BACK IN THE very early ’90s, McDonald’s is still number one. Before Nandos and Subway and juice bars, and Sushi Trains and fancy delis and alfresco dining. Before cardboard salads and Super Size Me and pistachio gelati, Maccas is still the thing. The big “M”, the Golden Arches glowing on every built-up horizon; the only place open in Queensland apart from Seven Elevens and Night Owls and service stations on long quiet roads in the suburban night. One of the only places where a young kid can hang out, pick up or pick a fight.
I’m thirteen when I start work at McDonald’s. You have to be fourteen to work legally in Queensland, but with my dad’s signature on a yellow form everything is arranged. McDonald’s is huge, part of the old school of Ronald McDonald; not express size or boutique, it is ‘mega-80s and mega-American. The drive-through does not wind around the carpark; it’s definitely hard on the clutch. You inch up to the Taj Mahal of cheese on a massive concrete ramp. Like something out of Star Wars, the cars bank up, headlights rearing, awaiting assignment or an expedition to space or another land. People queue endlessly, on the ramp or twelve deep at the registers in the dining room – an unquestionable popularity.
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