I travel, safe to say I think, more than most. As I type I’m on a plane. I travel about every other week, sometimes more. Maybe this is why I’ve noticed we have a problem down at the local Micky D’s. Especially when driving cross country, you are looking for a convenient, quick and clean place to get rid of that coffee you really had to have a few hours before. But you can’t buy a meal every time. Stops kill your time results. Also, you aren’t hungry, but a cone sounds nice! Right? Wrong.
My last rendezvous with this fact was quite recent, and this angst has been building for a while, to be honest. What can I say, I like ice cream.
My wife and I were about to get into a stretch of I-20/59 that is pretty sparsely populated. We called an audible and took the exit. Would it be false hope that the Golden Arches inspired? I told her as we pulled in, “I bet you $10 the ice cream machine is broken.” When we walked out, I wanted to know where my money from the bet was. Oh, I wasn’t surprised, but more like the final squeaks of a balloon that’s loosing all it’s air, my final gasp of confidence in getting a cone from this place (or it’s billon other locations) left me with a grunt. I’m done, I told her. Let’s never stop for anything at McD’s ever again. She agreed.
Oh, the irony!
How could it be more ironic? Did you see the origen story movie about McDonalds, named The Founder? If so, you will doubtless remember that the founder was an ice cream machine salesman. It was a dark rendering of the origen of the now ubiquitous hamburger joint, to be sure. I am wondering, tho, would Ray Kroc roll over in his grave, especially given that the thing that lead him to the opportunity in the first place was ice cream?
Another institutionalization gone wrong…
You know the drill. Once something reaches broad reach and acceptance, it tends to become an institution. You can go almost anywhere in the world and ask someone what McDonalds is, in a number of languages, and they won’t struggle to give the correct answer. I’ve been in these in a number of countries. It’s almost a hallmark of western culture's creep into the far reaches of the world, or maybe it used to be. As it so often goes with institutions, the sparkle and contribution they had in the beginning that opened the door of broad opportunity is quickly lost, and now we trudge on, lukewarm and unenthusiastic, just trying to self perpetuate.
You can’t fix a human or leadership problem with technology or machines. The machines aren’t broken, the model is. The leadership is. The staff is. The value proposition is.
You may wonder why I’m wasting my breath on something so trivial. Sadly, so many of our institutions are in the same long, slow march to oblivion. Think about it.
Once we lose our heart of service to others, and that from proper and wholesome motives, we become part of the problem. Our self respect depends on having a contribution, and one for the betterment of others!
Is there any chance of restoring real hope to the likelihood of getting a cone at McDonalds?
Depends, I guess.
I have no expectation that this rant will ever make it to anyone at McDonalds in a position to make a difference. But who knows?
That’s really not the reason I write. I’m writing to challenge us to not be a source of false hope. I also write to caution us not to be reliant on false hope.
In one way, who cares? A cone isn’t that big of a deal, right?
But what if we, as the West, are losing our perspective of serving and contributing, and leaving others in a better place than we found them? What if our old value system of fast, efficient, and profitable has joined the long march to oblivion, and those who have a heart to serve are quickly supplanting it?
Examples abound to sure up my point, but, I’m sure they come to your mind as well. No need to go on and on.
One way we can be sure to avoid this trap is to be the difference we notice is needed. Are you doing your daily work as a service to others, with a hope to be a blessing to them? Will you cultivate your contribution to a place of strength and give it out to others from an open heart of service? Will you resist the persistent off ramps to cynicism and criticism that suggests that people don’t deserve it? I hope so. I hope I do too.
Proper motives don’t depend on expected responses. They have value that transcends context, which is best demonstrated in the giving.