So, Im standing
there, Im repeating this sh*t- Hi, may I take your order please
and I realised that I wasnt even
aware of what I was doing. For the first time I became aware that Id spent so long in the fast food industry, as a
pizza chef, at KFC, Burger King, that Id internalised a complete way of behaving, that there was a section of my
personality that was defined by these men that get rich out of other peoples misery. These men that own businesses
and get poor kids to cook food and clean sh*t and would insist they got fu***ed up the anus if there was enough
money in it, these men had actually changed me, I was... I can only describe it as robotic, because I was standing
there just repeating this mindless crap to some customer that cant even imagine that people like me could have a
name... and it was just, horrific, Id been penetrated by the productive process. And I just stopped dead and this
large customer stood there with a few grubby dollars clutched in his podgy hands and he stared at me, like to say
what the f**ks wrong with you bi**h, he stared at my frozen expression like he wasnt aware I could see him. He
stared the same way that men stare at your cleavage, the way they think you cant see their face just because theyre
staring at your breasts. And a shake he said very deliberately and I looked at him hard and I saw he was
perspiring, like this was painful for him too and I looked at the clock and somehow it was blurred, like it might be if
the hands were whirring round and round. And I was just suddenly struck by the horror of this, by the tragedy of it.
We were all there suffering to different degrees and why? It was desperate, Id been doing this sh*t for years and it
was like Id just had enough or my dignity had caught up with me, or something, and I just stood there. And the guy
spoke in a much softer tone, almost friendly, really quiet like he was whispering, desperate for me to share a secret
but afraid of asking too loudly, he just said are you Okay? and he said it in a sweet southern droll and his voice
kind of cracked. I wanted to hug him. So, I said, no, but dont worry Im going to be fine. And I put his food
down and turned away and I ran through the kitchen past bun stacks and fryers and glaring adverts, and I started
running because I could feel the tears coming and my eyes must have been red because everyone stared at me like
people do when you cry and theyre awkward and dont know what to do or where to look. And I ran faster and the
tears exploded, Id forgotten how to cry like this, they just gushed and they were running down my face. I tried to
wipe them away at first then I just ran and felt them on my cheeks and dripping. It was the most incredibly powerful
I locked myself in the
girls toilet and I sat down on the loo and I realised that Id pulled my
skirt up and my knickers
down as though I was really going to use the toilet and I realised Id just done it to make it look right, so I had a
legitimate excuse to be away from my till. And that really scared me because they cant see you when youre locked
in a cubicle but they dont need to, theyre inside you. And thats horrific. You end up internalising their strategies
of control to such an extent that you almost feel naughty if youre in the toilet and not unrinating.
By this time Id
stopped crying. I was consumed with rage, a powerful surging tsunami of anger.
And I swore to
myself right there and then that from that second onward I would live with out dead time, I would savour every
second of my life, I would laugh, and love and live, and live, and live every minute with an intensity and a passion
that most people rarely find in all their lives. I was going to want to never sleep, I was going to wish the days would
never end. For a brief second I envisaged a future so beautiful I cannot describe it in words. But a dream, no matter
how impassioned, is only transient...
There was a sharp, angry
rap on the door. What you f***ing doin?. I was silent, dead silent.
The rap came again,
angrier, louder, like he was trying to come through the door. So, silently, I slid my pants up adjusted my skirt, wiped
my eyes and just sat there. Come on, f**k! Whats wrong? Come on? Have you seen the queue?. And I just sat
there breathing really deeply, slowly, trying not to breathe too loudly. You alive in there? And I thought, oh if you
knew how alive, if you could experience what it means to live, even if it was only in a dream, it would change you
forever. And I pitied him, obsessed with his greasy stinking food, his grubby counter, he stank of fast food, and
greed and misery and oppression and exploitation. Poor, pathetic, wretched creature. He revolted me. And I heard
someone else with the manager- whats up?
B**ch gone and locked herself in the toilet. And I flung the door open and I cant explain why but I grabbed this
bit of a mop, like a handle, and I grabbed that ba***rd and I flung him up against the wall and I put the mop handle
up against his face and screamed at him in rage fu**ing c**t F U **E R !.
He just trembled, his
lip wibbling pathetically and the other guy, Derek, he just gawked in shock.
And Im standing
there with this guy by the throat and for some reason I thought of the large customer Id been serving and I wondered
if he was still standing there, you know? Still gawking, waiting for his fucking vanilla shake, or whatever it was.
And it was absurd and I laughed out loud, totally inappropriately. And I laughed at the manager, he was just
pathetic, he was dead. I could have beaten him to death with the mop handle and I honestly dont think he would
have lost anything. I dont believe you can kill people who have never really lived.
But anyway, I just threw
the mop handle down, grabbed my coat and walked out of there, swaggered out
smiling inside and out like Id forgotten how to. I didnt glance back at the place. And outside I remember it was
this wonderful sunny day, it probably wasnt warm, but in the sun it was like the middle of summer. And I bathed in
it, I felt like I was emerging from a dungeon, like I hadnt seen the light in years.
Three days later I was
sat in a disciplinary hearing saying how sorry I was, losing my dignity and
grovelling for that
miserable job back. Its like I said- a dream, no matter how impassioned is only transient, and when I thought about
having to move out of my house, I didnt know where Id go and the credit card bill came and I couldnt afford to
pay it as it was and... well this is what this system does to us. Any one who says we choose to do a job, well, they
are either the most ignorant people on earth, or theyve got rich daddies, or more likely, both. They asked me what
were you so upset about anyway? The idiocy, the pointlessness, the boredom, wasting my life, living to make them
rich, selling myself, feeling violated, crying, hurting, knowing there must be something better, praying the bad days
will end. I think it was just cause of the time of the month, you know. They all looked at their feet but I caught the
suppressed perverted smirks. The manager had just reported that Id swore at him and walked off my shift because
hed been too macho to admit Id had him up against the wall in fear of his life. And I wore a little skirt and stuck
my bum and breasts out and batted my lashes. I might as well have offered to f**k them, and why not, I sold myself
every day I worked in that place.
Thats what this system does to us, it strips us of our humanity, living like that, its undignified.
I got out of there eventually,
moved to another unbearable job, then out completely when I had a gorgeous baby
Im with him full time now. Its harder work but its something you do for love, because you want to. But Im even
poorer now, I was wrong when I said I was completely out. Ill never escape the system, none of us will... we have
to destroy it. I havent forgotten that dream.
Copyright, Lisa 2002, Dedicated to McDonalds Workers Resistance and all who fight for freedom