing that exciting or what I would deem as sufficient enough to write home about. I decided I’d better look up the exact meaning of the word, sabbatical, because suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, I began questioning whether or not I truly knew what it meant. Therefore, I got to thinking it was quite possible that I hadn’t been on a sabbatical after all. I wanted to be sure I had been using the funny-sounding word properly.

Wikipedia defines sabbatical as, “a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from 2 months to a year.” In more recent times it has been described as, “any extended absence in the career of an individual in order to achieve something.” Wikipedia then cites writing a book as an example of fulfilling one’s goal. That does sound rather appealing to me, but it does not accurately describe what I had done with my time the past couple of weeks. In actuality, I studied the Bible, played a lot of tennis, entertained my lovely wife, and took some naps. I also spent a few days filling out those dreaded state and federal income tax returns.

Maybe I finally had succumbed to the infamous writer’s block I’ve heard so much about but had not yet experienced for myself. I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my entrance into unchartered waters, by becoming a blogger, and my wife renewed my blog site for another year. She originally set up my site in February 2014, as a birthday gift, because she knew I had an opinion about everything, and she also knew how much I enjoyed writing. I happen to be one of those people who still sends birthday greetings and letters via “snail mail” instead of by the more socially acceptable (yet less personable) way of e-mail. Someone has to keep the United States Postal Service in business.

Maybe the self-imposed pressure of consistently writing something worthwhile, for another 365 days, was contributing to my possible writer’s block condition. Maybe my creativity had run its course, or maybe I simply had grown tired of all the recycled “hot topics” in the news of late: the threat of war, denying gay people wedding cakes, “racist cops,” the threat of war, politicians’ incessant but futile rhetoric concerning dismantling President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act legislation, and did I mention the threat of war. Regardless, this past year I thoroughly enjoyed writing about the “good old days,” and whatever else was on my mind, so I have no intention of abandoning ship at this time. Besides, I don’t want to disappoint any of my seven readers.

However, I feared precisely that, off and on for a few days, whenever I’d stare at the blank page in my college-ruled notebook. I found myself searching for a topic to write about in some unconventional places. I even perused an AARP (American Association of Retired People) magazine in hopes of finding anything that might spark my interest. I’m a long ways away from turning 50 (316 days), but I’ve been receiving the bi-monthly publication in the mail for at least a year now. I reckon I shouldn’t be all that traumatized, by being perceived as an elderly gentleman before my time, since around a decade ago some punk kid behind the counter at McDonald’s asked me if I qualified for the restaurant’s senior citizen discount.

I’m pretty sure I responded with, “only if being 40 years-old makes me a senior citizen.” He gave me the discount. Ouch! I suppose I shouldn’t have been so upset with the young employee’s nonsense because I too was once ignorant regarding the concept of age when I was a youngster. I recall such ignorance when I was in my early twenties, and I came across the obituary section of the local newspaper. After noticing a person had died at the age of 52, I remember thinking to myself, “well, at least he had a good, long life.” I no longer find that sentiment to be true especially since I’m approaching the Big 5-0 myself.

Anyway, I typically begin my writing process after either recalling something from my past or hearing about something interesting, controversial, or appalling in the news. I’ll usually jot down a sentence or two in my notebook, rarely an entire paragraph, and once in a while I’ll just write down a possible title for my blog. More often than not the title changes before the process is completed. I’m constantly trying to find the perfect sentence, so the pages in my spiral notebook contain more arrows than Cupid’s quiver, and they have more scratch marks than the cars entered in a demolition derby. Highlighting, arranging, researching, rearranging, and then tweaking is all part of my writing process. All of this, of course, is done while sipping coffee at Starbucks.

Then comes the hardest part of all. This one-finger typist transfers all of his written words onto the computer screen for anyone to see. My wife has offered (many times) to type my blogs for me. I did take her up on her generous offer in the beginning, but after my first two posts I felt as though the finished product wasn’t completely mine. I guess I’m willing to sacrifice, the couple of hours I’d save, for the satisfaction of seeing the entire project through from start to finish. My blogs definitely are a labor of love. Hopefully, I’m finally over my writer’s block, if indeed that’s what it was, so you won’t have to miss me again.


My Valentine

I first laid eyes on my valentine (aka lovely wife) when she was a sophomore and I was a junior in high school. I saw her across a crowded room (actually, a gymnasium) while attending a girls’ Varsity basketball game. I just happened to notice her sitting in the upper balcony, amongst a few familiar faces also of the female persuasion, and I was instantly smitten with her. I could not take my eyes off of the “new girl,” and at that moment I became oblivious to anything that may or may not have been happening on the basketball court right in front of me. My future valentine was absolutely stunning from what I could surmise from that distance.

I could tell she possessed a nice figure, an alluring smile, and long, feathered auburn hair. When she initially stood up she appeared to be somewhat statuesque although upon further investigation I concluded her tall stature was at least partly due to the fashionable hiking boots she was wearing. She definitely seemed hip to the times: sporting a pink Izod shirt with a white sweatshirt draped over her shoulders and tied loosely around her tan neck. I wanted to meet her, but before I knew it the game was over, and the intoxicating young woman was gone. However, that did not stop me from thinking about her every now and then.

