A travesty occurred on October 6th of last year, and we all sat around and accepted it. On that fall day of 2015, McDonald’s unveiled the all-day breakfast menu and together we took one really long, sad collective sigh of relief. Now there was one less reason to wake up in the morning. I’ll even say I was excited at first, but now it just feels wrong. I don’t need much motivation to stay in bed longer, as my brain already punishes me for my unpredictable sleep pattern.
Nevertheless, like the true masochist it is and always has been, prior to the announcement, my stomach both rejoiced and grimaced when I woke up before 10:30 a.m. McDonald’s breakfast could be had. Sometimes that would be enough to make me put on pants. It was a little a jolt to start the day, a race against time, as my stomach and I sang songs of joy as we traveled to the nearest drive through. He’d whisper his need for an Egg McMuffin, decent cup of coffee, and a formerly frozen hashbrown, and I would pat him fondly, approving his order.
Before October 6, 2015, you had to want it. Sometimes I’d even go inside and see the other folks who had made it out in time. Their faces would tell me whether they were also seeking a similar sense of food humiliation or wanted to treat themselves before a brutal day of work. I’ve been on both sides of that.
At the raw age of 19, I worked as a landscaper under a man who would often change his name. First he introduced himself as Paul, then Three Crows, then Paul Three Crows, then Abdula (he said an imam named him that because it meant “Slave of God”). All I knew is that he was a paunchy bald white Irish guy with a gin blossom enveloping his face. Supposedly he’d stolen a barrel of eagle feathers from a nearby Indian reservation, a federal crime. Nobody ever found those feathers.
When he challenged my weak disposition by saying we’d work in the rain a few mornings, McDonalds breakfast was there for me. I might’ve been wet and muddy, but I got to chow down on some sausage burritos and McDonald’s watery picante sauce. Still better than a desk—maybe. Those mornings were special. Not because I was working with a dude whose name could be almost anything, but because I moved rocks and dug holes really early in the morning while eating mediocre sausage burritos. Sometimes I’d even take a bite and carry a rock at the same time—you can do that with a burrito!
There were also the early mornings before flights when I popped by a drive-through or the airport McDonalds and ate one of their bagel sandwiches. Never eat a steak, egg, and cheese on a flight. That sinking feeling is your body purging regret and panic as quickly as it can, and you don’t want to explore that to its logical conclusion 45,000 feet in the air.
We’re now a couple months short of a year since the sad announcement of October 6, 2015, and it looks like this move, like every business decision the company seems to make, isn’t helping McDonalds any. I’m in no rush to wake up and make my way there anymore. There’s no fun in early morning McDonalds. Now eating their bagels, McGriddles, or flapjacks is just a really unhealthy meal. The only certainty they provide is that my stomach is going to be punching itself in the face in an alarmingly short amount of time.
Call me old fashioned, but I just want to go back to the time when lunch was lunch and breakfast was breakfast—and then sometimes breakfast was dinner. But I fear we’ll never go back. This is now the world we live in. Breakfast all day and all the time: we never even considered the consequences. If only McDonalds understood the power it was wielding: That breakfast is too precious to be had at three o’clock in the afternoon—our palates and ego cannot handle that wellspring of grease and self-loathing. You thought you were being nice, McDonalds, but reality is much too cruel.