The construction of a new McDonald’s near where I live began with the destruction of the old McDonald’s. The reasons are not clear. It may have been an odd tactic in rebuilding sales, or because the employees were tired of sharing a locker with Ronald McDonald, or perhaps because the burgers, like the Clippers, needed a new building. Any of these could have been the reason when a few months ago they powered down the fryer, smashed all the ketchup packets, overturned the stools, and pushed in every button on the plastic lids. McDonald’s was closed.
This was not a renovation but a complete rebirth. The ground was flattened, and save for a few stray Big Mac cartons any sign a burger was served there was gone. Construction then initiated unlike any other building process I had ever seen. There were no trucks, no piles of lumber, and not a single hard hat. On the first day the construction workers merely gathered in a circle of chairs to discuss the place of McDonald’s in the 21st century. Questions that were addressed included “Why build a McDonald’s?” and “What do the arches mean?” and “How will this affect the community?” One worker spoke of his time in the Korean War, and ended his monologue dramatically by stating, “I just hope people know why we were here.”
The next day the outline of the entire restaurant was drawn in chalk, and workers pantomimed handing burgers over the counter, bussing their trays, and playing in the ball pit. One man, pretending to be in a car (“What kind of car am I driving?”), strode up to the drive-thru window where another simulated the act of giving change. It was like Dogville with burgers. While construction workers pretended to cook fries and use the soda fountain, a studious bespectacled man took measurements, drawing markings in the dirt, and occasionally tapping a worker when he had been eliminated. Continue reading