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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Finger Lickin' Bad

Hearing that news about Wendy's chilli surprise has me contemplating buying up bowls of the stuff to search for wedding/engagement rings. I mean, what incentive is there to look for the golden ticket in Wonka bars when you can find rings, Italian charm bracelets, and fancy press-on nails? Just think of the marketing opportunity: Wendy's chilli is the new Cracker Jacks box, and I for one have some chilli eatin' to do. I figure that after working just so far down the finger, we're bound to start hitting the bling.

OK, you know I'm just kidding. The whole event sounds absolutely horrifying, and absurd, and surreal, and God (I hate to admit it), but in it's horrifyingly, absurd, surreal way, funny. Really though, wasn't it nice of the woman to announce to the restaurant patrons to stop eating immediately, right before she started to vomit uncontrollably, multiple times? I want to know who in the restaurant thought, at first, she was some vegan warrior protestor? Who thought, "Oh geez, here we go". At least she could've said, "Aaahhh, there's someone's missing finger in my chilli", then, at least, they could've said, "oh, she just found a human finger in her food. Honey, grab the kids, we're going to Carl's Jrs". And what's with asking the employees to show their hands to see if anyone was missing part of a finger? Like, someone would just hide it in the chilli, like some lazy kid sweeping dust under the rug? "Oh, I was looking for that. My bad. Can I go on my lunch break now?" I've worked in fast food restaurants before and trust me, no one is that stupid or high, though barely, to just ignore the fact they've chopped off the tip of their finger.

Haven't people like Eric Schlosser and the people who produce Frontline and many, many others been telling us for years about the dangers of the meat processing industry and how fast food comes with its own risks? And yet, we continue to ignore them. We eat at MickeyDs and all of the other joints while ignoring all of the warnings and ignoring everything we suspect is true.

Since the publication of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair in 1906, little has changed for meatpacking workers; those folks who help put the cheeseburgers in your kid's Happy Meals. In fact, it's worse, because production speeds have increased, making meat processing more dangerous. Today, meatpacking jobs are among the most dangerous jobs in America, up there with armored truck drivers and 7-11 cashiers. Losing a finger is the least of your worries if you work processing meat. In fact, losing arms, losing your mobility, and losing your life are more common. Many, if not most, workers are immigrants and/or poor, who lack higher education or mastery of the English language, and who are often divided by culture and race. The employers often use this to their advantage in crushing efforts of the workers to organize a union. Many times, they break the law and fire union organizers while the federal government turns a blind eye. Some meat processors run fiefdoms where workers are harassed, and even jailed, for organizing by the company's own private police force.

These working conditions wouldn't be unusual if they were occurring in Central America or Southeast Asia (you know, where your clothes come from) but the reality is that they occur everyday in our own little Third World in the First World, that area of America we call "The South", where Boss Hogs and Cooters have been knocking workers' heads in the name of profit since those workers were in bondage. But neither do we have to go far into the nether regions of cornbread eaters and Bible-Belt beaters, when in our own backyard, farm workers and food processors suffer the same fate, especially if they are "illegal". But why even stop there? Just look into the kitchen of any restaurant in America and you'll see the same type of low-paying exploitation going on.

Our food prices are kept low, and profits for the bosses are kept high, because we skimp on treating people fairly, and we don't need to be given the finger from Wendy's to know it.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

If reading Fast Food Nation did not cure me of that driving-up-I5-stop-at-Wendys, this sure did. No more fast food ever. Just can't do it. Even if it is finger lickin good.


8:58 AM  

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