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Friday, March 25, 2005

Fiction
Other Overwrought Acceptance Speeches

Teddy Wayne


McDonald’s Employee of the Month, August

Wow. (Long pause, holds out framed certificate.) The corners are so sharp! O.K., deep breath. Whew.

It’s an honor just to be nominated for this award by virtue of my being one of the four full-time employees at the Champaign, Illinois, Location #3 McDonald’s for the entirety of August. I’m humbled to be mentioned in the same franchise location-wide memo with the likes of Pete Lincoln, Tanya Randolph, and Billy … omigod, Billy, I’m totally blanking on your last name, please don’t hate me!

I didn’t prepare a speech, because I never in my three months here thought I’d win, but I wrote down some names on this napkin, which I also partially used to clean up a spilled McFlurry, so it’s not a 3-G violation (unnecessary usage of inventory). First, this award should really go to George Hallister, even though he’s officially considered an employer and is therefore not eligible. George, you’re my inspiration, my McNugget mentor, my Monday-through-Thursday shift manager—you took a chance on me in June when I was a jobless college student with no fast-food experience whose employment forms Wendy’s wouldn’t look at. Remember when I didn’t know the first thing about arranging fries so a medium appears like a large, or garbling my voice in the drive-thru microphone to justify potential order errors, when first cashier was just a dream? George, we made it, and I’m lovin’ it!

Sorry, my tears have smudged the names a bit … um, let’s see … Illinois, your minimum wage of $6.50 an hour, ninth-highest in the nation, has been just enough to keep me here and not enough to let me move anywhere better. Of course, my parents, who failed to adequately save for my college tuition but were always so supportive—forceful, even—about my getting a job in the service industry this summer. Finally, I couldn’t have done this without the billions and billions served at McDonald’s. I’m not sure if that refers to people or hamburgers, but this is for you guys, or things!



* * *

Possible Publisher’s Clearinghouse Winner

Woo-hoo! (Waves envelope.) It’s so padded! Hi, kids! Mommy may have already won $10 million! Now go to sleep, it’s past your bedtime!

I want to thank the members of the Clearinghouse for providing postage if this letter is mailed within the U.S., and for selecting me among the millions of American households that also may have already won. And a special thank-you to Ed. I love you, brother! You’re the McMahon! Even though we’ve never met, I’ll always “clear” a place for you in the “house” of my “heart.” Whoops, I didn’t mean to air-quote that last one. Anyway, I wouldn’t have won without you, and, to be accurate, I still may not.

On that note, there are some people who would like to discredit this award because I only “may” have already won. To those critics I say: If you may do something, then you can do it. Wait, how does it go when you’re in school? You ask, “Can I go to the bathroom?” and the teacher’s like, “I don’t know, can you?” and you have to be all, “May I go to the bathroom?” So, yeah, I don’t know if I can have already won, but I may have already won. Does that make sense?


* * *

Bearer of Card with Ten Holes Punched Entitling Patron to a Free Eleventh Sandwich

(Tongue-kisses female cashier.) Oh, man. (Turns card over in hands.) This fits so nicely into the credit-card slot in my wallet! Gosh—you think about this moment forever, and then when you’re finally handed back the card at the register, you’re at a complete loss.

For that kid out there in a mall in Topeka or Paris or Baghdad, who’s halfway through his third sandwich and doesn’t think he can finish … follow your dreams no matter what people say, and throw away the sandwich if you want—it still counts as a purchase. When I ordered Sandwich One—turkey with honey mustard on a baguette, all the fixings—no one thought I’d make it past Sandwich Five. But I kept plugging away on my lunch breaks, took each sandwich as it was prepared, removed the crust when necessary, and look at me now: I’m king of the free-eleventh-sandwich-entitled world!

To my girlfriend of two-and-a-half months, this eleventh one is for you and me. Except this whole thing has kind of killed my appetite for sandwiches for a while, so maybe next week, ’kay? You’re my extra peppers and onions.

Some of you have heard about the food poisoning I got from Sandwich Six in April, a foot-long sub with tuna and some mayo that most likely had not been properly refrigerated. Like a lot of my fans, for a moment I thought I was through with the journey. But as I retched before my toilet for two hours, I kept thinking about the first sandwich I ever had, a P.B. and J. on Wonder Bread my mom cut into triangles. And I—I knew that sandwich wouldn’t want me to give up. Sorry, I need a moment. This is hard. You know, it sounds corny, but I can just feel that sandwich is looking down at me from on top of a landfill somewhere. (Holds up card, looks heavenward.)

(Radio on top of sneeze guard starts blaring Top 40 song.) Wait, wait! Let me finish, please! This is my one chance to say something important about a selfless cause, even though I spent my allotted two minutes rattling off charming quips steeped in false modesty!

I want to dedicate this free eleventh sandwich to the people of Ethiopia, who have no sandwiches. They still have that famine, right? Or did we cure it? Whatever, the people of Africa. Someday, if we all join together like two slices of bread around a protein-rich filling and assorted roughage for flavor and texture, I hope that all sandwiches on this earth—whether they are white or seven-grain, with or without cheese, open- or closed-face—will be free.

Teddy Wayne is a writer living in Manhattan. His work has also recently been published in McSweeney's and Time magazine. He runs a 4.3 40 and was a Southwest Conference First-Team selection at cornerback.