Golden Arches: Anthony Fiset’s Senior Column
First of all, let me start by saying that all of the assignments, posts, studying, etc. that I have procrastinated in my college career would have meant nothing if I didn’t get to procrastinate in writing this column.
Second, I would like to quote the late, great Paul Rudd and say, “Who would’ve thought? Not me.”
I realize that some of you may now be Googling to see if Paul Rudd died, but rest assured, he is still alive and well. That is, until one day when we open the Schrödinger’s box that is Twitter to find out that he has died.
What is the point of all this? Well, for one, to let you know that if you never check Twitter, then every single person you have ever known exists eternally in a state of being simultaneously dead and alive until you open Twitter to find out the reality for yourself. Therefore, opening Twitter kills your friends. Please always keep this in mind.
I promised myself I would not get too sappy in this, so aside from dipping our toes into quantum superposition, we are going to keep things light.
One thing I will get sappy about, though, is the McDonald’s downtown.
It is a magnificent place where I have consumed many a McChicken at many different levels of inebriation, but as they say, you never forget your first time.
My first time at the McDonald’s in downtown State College was also my first run in with a private security officer. At the time, the concept of private security officers in a fast food chain was foreign to me. The only private security guards I knew worked at my high school, and they couldn’t protect one of those old Nokia cell phones if it were driving a 2020 Subaru Crosstrek, one of the IIHS’ top safety picks.
I took it that this security guard was no different, except he worked in a McDonald’s instead of a public school.
When I arrived at the McDonald’s, it was sometime after midnight following one of my very first college parties. It is important to note that at this point, I was probably well below the legal limit — if it had applied to me.
Anyway, I walked in, and after being taken aback at first by the security presence, I proceeded to the restroom because I had to pee, as one does following a party. I did my business, washed my hands, and exited the bathroom with my mind already on my McPick 2 order (RIP).
That’s when I was stopped by the security guard.
He pointed to my feet and said something along the lines of, “LoOk wHaT YoU haVE on YOur shOe!”
I looked down and my heart dropped.
It was toilet paper — the most devastating thing that could ever happen to someone in a room full of peers was happening to me in a semi-crowded McDonald’s.
Remain calm, I thought to myself. I slowly reached down to grab the toilet paper, thinking I would be able to walk back into the bathroom, throw it away, wash my hands, and get back in line like this all never happened.
I was wrong.
As I tried to grab the toilet paper, the security guard yelled something like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? That is disgusting. You need to clean your hands.”
“I know. I am going to throw this away then wash my ha–,” I tried to explain.
But that wasn’t a good enough answer for him. He pointed into the kitchen.
“No, you need to clean your hands now!” he ordered.
I was dumbfounded. For one, there were obviously rules in place preventing me from just walking behind the counter at McDonald’s. We live in a society, and from what I could tell, there wasn’t even a sink where he was pointing.
“I will,” I said after a long, confused pause, taking a step toward the bathroom.
That’s when he grabbed my arm, dragged me like a toddler behind the wall in the corner of the kitchen, pumped one neat dollop of hand sanitizer into my palm, and let go.
As quickly as it had started, it was over. I rubbed the hand sanitizer into my hands and returned to the line with my roommate, shook. I got my McPick 2 and left. Mortified by the experience, I thought I would never return to that McDonald’s ever again.
But I returned. Many times. Too many times. I kept coming back for the convenience of $1 McChickens and quick service at all hours of the day.
I know I spent a lot of time on an anecdote about McDonald’s, but in a way McDonald’s is a lot like college, so too is it like life.
We go into McDonald’s at our best and at our worst. We get humiliated by security guards for having toilet paper on our shoe. We get the occasional cold fry. Soggy McChicken.
Yet we keep coming back.
We bomb exams, stumble through presentations, and occasionally sleep through lectures.
Yet we keep moving forward.
One day, we will eat our last McChicken. Maybe it will even have to be over Zoom.
But as we move onto so called better things, just know that each memory — good, bad, or both — will last a lifetime.
I would like to thank every single person in that McDonald’s that night for being a part of one of the funniest things that has ever happened to me.
Thank you to the security guard who taught me how to be humble. Getting yanked around in a McDonald’s probably did more for my character than getting a C+ in Math 141 ever could.
I realize I wasted a lot of time on that McDonald’s anecdote so I am going to make this quick.
Thank you to all of the friends I have met in class, via the Penn State roommate lottery, or in line at Canyon Pizza at 2 a.m. Whether we remained friends for four years or five minutes, I cherish you.
I would also like to make a special shoutout to every single person who lived on the third floor of Shulze Hall. I love y’all. El Cuerno De Chivo for life.
Thank you to all of the editors at Onward State for letting me publish most of my dumb thoughts on this wonderful blog, for continuing to edit my posts even when they come in extra late, and for giving me a domain to call home.
And to everyone who has ever said any mean things to me in the comment section, just know you were probably getting mad because you didn’t understand the joke. Stop reading a blog and pick up a book.
Just kidding, Keep reading the blog. Forever and always.
— Anthony Fiset
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