McDonald's proved this week that the road to public relations hell is paved with good intentions -- and hashtags. The company introduced a Twitter hashtag crusade, asking customers to share their happy fee-fees and heartwarmingly poignant stories about dining at McDoo's, but as with most things that start out with the best of intentions -- like organized religion, the GOP and mass-produced orange juice -- this awesome idea turned into an awesome fiasco, and quickly. Twitter-ers shared sordid tales of filthy restaurants and foreign objects in their food -- and Chicken McNuggets were impugned with startling voracity. As a result, the #McDStories hashtag was yanked after two hours, with the company's social media director offering the PR equivalent of "oopsie Mcwhoopsie," but the comments are still going strong.
With this debacle as inspiration, I'm delving into my own cardboard-clamshell box of horrible McDonald's memories--here are my top five: #shouldsueMcDooforpainandsuffering
5. The scary death claw.
I was in high school, stoned -- don't judge me -- cruising in my friend's Geo Storm -- don't judge her -- with several of my also-stoned friends, when a trip through the drive-thru at McDonald's for a harmless 9-piece Chicken McNuggets and a vanilla shake ended in traged, as well as a decent-sized emergency room bill. My third nugget was crunchy in the bad way, and I pulled what appeared to be a small bone with a single chicken claw attached to it out of my mouth. I screamed, inspiring bud-induced mass hysteria in the car for about twenty minutes, inspiring a full-blown panic attack on my part. My friend's mom rushed me to the ER, where the nurses weren't even trying to hide their giggles and snorts, and I was eventually released with paperwork ordering me not to smoke any more marijuana. My friend's mom inspected the bone-claw, and it was merely a piece of gristle in an odd, twisted shape. #maybeitreallywasaclaw
4. Shake it up.
I was grandma-sitting for my friend one day when I was in my early twenties, and she insisted on having lunch at McDonald's, in the restaurant, so I obligingly took us there. She ordered a filet 'o fish sandwich, we sat down at a booth littered with shreds of lettuce and ketchup smears, and while I was trying to enjoy my strawberry shake, Grammy was regaling me with every disgusting story/rumor/bit of urban folklore she'd ever heard about McDonald's food. "They use rotten strawberries on the sundaes," she proclaimed, eyeing my shake suspiciously. I kept slurping, nonplussed, and assured her that the shakes were fine. She kept benignly chewing her sandwich for a few minutes, then all of a sudden leaned close and whispered, "They use aborted fetuses in their hamburgers, so I always order the fish." I stopped drinking my shake, mid-slurp, and directed my nauseated gaze at Grammy, who was nodding affirmatively while she pushed a fry into her mouth. #isurehopeshewaswrong
3. Much ado about syrup.
Several years ago my boyfriend and I were hitting the drive-thru for breakfast, and he ordered hot cakes and sausage, joking about how the last few times he'd gotten pancakes, the employees had forgotten to give him condiments. We got our food, he opened the bag, and lo and behold, they had forgotten the little tub of syrup....again. He was pissed, parked the car, took the bag into the store with me trailing behind him and confronted the emotionally stifled female clerk. She listened to his hollering for about a minute, then told him that they weren't telling anyone at the drive-thru that they had run out of syrup because they didn't want people to get mad. #basicreasoningskillsnotajobrequirement
2. Take this job and shove it.
I worked at a McDonald's for four days my junior year of high school. I was having philosophical differences with my regular place of employment, Taco Bell, so I quit and got hired at the golden arches. On day one, I was told that I would not be working the register up front, but instead I'd be manning the grill in the back (I found out on day three that this was because the creepy fifty-year-old assistant manager wanted me in his area so he could hit on me). After two nights of scraping hamburger leavings and odorous grease spackle and using a caulk gun to spurt mayo on things, I requested a transfer to the front registers, which was promptly denied, due to the reason above. On day four manager McNasty told me I was so beautiful, just like his daughter in college, and I threw my fat-covered apron on the floor and left. Taco Bell took me back. #hahahamotherfuckersIatefreepickleseveryday
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1. Supersize my liver.
When Morgan Spurlock's docu-drama about the McRamifications of eating too much McD's came out, I was the first one of my friends to see it, mostly for the schadenfreude. I can't say it was a life-changing experience, but it did permanently affect my perception of McDonald's -- and its food. Months later I was in a Mickey Dee's with friends and their kids, and I reluctantly ordered a salad and an iced tea. The chicken was gold and greasy, the tomatoes were way past their prime, the carrots were ashy, and the lettuce was all iceberg -- a cardinal salad sin. Even the tea seemed cloyingly sweet, so I was wondering if that fry-horfing scene in the movie had ruined McDoo for me forever. I had lost my appetite for their food, something even Taco Bell hadn't managed to accomplish despite my years of pimping Mexican pizzas for slightly-above minimum wage. I didn't eat there again for months, and the next time I hit the drive-thru I was drunker than Rip Torn. The quarter pounder and fries were delicious! That was when the clouds parted, cherubs were playing little harps, and I figured out the enigma of McDonald's: chemically-altered reality is the key to enjoying its food. Eating McDonald's food sober is like watching Labyrinth without dropping acid -- you can't have one without the other. #IbetRipTornlikestheMcRibsandwich