A couple of months later a good friend of mine, I had not been hanging out with for a while, invited me and a few others to play a game of basketball outdoors at the junior high school. When I arrived the “girl of my dreams” was leisurely playing a game of one on one, in a flirtatious manner, against my friend. I found out that day how she looked in a pair of shorts, and I certainly was impressed. It quickly occurred to me why I hadn’t seen my long lost friend for quite some time. I too had been guilty of dropping my buddies, like lead balloons, in pursuit of female companionship although I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth I missed that one. In any event, now being so close to this brown-eyed girl my suspicions were confirmed: She truly was ravishing. I did not see my future valentine very often, while she was dating my friend, except when occasionally bumping into her in the hallways of the high school.

I vividly remember her coming up to me at some point and running her fingers through my hair. I had just gotten a perm from my mother’s hairdresser, and I guess she wanted to acknowledge the fact that my hair was different. I was not an expert at being able to decipher a woman’s signals, at the tender age of seventeen (or any time since then for that matter), but I thought surely some physical contact from the opposite sex, regardless of how minor, was an encouraging sign. Therefore, when her boyfriend foolishly broke up with her, during the summer of 1983, I did not hesitate to move in for the kill. I did have other options, not to toot my own horn, because at least two other girls were chasing me at the time, but I was not about to let the opportunity for pursuing the “girl of my dreams” pass me by. Alright, I suppose I was tooting my own horn a bit.

In no time I was dating the brown-eyed beauty although it did not come without a few challenges. Two weeks into our relationship my valentine’s ex-boyfriend came to his senses and tried wooing her back. He sent her a fancy, heart-shaped record, of some mushy love song, which he had addressed to her from him on the record’s sleeve. My valentine must’ve already fallen hard and fast for me by that time (and why wouldn’t she have) because she voluntarily showed me the unique present she had received from her ex. She assured me she no longer had any interest in him, so I promptly returned the sweet gift, now broken into many tiny pieces, and I re-labeled the sleeve to him from me. I assume the message was received loud and clear since my valentine did not hear from him again. My girlfriend’s loyalty to me, after only a short amount of time, was extremely refreshing.

If truth be told, I probably fell much harder and faster for my valentine than she fell for me. Cupid’s aim was undeniably perfect. His arrow successfully pierced the bulls-eye on my chest, and I knew in my heart shortly after we met that there would be no turning back. I remember our first summer together when she had to go on a family vacation to Tennessee. I cannot recall if she left for a week, ten days, or two weeks, but it might as well have been a million years because it seemed like an eternity to me. In hindsight, it was either very romantic or quite sickening how miserable I was while she was away. My heart ached the entire time she was gone. I wrote my newfound love numerous letters to keep myself somewhat occupied during her absence, and I’m embarrassed to admit I got teary-eyed every time I heard a love song being played on the radio. To this day, I immediately think of my lovely wife, and the loneliness I felt being apart from her, whenever I hear the love ballads “Faithfully” by Journey and “Don’t Let It End” by Styx.

Our courtship was probably not what most people would refer to as exciting, but it did seem to fit our simple nature to a tee. When my valentine and I first began dating I was working very part time (5 hours a week) as a janitor at a small office building. Thank goodness she wasn’t the diva princess type or we would’ve been doomed from the start. My wages were just enough to cover the cost of our weekly date night out consisting of dinner at Giovanni’s Family Restaurant before catching a movie at the Capitol Theatre. Our regular waiter at Giovanni’s, J.R., knew our order by heart: a small taco pizza with a dish of sour cream, an order of french-fries with parmesan cheese sprinkled over the ketchup, and a pitcher of pop. Of course, we eventually replaced the pitcher of pop with a pitcher of Michelob Light once we both reached Iowa’s legal drinking age. It was nineteen back then.

After I hit the big-time, landing a job at McDonald’s, I was then able to treat my lady to a night on the town more often and provide her with the more finer things in life. That’s right. I could now afford concert tickets to the likes of Bon Jovi, Poison, and Motley Crue, and I could also buy my valentine better gifts throughout the year. We spent the remainder of our dating years renting VHS movies (Beta was for losers), picnicking at Mariposa Park (sunbathing included), and hanging out with the McDonald’s gang. However, most of our evenings were spent on my bed engaging in countless exhilarating games of rummy. No, rummy is not a euphemism for something else. In fact, the door to my bedroom was always to remain open, for my parents’ peace of mind, whenever my girlfriend came over.

My valentine and I were practically inseparable, spending every waking hour together, with only school and the occasional after school activities (E.g. baseball and pacesetters) keeping us apart from one another. We even worked side by side at McDonald’s for a time. Surely, we didn’t spend too much time in each others company. I would be amiss not mentioning that we did have numerous breakups along the way, but the majority of them only lasted a day or two. Ahh…young love. Jealousy, immaturity, and the lack of communication. I’m not positive where, or even how, a marriage proposal transpired, but it must have nonetheless. The peculiar thing about having the same valentine for so long is that the years and the memories tend to bleed together, and some of the details of momentous events seem to get lost along the way.

I do remember my mother suggesting I should either propose to the “girl of my dreams” or let her go so she could pursue other options. My mother thought dating someone for over three years was plenty of time to have already figured it out concerning the future. I don’t know whether I seriously pondered my mother’s words at that time or not, but we did get married the very next summer. Regardless of not knowing the specifics, leading up to our engagement, it doesn’t really matter now because as they say, “the rest is history.” Only by the grace of God, and my wife’s willingness to overlook my selfish ways during our courtship and early years of marriage, have we been able to endure for all these years. I’m simply one of those guys who was fortunate enough to “marry up.” I know I have truly been blessed beyond belief. This February 14th, will mark the 32nd consecutive time I’ve had the pleasure of having the same valentine on Valentine’s Day…if she’ll once again say yes.