Wednesday, March 17, 2004

A Modest Proposal

I went to McDonald's for lunch today.

For me, the main purpose of a lunch break is just to get away from my desk and the office for a while. The meal is secondary. I like to have that time in the middle of the day where I can forget this place exists, and just relax for a while. Unfortunately, it rarely works out quite like that.

I go into McDonald's, I place my order, and I get my food. I go from the counter to the condiment stand so I can get napkins, a straw, and my drink. This area, however, is overrun by three little kids who seem to be there for approximately the same purpose, with no adult supervision. One problem with this is that they're only about three feet tall, if that, and the condiment stand just isn't built to be effectively utilized by people that low to the ground. Therefore, the going is quite slow, and it's apparent that none of them are leaving until they're all ready to go. Secondly...well, they're kids, and they have no clue what's happening anywhere more than approximately four inches from their own bodies. Also, they're crazy. While one of them is struggling slowly in front of the drink machine, the other two are running and flailing around, trying to knock trays from the hands of other innocent customers.

Eventually I make my way through the obstacle course and get everything I need, then go sit down to eat and read. About three minutes after I do this, a small child starts shrieking. Throughout the course of my lunch, this child continues to shriek. Occasionally other children chime in. It makes the lunchtime experience about as irritating, unrelaxing, and unenjoyable as possible.

I live in Bowling Green and work in Toledo. Both cities have smoking bans which outlaw smoking in restaurants unless those restaurants have smoking sections that are actually sealed off from the non-smoking sections, with separate ventilation systems. It makes the dining experience a lot more pleasant for those of us who don't smoke.

You can probably see where I'm going with this. Is it so outlandish to wish for a similar system for children? There should be a separate area (soundproof) in a restaurant for people with kids, so that people who wish to have a quiet, relaxing meal can do so. The McDonald's I was at has something like this, with an indoor play area with tables to eat at. Not everyone with kids uses it, though.

Look, I know this was McDonald's, which is sort of a kid-oriented place, and I should just suck it up and take it. It's like that everywhere, though, from other fast-food places up to fairly nice restaurants. It would just be nice to occasionally be able to go out and enjoy a meal without having to put up with someone's brat making an ass of themselves.

I know it's never going to happen. Trust me, though, this is a lot less crazy than my real suggestion, which is for parents (or anyone responsible for children) to exact some discipline and require said children to behave like human beings.

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