American Reality

I don't know why, but visiting fast food restaurants depresses the hell out of me. Especially at night.

Yank the door open, walk into the nearly vacant, dingy restaurant. The fluorescent lights flicker. Off in the corner there's that one random stoner kid twitching nervously as he peers up at you through his bloodshot eyes. You step up to the counter and are greeted with an "I hate my life" smile; followed
by a (I'm only getting paid $7/hour to stand here all day and unfreeze your excuse of a meal) "hello how are you tonight"? Immediately you feel the life being sucked out of you. Approximately 72 seconds later your food arrives. Far too quickly to be of any comfort. You look around briefly pondering where to sit, but it doesn't matter since you (maybe friends) and the stoner are the only ones there.

Then the music sinks in. Crappy pop music so awful that they won't even play it at Walmart. Slowly you unwrap your food. At this point you've nearly lost your appetite from the depression of the overall atmosphere. Take a few bites. Glance over at the stoner in the corner; he's now eating all 15 tacos, hamburgers, whatever that he ordered. Suddenly you become aware of the music again and get the urge to jump straight through the window. You fight the urge by taking another few bites. And repeat.

Halfway through your meal, as your arteries begin to slow, you put the food down and start to observe the employees. At this point you begin to envision yourself in their shoes.  Contemplating: "How much is my time really worth? We all know that life is finite. Can I afford to trade away hours of my life at the rate of seven dollars? or even fifty? A hundred? How much is an hour of my life really worth to me? Maybe I have many more to spend. Maybe not."

You begin to think about the American Dream; anyone can make it if they try right? Get the mansion on the hill, the indoor pool, the Escalade. But you can't chase away the fact that American Reality is screaming in your face. Corporatism, loneliness, processed food, obesity, dirt, grime, minimum wage: a slice of American Reality.

The sign on the door says open 24/7. As you push the doors open you think to yourself: "who the hell orders a hamburger at four in the morning anyways?"


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