Fast-Food Hero

Art by Bob AulAs a fast-food aficionado, I'm accustomed to feeling like a piece of raw material being run through the highly industrialized fast-food system. So, please, imagine with me if you will, my pleasure—my absolute delight—in running into you behind the counter at my local Carl's Jr. I'll keep your name and location secret because my guess is that your bosses would drop you faster than one of their own burgers if they knew the truth about you: that you're kind and (can one say this of a waiter in a fast-food joint?) even loving, generous with your time and attention. Your colleagues seem to have had humanity trained out of them; I'm supposing that your Taylorizing managers have determined that treating customers as people isn't cost efficient. But not you. You brought me my order, placed it before me gently, even arranged it just so. You asked me—with a smile—if I needed anything else. I didn't know what to say, but you seemed—I don't know—pleased to bring me extra ketchup. And it wasn't just me. Have you noticed your effect on others? I did: customers reacted as if they were in the presence of a miracle, a man who says please, thanks and may I help you? You are a working-class hero, a working man who treats the rest of us like we're people. But perhaps your bosses have already caught on: in my last few visits, you've been notable for your absence. Please, tell me the revolution isn't over.

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