All American

Have you ever driven past those golden arches with a child in the back of your car? An all American child with a football in her lap and headphones in her ears.

Her eyes light up like a “girls, girls, girls” sign. She’s just got to go in, more for the toy than the food.

If she’s your child, the answer is always “no”. You might throw out the classic “do you have McDonald’s money” just to make your own mother proud.

If you’re baby-sitting someone else’s child, the answer might be yes. Because after all, you’re an American. And what point do you have to prove to a kid that isn’t yours?

So you go in, you and the child, and the football and the headphones. You head to the counter but you see someone waving at you. She’s got on the red polo and the black visor, so you head over to her. As you get closer you realize she’s older than the long ponytail poking through the top of the visor had lead you to believe. She is not a teenager — hasn’t been one for ten or fifteen years, at least.

She points to a kiosk. A kiosk, you note, that won’t have to be paid $15 an hour when the minimum wage goes up. A kiosk, that doesn’t need to take breaks. A kiosk that would never call out sick.

You say, “I’ll just got to the register.”

But she insists. “They’ll send me home if I don’t look busy.”

She helps you punch in your order: one Happy Meal, one Egg McMuffin with coffee.

She shows you where to enter your cash. She shows you where to get your receipt. She shows you where to stand to wait for your order. And you think to yourself, “ she is nice. So nice. Not at all the type of person you would want to see lose her job to a machine.”