Melancholy McDonald's

By Mike Johnson

I immersed myself in McDonald's reverie this weekend.

It was like revisiting a first love. I hate her for failing to meet my expectations but still love her anyway.


It began Friday watching "The Founder" for the 15th time. I treasure that scene where Dick & Mac McDonald design their kitchen by chalking it out on a tennis court while their crew mimics production. I adore feeling the anxiety of a jittery Ray Kroc outside the restaurant back door, waiting for Dick & Mac to decide if Kroc gets to sell franchises.

This was Hollywood, not actual life, but showed how one moment, one decision, can affect hundreds of millions.

I followed that by rereading Ray Kroc's autobiography, "Grinding it Out."

Then I link-surfed Kroc-related info from Wikipedia. Funny how so many "facts" are different in different sources.

At age five I ate my first meal from McDonald's #93 in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. This was the store connected to Kroc's future wife Joan Smith. Eleven years later, I worked there. Four years later, I graduated Hamburger U and took over managing a $1.2 million annual sales McDonald's in Ft. Myers, Florida.

I loved that job. I not only drank the Kool-aid, I marinated in it. It was the last company that fully got my soul.

Things were simple then. Small menu. Strong employee work ethic. A burning passion to produce exceptional quality, service and cleanliness - every second of every shift.

We've lost that. Complexity and financialization have swallowed everything.

Ray Kroc knew this.

His motivational talks often ended with a KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.

Less done better, always beats more done poorly.


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