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Church at McDonald’s

July 31, 2011

I came to McDonald’s this morning because I wanted a breakfast burrito and because it’s one of the few places in town that has WiFi and Dr. Pepper.

As I circled the parking lot trying to find a space I remember that today is Sunday and that on Sunday mornings McDonald’s is like church. I don’t know why that thought strikes me so intensely every time I come here on a Sunday.

Maybe it’s all the people bustling around inside. All here for the commune. So many people talking and laughing over trays and egg McMuffins. Mother’s settling children who will not settle. Fathers laughing at the struggle.

Singular people drinking coffee and reading newspapers. Ot the woman in the corner reading her Nicholas Sparks book. And me with my computer, typing away, while I slyly watch them all.

In one corner there’s a big table full of older men who look of an age to be retired. They gesture wildly and talk loudly. I can’t quite understand what they are saying, but I imagine they’re talking about the things men in groups often discuss. Politics, weather, the good old days.

Their female counterparts — some of them the wives of these men — sit at a large gathering of tables in the opposite corner of the restaurant. Their conversation is more muted, but I imagine they are discussing things I often hear women discuss. Their men, their children and kids these days.

I see these people every Sunday that I’m here. They start early with a small group, and as I write and glance at them from time to time the group grows. Some come for a short time and go off quickly — to grocery shop for the week I imagine. Others stay the entire time. Early morning to early afternoon.

When I was visiting New York almost a year ago now I spent a Sunday in the Astoria McDonalds. At the foot of the Queens R Train I saw the same thing. Only that was a smaller McDonalds so the women hovered around rather than choosing a table. While the men spoke and gestured wildly in their corner of tables. I couldn’t quite understand what they are saying, but I imagine they’re talking about the things men in groups often discuss. Politics, weather, the good old days.

In Astoria they were all a specific ethnicity — much like I imagine they are here — and they were speaking another language. Probably Greek, because I was told there are a lot of Greek immigrants in that part of Queens. But it felt exactly the same. The conversation, the exchange.

The commune.

Church

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