(Note: Please force your browser to refresh this page to get the new banner, if you don’t see it. I caught that guy on film back in the mid-1980’s from a canoe on the Little Red River. My dad was paddling upstream like a madman to give me a chance for a shot.)
I sit in my car in a McDonald’s parking lot as I type this. A Chevron convenience store sits slightly ahead of me to my right, its fenced-in Dumpster straight ahead. A crow stands atop the wooden fence, pacing back and forth three steps at a time, hoping to find a morsel amongst the detritus. He caws, but it sounds nothing like “Nevermore.”
My car windows down a few inches, the shifting breeze brings in scents alternating between burgers and gasoline. Fine mist from the Chevron’s drive-thru car wash floats in and lands on my right arm. The sounds of vehicles zinging past on the Interstate, at inhuman speeds, fill my right ear. My left ear hears the tinny, electronic voice of a McDonald’s employee repeatedly saying, “Hello, can you hear me?” They’ve done some remodeling and currently have two ordering speakers, confusing everyone.
I’m accessing the Internet by intercepting a signal spewed forth from a wireless router somewhere inside the restaurant. AT&T and McDonald’s — two mega-corporations working together to make this the ultimate consumption station.
My darker side flips the restaurant manager an imaginary bird as I eat the food I brought from home. I pay $1.99/month for this wifi, and if I have to occupy one of your parking spots to use it, then I will. I take a bite of my Gala apple, only to realize just how inferior the variety is to Pink Lady. One thing I’ll concede to McDonald’s — their apple pie tastes good every time (although not as good as when they were fried and had to cool for 30 minutes prior to eating).
The processional of drive-thru diners inches forward behind me, anticipating that first bite of a Quarter Pounder, a Big Mac, or some other Godforsaken delectable.
A Comerica Bank lies in front of me, to my left. What the hell is a “Comerica?” Some bastardization of the word “America,” the implication being that we should trust anything that ends in “merica.”
Souper!Salad! lies behind and to the left. The name is half funny, part lame.
Also in view are The Home Depot, a Mobil station with a Golden Chick restaurant inside, Target, Re/Max Realty, and a Tom Thumb grocery store. Oh, wait, there’s a Chili’s restaurant.
The funny thing is, everything I’ve typed above still gives the reader no clue as to my location. I am in Anywhere, USA (above a certain population), a town anyone living in or visiting this country has seen. When we’re not storing our money at the bank, we’re spending it at the places surrounding me. We consume. We drive. We want it all now, now, now.
Were someone to put me asleep and transport me to another town, I could see exactly the same things. It’s what makes America great and depressing in the same breath.