I worked at McDonald's for 2 1/2 years. Over the years, I was forced to do some things that I didn't really want to do. But there were some things that I actually ENJOYED. Or thought that I would enjoy. This is something that I thought that I would enjoy.
Our store had two McDonald's costumes: One Grimace and one Birdie. Our store manager came in one day and asked for volunteers to head over to the summer school where classes were being held for the mentally handicapped kids. I was all over that action. I'd never worn a big suit before, but I thought it would be a lot of fun. I kept thinking that until I had to put it on.
I was chosen to be Grimace and we headed over to the school. Turns out the suit had most recently been in a parade. And it had been raining that day. And apparently, there was no money in the budget for dry cleaning the suit after this rainstorm, because it smelled like it had been in a mildewy basement for the last couple months. It also turned out that someone had lost the rings that fit inside the suit that gave Grimace his pleasing conical shape. I was about to become the most anorexic Grimace in history.
We trooped into the nurse's office at the school to put our costumes on. Kelly, the girl who got to be Birdie, was laughing at me the whole time because her suit was just fine. I had to safety pin the big purple legs to my pants and the weight was almost too much. I needed help hefting the enormous head and purple body over my shoulders. By this time, I was starting to understand that this had been a really bad idea.
We started walking toward the first classroom and the non-ventilated mildew air started to stagnate inside the costume. Slowly (ever so maddeningly slowly) the eyes of the suit started to fog up. After a few minutes, I was a walking purple blind man. My boss had to lead me around by the hand.
The kids loved it, though. I felt weird that they were hugging my legs when I smelled like I'd just crawled out of a dark bog. But they ate it up. I wish I could have seen the looks of joy on their little faces. Maybe that would've made it worth it.
When it was finally over, I started a fumbling 100 yard dash towards the nurse's office to take off the suit. It was then that I experienced the epitome of humiliation: I. Fell. Down. The weight of the suit was too much for me. I couldn't pick myself up off the ground. It happened: I had fallen and I couldn't get up. I imagined elderly women with broken hips stretched out in front of me down the long hallway. I heard the taunting echoes of my coworkers. I heard the coos of sympathy from my friends and family. And then my boss came up.
He looked at me for a minute and then just started laughing. He laughed harder than I had ever heard him laugh before. His laughter rubbed like liquid sarcasm into the gaping abyss of my wounded pride. To this day, I will never forgive the man who did not help. Then Kelly/Birdie came up and started laughing too. They finally helped me up and down to the nurses office. I took the thing off and just stood there for a few minutes breathing the sweetest air I'd ever smelled.
I smiled triumphantly.
It was finally over.
I guess the moral of the story is that you should never really trust someone when they ask for volunteers.
You should just back away slowly and show no fear.
They can smell fear.