Wednesday, April 02, 2008

You Don’t Have to Be Mexican to Love McDonald’s

Several months back we wrote of a bizarre television advertisement for McDonald’s that seemed to blatantly encourage emigration from Mexico to the United States---legal, we’re sure, although that was not stipulated---while playing upon currency fluctuations. The message, at least the way we interpreted it, was that the dollar was firm and strong against … the peso … so Mexicans with a yen for sunshine and $1 hamburguesas should hie themselves over to the U.S. for a taste, post haste. The $1 deal was solid, in perpetuity, immune to shifts in the value of the peso against the dollar.

We saw that ad only two or three times and suspect someone at McDonald’s belatedly snapped-to and had it pulled before the viral contagion of Internet outrage could spread. Now we see that McDonald’s is at it again with the currency exchange angle, although this time the intended audience is not hungry, border-jumping Mexicans but budget-conscious white-collar Americans looking to save a nickel or two in these times of high economic anxiety. If you’ve been watching the NCAAs you’ve probably seen it: Black guy comes up to co-workers in their cubicles and says “Dollar’s down again” and the co-workers second that observation with a round of “feeble … dropping like a lead balloon … tanking,” etc. Y’know, everyday water-cooler chat, like at your office (we’re pretty sure currency traders don’t talk this way). Then a skinny, big-eared white dude appears with a “double cheeseburger from the dollar menu” and the jealous co-workers (jealous, that is, of the grease he’s consuming) chime in with a reappraisal of the dollar’s worth: “The dollar’s lookin’ good … strong,” etc.

(Y’know, if you stop to really think about it---and we’re sure that you, like us, don’t have the time to stop and really think about it---these are some strange fucking days we’re passing through.)

We fully expect McDonald’s to go the celebrity route for a future commercial, with, perhaps, Alan Greenspan sitting knee-to-knee with Andrea Mitchell at a mid-Manhattan McDonald’s and saying something like, “The ceaseless volatility of global markets overstimulates my amygdala, but these hamburgers made from South American-raised beef have a placating effect on my irrationally exuberant nervous system. And if I haven’t previously mentioned it, they’re only one American dollar.”

It might work. We must confess that a McDonald’s promotion, and our desire to save a nickel or two, recently brought us to the door of our neighborhood Golden Arches for the first time in about 10 years, or since our children decided that their palettes were too refined for the Happy Meal (but mostly we steer clear of McDonald’s because one of our late-life goals is to live as long as possible so we can inflict as much pain as the law allows on our enemies, real and imagined). We had received a page of McD’s coupons in the mail---they were all in Spanish, natch---including a freebie offer for one of the new coffee drinks that are supposedly going to bring Starbucks down. Since we were headed down to the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, we figured we’d stop at the McDonald’s along the way and submit the coupon for a free $1.67 iced coffee and get our self amped for some Sunday afternoon shopping (as a sap who bought into Starbucks thinking there was no way it could fall below some mystical “$20 floor,” we considered the visit to McDonald’s part of our deep research).

The first thing we noticed when we walked into the joint was that everybody behind the counter was jabbering away en espanol, not something we remembered from a decade ago. There were no other customers but it seemed we stood there longer than we should have before a heavy-set young Hispanic woman with an unwelcoming face ambled up. She asked if she could help us, but no sooner had we opened our mouth to give our order than she turned to an underling, an African-American girl who appeared to be the only monolinguist on duty, to bark, “Were’s Tanisha?” Tanisha, it seemed, was on her break, but the managerial type directed the African-American girl to go fetch Tanisha from the parking lot. We had just launched our second effort to place our order when Tanisha, also African American, came in the door and the hard-faced managerial type saw fit to redirect her attention to Tanisha.
“Where you been?” (Suspiciously)

“You said I could have a break,” said Tanisha (Innocently)

“I said you could have a break, I didn’t say you could be out in the parking lot conversatin’.” (Bitterly. Meanly.)
Finally, the woman directed her self back to us. We stared hard at her for a good 5 or so seconds, to ensure we finally had the floor, before placing our order and handing over the coupon, which of course she had to scrutinize like it was printed in Chinese. Then she moseyed back to the dispending machine---apparently this wasn’t going to be “real” brewed coffee---and Lord if its operation didn’t present yet another obstacle to timely service. The gal consulted with a couple of co-workers who seemed to have a better grasp of how to get the thing to squirt, and soon we had our coffee. Or “coffee.” Whatever it was, it was truly some of the foulest shit we’ve ever swallowed. It was like some kind of “coffee syrup” with what tasted like 50 or 60 grams of sugar. We poured most of it in the parking lot.

Just the other day we heard an old guy at our Y (an old guy who seems to take care of most of his personal hygiene needs---shaving, showering, toenail-clipping---in the locker room) rhapsodizing about the “coffee from McDonald’s---it’s only a dollar sixty-seven!” But us, we’re going long on Starbucks (and the dollar).

1 comment:

K said...

I haven't yet been able to bring myself to try McDonald's coffee -- despite my friends and coworkers, like your old guy at the Y, who make the dubious claim that it's second-only-to-Ambrosia -- and after your story, I think I've made the right decision so far.