Monthly Archives: May 2016

Why People Hate McDonald’s

Would you work for a Fortune 500 company with the following profile:

* Has an African-American CEO
* Honored by Black Enterprise as one of the best companies for diversity at staff and corporate levels
* Provides all expense paid college credit eligible education at its business management school.
* Promotes from within and doesn’t discriminate against those without college degrees when hiring for executive level positions, including CEO.
* Invests in progressive businesses — ie. Chipotle — that raise the standard of fast-food and build green storefronts

Who that? You know the answer, title gives it away:  McDonald’s. If you feel thrown off, then we’re ready to begin.

Why People Hate McDonald’s

Top 5 reasons — qualitatively gathered — in no particular order:

1. They treat their employees like shit.
2. Their food tastes like shit.
3. They put shit in their food.
4. Their food makes people look like shit.
5. They use manipulative advertising to get kids addicted to eating shit.

All of which need to be translated, those are just codes meant to deflect attention. There’s something else going on here.  Not just projection, there’s sublimation, that “mature” defense mechanism, says Freud: when you replace urge to do something that *you* think is socially unacceptable with socially acceptable stand-in. Like Luke becoming an NFL linebacker so he doesn’t end up in jail for beating the shit out of that motherfucker.  Jenna marrying ultra-stylish Jack the hairdresser to keep Dad proud. Sam becoming a proctologist because he was raised Catholic strict.

Top 5 Reasons to Hate McDonald’s, Deconstructed and Debunked

They treat their employees like shit
Pay for non-managerial staff is comparable to what a typical hospital pays its resident MDs; similar to what the university pays its graduate student TAs and RAs ; almost as much as what a community college pays its adjunct professors to teach. (I could go on). Yet people aren’t boycotting their hospitals and schools due to employee pay and career growth opportunities.

In providing career growth opportunities, McDonald’s has most businesses — Alive Juice Bar included — beat: you can be of humble origins and degree-less and still become its CEO, as Charlie Bell (who started working at McDonald’s at 15) had.  Free education for its management trainees. One of few businesses willing to give those with no experience and skills (and the wrong color) a chance.

Their food tastes like shit.
It’s how you frame and present something.  Watch this prank: 

Summary for those who can’t watch it: pranksters pose as chefs of high end restaurant.  They serve samples of their food — McDonald’s fare, actually — at food expo.  Some who sample rave about taste and high quality of food:

The ‘Chicken McNuggets’ were neatly cut up and served by a charming young waiter, complete with tidy uniform. “Rolls around the tongue nicely, if it were wine I’d say it’s fine,” an older and presumably more experienced food critic commented.

“The structure is good, yes. Not too sticky,” said one expert about a McMuffin. Then it was onto the ‘real classics’.

“You can just tell this is a lot more pure,” came another comment from a young lady operating an organic stall.

It’s like those studies that show a painting of, say, a boy pissing on a tree. Take that painting, make two of them, date one at 1500, another at present day and attribute it to someone who doesn’t look like a painter. Most will describe the first as some Renaissance classic.  The latter as ghetto trash.  Which is it?

baroque shit

Renaissance era painting or two boys tugging on each others’ penis. A classic or kiddie porn?

Point is, we’re tools.  We’re not trained to think or to ask questions, we’re trained to respond on cue, like caged rats in an experiment:


Even though organic has nothing to do with freshness, gluten-free isn’t healthier if you’re not celiac, and grass-fed isn’t necessarily tastier, you get the idea.  Our brains exaggerate and mix and match correlations.

They put shit in their food.
A few examples: 
Earthworms (1978)
Mutant Lab Meat (2000)
Cow Eyeballs (2006)
Random Rot Preventing Chemicals (200?)

Blood libel, definition (Wiki): “accusation that Jews kidnapped and murdered children of Christians to use their blood as part of their religious rituals during Jewish holidays.”  The world may change, but human nature remains the same: we’re still mean-spirited and vindictive. About what, we’ll get to later.

Who is more dangerous, the person who created this hoax, or those who believe it?

