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There I was, sitting in a booth at the local McDonald’s; my two best friends- Beth and Chris- sitting just across from me. The school day had ended not less than 30 minutes ago, and my friends and I- the outcasts and so-called “freaks” of Paul Revere High School- decided to head over to this most unappealing of fast-food restaurants.
We don’t come here often. And when we do, we merely sit in silence, me drinking my usual chocolate milkshake, Beth and Chris eating some form of deep-fried heart attack on a bun.
The familiar white, yellow and red straw stuck out from between my slightly chapped lips as I slowly drained the cup of its iced milk and dairy product contents. Although, now that I think about it, said products can’t really be considered dairy at all. Suddenly, as the diluted chocolaty concoction reached my tongue, I was struck with a peculiar thought.
Now, we already know that America, in general, is fat, and Bill Gates has more money than McDonald’s has sold clammy burgers and soggy french fries. As for me, I used to love barbecue more than any other food. That was before Rebecca and her vegetarianism rubbed off on me. And that was way before we broke up. But it’s not like I don’t enjoy saltine crackers and salad every day; in fact, I actually kind of like it. Oh, and I freaking love Cheez-Itz too.
But more to the point, people in this day and age simply don’t care about anything. They all like to think that they care, but I don’t believe that’s the truth. The politicians don’t care about the people; they are in it for themselves. The environmentalists don’t care about the world; the world includes people who need help too. The health nuts don’t care about food; they just want to be thin and “healthy”. In reality, all of this simply makes the world a worse place than most people like to believe it is.
So like I said, people just don’t care, not do I think they truly ever will.
And the more I thought about this peculiar bit of information I formed in my brain, the more it angered me, and the more I asked myself why.
Finally, without warning, I stood. The booth seat scraped the floor. I threw my milkshake- if it can even be called that- to the floor. The lumpy liquid splattered across the speckled tile in a lumpy mess. My friends stared at me in disbelief.
“Umm… Alex?” Beth questioned, giving a nervous glance at Chris, who returned it.
“Why,” I asked out loud, yet more to myself than anything, “Why the heck should I care about the environment or politics or being healthy when no one else does? Why should I be any different than them?” I motioned to the people around me, without really meaning to.
Those aforementioned people had turned to stare at me. Within the mix of confused looks were a few angry glares, especially from the employees and the mother of three in the booth across the aisle.
So, I gathered myself, finally taking a much needed breath of air. I strolled calmly away from the booth. My brand new neon Converse made a strangely satisfying squish in the milky concoction on the floor. Just outside the glass doors, I looked to the clear blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds and inhaled the polluted city air. Then I promptly walked my butt all the way home with Beth and Chris not too far behind.
Now, years later, I sit eating one of those world-famous heart attacks on a bun in that same booth at McDonald’s with my same friends, laughing about the most random things.
And you know, I continue to wear that old pair of Converse, which surprisingly still fit. And that bit of McDonald’s milkshake on the bottom of my shoes never did disappear. I think a part of me somehow wanted it to stay there as a kind of reminder of my little epiphany that day, even if it is just an unconscious reminder.