Aug 8, 2010
Ladies and gentlemen, I have become that mom. We’ve been visiting family in the States for the last few months, and I have become the mom who frequents the McDonald’s drive-thru. The other day, while hollering into the microphone to the invisible McOrderTaker, I found myself asking whether she could throw an Incredible Hulk into our Happy Meal because we already had Spiderman, Iron Man, Human Torch and Wolverine.
When we drove up to the first window to pay, the woman kindly told me that she couldn’t find any Hulks, to which I responded, “Oh, okay, well, how about Silver Surfer or Captain America?” She said to give her a minute to check. Minute up, and neither of these superheroes was available. I told her that we would not actually be wanting the Happy Meal after all because we really don’t want any duplicate superheroes. I left empty-handed. She was probably annoyed. And as we hightailed it out of the driveway, my son let me know he was still hungry. There was no happy in this meal; this non-existent meal turned out to be sad. Very, very sad.
Three days into my McDonald’s Anonymous program, I dropped out and went back to the place oft referred to as the McDevil. It was Silver Surfer or Captain America or bust. And bust I did. As I gave my order to the man, he was quick to inform me that they don’t offer Happy Meals before 10.30am. I paused, took a deep breath, and asked the man if they served large cups of calm before 10.30am. We drove away, again foodless and empathy-less, and my son said, “I like toast, ma, and cereal.” Of course he does, but I seem to have developed this strange compulsion to contribute to corporate giants’ bottom lines since we’ve been here, causing me to forget about his nutrition and what he might actually like to eat.
I can’t say whether it’s the consumer culture, the favourable exchange rate or a certain nostalgia for foodstuffs and other unnecessaries like Chip Clips, Ziploc Storage Bags with the Smart Zip Seal and doormats that say “Well, Butter My Butt and Call Me A Biscuit, Look Who’s Here” in my birth country that make me want to be the Commandant of the Consumer Team. Whatever it is, I’ve turned into some anti-heroine. (Note to self: contact McDonald’s and ask them if they’d be interested in including Tremendous Capitalist Mom, Out of This World Purchasing Matriarch or Amazing Procuring Mother figurines in future Happy Meals)
As self-appointed Commandant of the Consumer Team, I believe it is my duty to pop in regularly to the little piece of paradise known as Target. Just as Selfridges and John Lewis in my adopted country offer dining places to enhance (read: extend) the shopping experience, Target does so on a no-frills basis. It greets with you with a Starbucks inside to give you your “get shoppin’ kick”, and then a Pizza Hut to feed a growling stomach after walking up and down the first twenty aisles.
Ask my little guy what his ma’s favourite place is, and he proudly responds, “TARGET!” Ask him where he’d like to have an adventure – Disneyland, the zoo, the park – and he proudly responds, “TARGET!” This answer and the fact that I have been planning our adventures of late according to the destination’s proximity to a McDonald’s or a Target are clear indications that we need to get the heck out of dodge. Oh, are those the Ikea catalogue and the Toys R Us ads I see that just arrived in the post today?