McDonald’s Hiring Poster by Rich Boucher

In the first vision,
I see the McDonald’s Hiring Poster
the way I first saw it in my life,
the way I first lived in 1986 in my life,
when I got that first job
just after high school and right before forever,
back in that manager’s office
and there were nine of them,
nine free Americans all smiling at me
from just inside of that bright red and yellow poster.
Standing in tight 3 by 3 formation
and viewed from an angelic vantage point above them all,
they were every race and creed and sexual flavor,
all with the same exact exact white teeth,
African-Americans, white dudes and a winking pink dudette
and every shade of the rainbow
grinning together in name-tagged, two-dimensional harmony,
gay straight elderly heavy-set nerdy tough and milkfed
these stepford paragons gazed upon me lovingly
knowing that I was about to join the greasy slavery,
all nine of them looking at me
and I swore I saw them all licking their lips
as I waded slowly in, waded
until I was up to my chest in a swamp of cooking oil
and everything was America
and I had to smile because I had a Coke
and America coated me in a sheen of submission;
I was her boy.

In the second vision,
inspired by the lifetime experience
of serving the public
which has always meant serving the Devil
which has always meant minimum wage for maximum abuse
I see it: the McDonald’s Hiring Poster
frighteningly, fearsomely out of the frantic dark,
harshly spot-lit on a musty cellar wall
in the swinging, off-kilter glare of my unsteady flashlight
as I run and then stop, whirl around,
panting and terrified in a most lost and very haunted house;
all nine multiracial and multi-sexual and multi-trans
candidates for fast food employment
lift their bowed heads and then their happy faces change,
morph into scowls; I see the eyes on all nine
hollow out in an instant, their glares
floating quickly and irrevocably straight for me
from the depths of their empty eye sockets.

In the third vision,
I see the McDonald’s hiring poster
tumbling up in the dark of the night air,
aloft on a stinking, apocalyptic breeze,
half-crumpled, one corner ablaze
like I just missed whoever lit it with a lighter
and I can see the multi-hued and multi-identity
McDonald’s employees:
the young African-American girl
the older white lady
the middle aged guy whose ethnicity I can’t know
the teen person who I think is trans
like it matters what I either think or guess anymore
and they are all, together, unlike any hiring poster
I have ever seen; they’re not looking at me at all:
they don’t care if I want the job or not;
they don’t care if I get hired or not;
instead they are bickering and fighting with each other,
shoving and screaming into each other’s faces
like as if as though just like they were at an American rally
that was held in America to talk about America,
just like America has become one big angry rally
and melting pot screaming match;
I can make out the legend
welcome to the team
at the headline at the top of the poster
as the flames burn on, eating up the people
who once smiled at me
because McDonald’s once McDonalded them
into whole, actualized contributors
to the economy.

In the fourth vision,
I see the McDonald’s hiring poster
years and years and uncountable years
after the presidency of the Monster,
after America switched back to black and white,
after decades and decades of nuanced full-color,
after the end of the era of facts and truth;
I see the McDonald’s hiring poster,
faded to a quiet, mere pastel of its former dayglo,
dilapidated, only three rusted staples fixing it
steady to a billboard outside in the rain,
the rain making every face on that hiring poster cry;
all nine prospective McDonald’s team members weep,
wail and moan from the confines of the poster;
some of them reach to cover their mouths
to stop the sobbing
at the same time that I do;
why do these visions come to me now,
why do these visions come at all,
how many more will there be,
and what do they mean?

Who is the person
who can explain,
who can answer?

Rich Boucher resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His poems have appeared in Gargoyle, The Nervous Breakdown, Apeiron Review, The Mas Tequila Review, Menacing Hedge and Cultural Weekly, among others. He is the Associate Editor at Elbow Room Magazine:

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