Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Golden Arches

It's a sad day in the world of fast food. The inventor of the Egg McMuffin, the McDonalds almost perfect fast food breakfast delight, past away today. Herb Peterson was 89.

My start in the business world, such as it was, was working at McDonalds. So much has changed from when I started working there at the tender age of 16. When I worked at McDonalds, it was a drive in. Not as we know drive ins today. There were no speakers and no drive up window. You drove to the McDonalds, got out of your car and walked inside to order and get your food. Then you left. There were no tables. No place to sit. You ate in your car or took it home. In those days working at McDonalds was actually considered cool. It ranked up their with being a lifeguard as the two best summer jobs you could have. It was also a men's only job. No women worked at McDonalds. The menu was also much simpler. Just hamburgers, cheeseburgers, double hamburgers and double cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches, fries, soft drinks, apple pies and milkshakes. That was it. I started in french fries. The fries were made by hand. They didn't come frozen in boxes like they do today. We had these huge 100 pound sacks of potatoes that had to be hauled up from the basement, peeled, sliced and blanched. Since I weighed about 125 pounds at the time, manhandling these sacks of potatoes was quite an effort. And the smell - OMG. Some bags would start to rot before we got to them and the stink down in the basement where they were stored would make your eyes water. Of course being around all that grease that we fried the potatoes in did wonders for my sensitive teen skin. I think I still have some blocked pores from working there. I never developed the speed to work the grill. There was an art to be able to cook twenty-four hamburgers at a time and cook them without either burning the hell out of them or leaving them pink inside. I eventually worked my way up to working the registers in my second year and opening up in the mornings (no breakfast items back in the day). During the two years I worked at a McDonalds, they did introduce the Big Mac. We got to eat for free on our breaks and we consumed Big Macs by the dozen. To this day, I cannot eat a Big Mac. I got to where the taste would make me gag. They also started hiring women after I had been there about a year. At first they would only hire "mature" women. You know, women your Mother's age. I'm not sure what that was all about. I left before teen girls ever worked there. I earned barely the minimum wage, which back then was like $1.50 an hour. I also had to walk uphill both ways in the snow to get to and from school. Actually I liked working there. It was mostly just weekends during the school year and more full time during the summer. It gave me walking around money, which is all I really needed.

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