There’s a turf war happening in Flushing, Queens and it ain’t pretty. Like West Side Story’s the Jets and the Sharks, two groups of people want to be in the same place at the same time and sooner or later, somebody’s gonna get hurt. The New York Times is reporting about a group of senior citizens who are overtaking a McDonald’s, brazenly ignoring the “Customers Have 20 Minutes to Finish Their Food” sign and staying for hours on end. The group is of Korean descent and the article says they arrive around 5:00 AM and stay until after dark. If they are the Sharks, then who are the Jets? Well, the Jets would be anyone who would like to sit down at a goddamn McDonald’s but they can’t because the whole restaurant is overrun with wheelchairs, walkers, afghans and olds. The McDonald’s manager has called the police many times on these rebels without a cane because she says that other customers have no place to sit while the Sharks share a small order of fries for hours on end. The police show up, ask them to leave and they shuffle their asses right around the corner and plop back down ten minutes later. According to the article, there are several other places for the group to congregate, including a Korean Community Service Center that has a cafe with 25-cent coffee, but they’d’ rather sit at the McDonald’s. Why? I can only assume it’s the comfortable seating, the flattering lighting and the smell of grease.
Now, I don’t have anything against senior citizens who want to hang out and talk about arthritis and the latest greatest revolution in moth balls, but I can see why McDonald’s is sick of this shit. If other customers who are paying for Big Macs don’t have anyplace to sit, they aren’t going to go there. And if there are ten or fifteen old people sitting in every booth, then customers will move on to the next fast-food hole in the wall and spend their Dollar Menu dollars elsewhere. Truth be told, if this group of seniors is anything like the ones I often encounter on the 7 train, they are probably talking too loudly and pushing people out of the way to get a seat. What is the answer, then? If McDonald’s keeps calling 911, (Really, they called 911. Can you imagine that call? “911, what is your emergency?” “Old people playing mahjong. Hurry!!”) and the cops push them out for loitering but they just return like a pack of roaches, they have to come up with a new plan. And I have it:
The senior Koreans and the McDonald’s employees all meet on neutral turf, the Duane Reade down the street. Once there, they decide that they will fight to the finish and finally decide who gets the rights to the the booths at McDonald’s. Suddenly, an old Korean woman named Maria-Sun-Yung catches the eye of the oldest cashier at McDonald’s, Mr. Toney. Everything around them seems to fade away as they move towards each other, him with a cane and her with the assistance of a motorized cart.
“I’ve never seen you in this neighborhood before. You’re beautiful. My name is Mr. Toney, what’s yours?”
Maria-Sun-Yung cocks her head to the left and says, “Wha???”
“What’s your name?”
“Wha?” Wha? Wha?”
Mr. Toney sings, “Wa-wa-wa. I just met a girl named Wa-wa-wa. And suddenly that name will never be the same to me…”
Officer Krupke bursts into the drug store and breaks up the meeting, but our lovers have had their lives changed forever
Flash forward to two days later and Maria-Sun-Yung and Mr. Toney have fallen madly in love, keeping their relationship a secret, for they are from two different worlds. With the rumble that night, they fear for the lives of their friends but mostly they worry about whether they will get home in time to catch Murder, She Wrote. The rumble is set for 5:00, which is known as the early-bird special and it will happen under the last stop of the 7 train at Main Street. At 4:45 everyone assembles, because old people are always early. Mr. Toney and Maria-Sun-Yung “run” towards each other, when suddenly, Choino, Maria’s former bridge partner, appears out of nowhere and throws a three-day-old cheeseburger at Mr. Toney, making Mr. Toney fall onto the ground and break his hip. Maria is furious. She rolls over to Mr. Toney and tries to reach down from her Jazzy Scooter, but cannot reach him. She can reach the cheeseburger, though. She grabs it and holds it in her hand, staring at Choino.
“Get away from me!” she screams. “Now I can throw cheeseburgers too because now I have hate!”
She threatens to throw the rock-hard cheeseburger, but lets it fall to the ground instead. She sobs as Mr. Toney tries to adjust his body on the cold concrete
“Goddamit, now I’m gonna miss Murder, She Wrote,” he says.
Officer Krupke arrives on the scene and breaks up the disturbance. An ambulance is called for Mr. Toney and Maria-Sun-Yung rides with him to the hospital. The rest of the group, the senior citizens and the McDonald’s employees, disperse and realize that they should all figure out a way to get along. After all, it’s just a McDonald’s and who really gives a fuck?