Happy Meal?

I cried at McDonald’s todaymcdonalds_logo_tm

Buying a Happy Meal for my son

And a number 3 for a white haired old man

Wearing a heavy parka in 90-degree weather.

Eighty should be a time for grandchildren, hugs

And a warm bed to sleep in at night. 

What happened to the world I know, I remember

Where a 80 year old man who’s starving,

          whose face is as hard as

          my Dooney & Bourke that costs $298,

          doesn’t have $4.29 for a number 3

Or even enough for a cup of coffee?

I cried at McDonald’s today

More for myself than for him.

Wondering when the American Dream

Became the American nightmare?


All rights reserved.  ©1996 by Sara Fryd


*In 1996, I had been laid off for quite a while.  Driving home the light changed quickly, I hit the brake.  There’s a McDonalds on the other corner.  I need french fries they’ll make me feel better.  There’s a broken old man giving the girl an expired newpaper coupon for a cup of coffee.  The look of dejection on his face.  It haunts you.  I handed her a $5 bill and told her to ask him what he wanted to eat, took my fries and sat down in a cubicle where I could not be seen as I was already crying.  When I left, he was sitting on the curb outside with the bag in his lap eating.  Guess he didn’t think he was worthy of a cubicle.


8 thoughts on “Happy Meal?

  1. There is truth in the words, “We are our brother’s keeper.” This was such a kind and virtuous act, that it shows goodness will always come out the winner in the end even if it’s knocked down the first few times.

    Excellent writing and a great read!


  2. Tears in my eyes, Sara, thinking of the hunger in his heart that probably made the hunger in his stomach pale in comparison. If only more people would be as generous as you.


  3. You are so right, we are all responsible. Amazing how giving yourself away lessens your own load. Check your email in a bit – am sending something.


  4. Yes, isn’t it awful that the young and the elderly…the two groups at the most vulnerable ends of the life journey…are the ones often so neglected ? Thank you Sara…I’m am often consumed by the needs of children at risk but admittedly don’t stop enough to think about elder abuse as well. I hope I one day have the opportunity to demonstrate the kindness you did.


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