Who is more dangerous, the person who created this hoax, or those who believe it?

Their food makes people look like shit.
You can do a lot worse at a neighborhood Greek diner or Chinese take-out or Tacqueria, where portion sizes and calorie counts are even more ridiculous.  Or at a fine-dining steakhouse like Metropolitan Grill or El Gaucho — 3,000 calories easy for someone who orders 1 entree, 1 salad, 1 drink, and a desert. Grande Frappucino plus blueberry muffin at Starbucks is 700 nutritionally deficient calories. Not saying McDonald’s Value Meals provide the balanced and diverse nutrition we try to get customers to consistently eat, they don’t. I’m just wondering why McDonald’s gets blamed for the obesity epidemic when they don’t serve anywhere near the most nutritionally appalling meals.

They use manipulative advertising to get kids addicted to eating shit.
Anthony Bourdain describes McDonald’s advertising tactics as “Black Propaganda.” (He exaggerates, but let’s work with it). And so?  Try to think of an (effective) ad that isn’t manipulative, that provides a cold, detached, balanced review of a product’s benefits and a brand’s purpose. Is there a nation that doesn’t use propaganda to control its populace?  Find me a person who isn’t manipulative and I’ll stop charging customers $1 for Better Service.

How to Figure People Out
Asking what someone likes doesn’t reveal much about the person.

“The woman I like is smart, sexy, confident, tomboy by day, sex kitten by night, looks good in either jeans or a dress…” which reveals that this guy is a fucking tool, a dull one at that.  A better way to figure out who someone is — personality and social status — and how they’ll act is to mix it up and ask what they dislike. Here’s a real life example, from an interview with an applicant:

Interviewer: What are your career goals?
Applicant: I hope to work at Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC) food stamps program.  I want to help the poor make better choices with their food stamp money.  I want to help the poor eat better.
Interviewer: What do you think about Roger’s Market?  (Roger’s is an independent grocery store in Mountlake Terrace, primarily serving low income residents.  Lots of food stamps).
Applicant: It’s disgusting, everything about it.  I try to stay away from there.
Interviewer: Then you won’t last 2 weeks working at the WIC.
Applicant: Huh?
Interviewer: You just told me you hate poor people.  If you can’t stand shopping at Roger’s, where those with food stamps shop, then how are you going to work with them on a near daily basis?

Not saying she’s insincere about her desire to help the poor eat better. Just saying this desire is driven by a conflict within herself she doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to acknowledge because it’s too painful to do so. When we cross-check this interview transcript with applicant resume and Facebook page, what emerges is a standard lower middle-class female who’s one wrong move from becoming White trash.  That’s why she spends money she doesn’t have on microbrews and listens to college radio. That’s why she goes into debt to get a bullshit degree at a bullshit college, to gain some psychological (but ephemeral) distance from the wrong side of the tracks, even at the risk of having the debt force her to stand in line for food stamps.  And it’s precisely that risk — unacknowledged but instinctively recognized — that makes her hate those she’s afraid of becoming. That’s why she expresses her repressed hatred by seeking a career that allows her to “help” those she hates, that confirms her identity as not one of them.

Why We Actually Don’t Hate McDonald’s
Hating McDonald’s is like hating your great-grandmother for being a racist.  She’s an icon for lasting this long, so you forgive her faults. McDonald’s is an American icon, and they know it, which is why they’re using sentimental ads to make you less pissed off at them, to remind you of a time when everyone, regardless of social class and race, ate at McDonald’s without guilt.

Thesis: those who hate McDonald’s don’t hate McDonald’s.  They hate McDonald’s customers. They hate the stereotype of those who regularly eat at McDonald’s. They hate poor people, and the ones afraid that they themselves will end up poor probably hate themselves too. Let’s return to the 5 reasons why people hate McDonald’s.

1. They treat their employees like shit.
2. Their food tastes like shit.
3. They put shit in their food.
4. Their food makes people look like shit.
5. They use manipulative advertising to get kids addicted to eating shit.

Above 5 is how we routinely describe the poor.  It’s the poor, the thinking goes, who get paid and treated like shit.  It’s the poor who eat food that tastes like shit; who are pathetic enough to eat food that literally is shit; who are obese; who are stupid enough to be so easily manipulated.

But we’ve been taught that it’s socially unacceptable to shit on the poor. So we displace our hate onto the biggest piece of cultural flotsam we see, the number one fast food company in the world. Calling out the Greek diner or Chinese takeout or the dive bar that serves too much alcohol is too politically problematic — these are hard working immigrants making a living by providing what people want and blaming alcohol will lead to riots.  But blaming a giant corporation for serving what people want *is* socially acceptable, a lot more so than telling your daughter to lose 50 pounds.

It’s easier to blame McDonald’s for making people fat than to blame fat people for making themselves fat, *possibly* from eating at McDonald’s.  It’s more comforting: “It’s not my fault my kids are obese,” rationalizes Mom’s defense mechanism. “If we just get rid of fast food and raise wages, these people wouldn’t act as they do,” the Champagne Socialist who has never lived among non-immigrant American poor surmises. In other words, it’s more comforting to believe that we don’t control our destiny, that virtue and character don’t emerge from that struggle within, that it’s simply a matter of public fucking policy.  Fix the policy and we’ll have Heaven on Earth, the thinking goes, as people wait and wait and wait for the government to get it right.

The problem isn’t McDonald’s.   McDonald’s is just providing what some people want and making McDonald’s disappear isn’t going to make a difference — none at all — because people will get what they want and what they deserve, regardless of public policy and intervening laws. The problem is us.  We’re the ones who are suspicious instead of skeptical, gullible instead of judicious, and fearful of our place in a rapidly changing society.

Nietzsche on the Monsters we fight (from Beyond Good and Evil):

“Those who fight Monsters should look to it that they themselves do not become Monsters.  And when you gaze long into the Abyss, the Abyss also gazes into you.”

And the only experience more terrifying than the abyss gazing back into you is when it offers you a Big Mac and Fries, which you then eat alone.

Alive Juice Bar Training Manual, Part II: How to Recognize Bullshit

Link to Part I, on Working With Human Nature


I. Bullshit is Everywhere
From Time magazine, 2014:

Chinese troops violently retook the square in Beijing where pro-democracy protesters had set up camp for weeks.The Tiananmen Square massacre left an unknown number dead, with some estimates in the thousands, and smothered a democratic movement. But after a quarter-century—and a thorough attempt by the Chinese government to conceal the events that unfolded that June—our collective memory is sometimes limited to not much more than an image of a man defiantly standing in front of a tank.

Imagine the massacre, what it looked like.

Now watch this video of “tank man”:

Watch the entire fucking thing you lazy piece of shit, especially if you were born before 1980. I’ll make this worth the two and a half minutes of your time, this will blow your mind.

What did you see?  Pick:

a. Brave Chinaman standing up for democracy and human rights
b. Lunatic Chinaman doing some crazy shit.

Now what did the tank do?  What the fuck did the tank do?

a. Crushed the Chinaman.
b. Tried to go around the Chinaman.

Is your bullshit detector on?  What did you see?  What did you read? Does everything make sense or do you sense dissonance between what you saw and what you read?

I saw a battalion of tanks show remarkable restraint.  Tank didn’t even react when Chinaman climbed on top of it. Now stand on the top of a police car in the US and see what happens to you.

Now read this, from Wikileaks:

“He watched the military enter the square and did not observe any mass firing of weapons into the crowds, although sporadic gunfire was heard. He said that most of the troops which entered the square were actually armed only with anti-riot gear – truncheons and wooden clubs; they were backed up by armed soldiers,” a cable from July 1989 said.

So who is full of shit, the Chinese government or Time magazine? Time fucking magazine, that’s who and this isn’t the only bullshit that gets tossed at us. Now ask yourself why nearly all Americans who followed news of this incident believed it even when there isn’t one video or photo showing systematic killing of students in the Square?  (There are only videos of riots in parts of the city, which all parties agree happened).  What makes people susceptible to believing bullshit?

(Click here if you’re interested in what really happened)

Good managers can spot bullshit.  And there’s a lot of bullshit out there — most of it is bullshit — people’s delusions about themselves and others count as bullshit too. Spot bullshit by relying more on a person’s actions and the results of their actions, less on what a person says. Words are meaningless until backed by action and results.

II. Why People are Full of Shit

You can learn a lot about a person by noting what type of bullshit he believes in. A few years back there was a report on the news about a pitbulls killing a boxer at a Seattle dog park. Description of pitbulls’ owners, from Mountlake Terrace News:

The couple is described as a heavily tattoo (sic) man in his 20’s and a female 5’6 190 lbs late in her 20’s with three pit bulls.

(Identified as White in another description).

In other words, whiggers.  Yes yes, it makes sense, so much sense…

Except it didn’t to those who paid attention to the improbability of some of the details of the report. Which you’re not likely to do if you secretly hate whiggers (which is a more socially acceptable way of expressing hatred of Black people) . At any rate, it turned out to be a hoax, a bullshit report that led to hysteria and two weeks worth of copycat bullshit reports of pitbulls throughout Puget Sound region mauling this dog and that dog while their whigger owners stood there laughing.

Point is, people will believe that which confirms their reality.  And not believe that which challenges their identity.  That’s why there’s so much bullshit, why people lie to themselves and to others.

Good managers are adept at recognizing and managing employee and customer realities and identities. The self-described “nice girl” will find it difficult to recognize her inconsiderate behavior and if she does, will excuse it or blame others.  The guy who thinks he’s funny won’t notice that nobody is laughing at his jokes.  The customer who thinks he’s being polite when he doesn’t tell employee that there’s something wrong with a product won’t realize that he’s a cowardly narcissist who is hurting the business by not letting anyone know.

III. How to Detect Bullshit 

Deflection instead of taking responsibility.  If you point out to employee that he did something wrong and he responds with: “Oh I usually do it right I just messed up that one time,” he’s full of shit and will make that same mistake again.

Anyone who is wordy is full of shit.  They’re like students answering short essay questions.  The ones who know the answer get to the point and give the correct answer with precision and alacrity. Those who don’t know guess this and that in hopes of getting partial credit.  Never trust someone who rambles, who can’t stick to a topic.

Anyone who uses a lot of jargon is full of shit.  Jargon is meant to intimidate and confuse so you don’t call them out on their bullshit.

Those who name-drop are full of shit. Also used to intimidate.

Changing the topic means there’s bullshit.

Blaming others and making excuses means there’s bullshit. This one happens all the time.

Gift giving can be a sign of bullshit to come or to cover/make up for.  Dad buys daughter new car because he feels guilty about divorcing her mom.  Girl gives super nice but too nice boyfriend really good blowjob before breaking up with him the next day. Giving a compliment to fish for a compliment.  Telling spouse you love her after losing a month’s worth of salary at the casino.

Those who fish for compliments, who are addicted to praise and affirmation, are full of shit.  To feed their addiction, they give bullshit compliments to other people in hopes of favor returned.  Which creates a fake world of meaningless words.

We’ll keep adding to this list.  In the meantime, train yourself to spot signs of bullshit and how to translate what someone is really saying by focusing on their actions.


“Happy Birthday, Love you Dad!”
Translation: “I love you because I seek your affirmation that I’m a good daughter. But I don’t love you enough to plan how I’m going to take care of you when turn geriatric. Your affirmation isn’t worth that much trouble.”

Note: Love is an action, not a feeling.  Love is communicated through words when there’s little or no action.

“Honey, I got your dry cleaning!”
Translation: “Take me to this show and dinner and then play with my pussy for long time when we get home. I earned it.”

Note: Fishing for acknowledgement is one of the lowest forms of emotional manipulation. It suggests score keeping, which is impossible to maintain if one wants a healthy relaltionship.

Next in Part III, we’ll consider scenarios on how to best work with customers and employees.