Wednesday, February 08, 2006

McDonald's II

On a bustling commercial street, the city's main Starbucks was strategically located across from McDonald's, a narrow, two-story space sandwiched between a myriad of other nondescript businesses by comparison. The double doors were framed by two sets of table and chairs, one on each side. Despite the cold, a number of Western tourists sat and sipped a combination of iced and frozen drinks outside.

Apple crumble caramel muffin. Sausage and mashed potato danish.

The outward facing wall held the standard coffee counter that has become a familiar throughout the world. Inside, a pair of tables mirrored the outside pair. A path along the counter was cordoned off with thick, velvet rope segments hanging between a series of black waist-high stands. People channeled through efficiently sterilizing the comfort that usually comes from the chaos of crowds jockeying for position closer to the counter.

French tuna sandwich. Fruit and vegetable cup.

The main seating area was on the second floor, at the top of a wide, concrete staircase that spiraled squarely through a semi-circle. The room was crowded. And hot. Twenty-six Celsius, eighty Fahrenheit, according to the thermometer that hung suspended on a brass hook over the trash banister. A pair of clerks stood by surveying the area, spending most of their energy continuing their conversation to avoid the work of collecting cups and cleaning tables.

Carrot walnut pound cake. Smoked beef tenderloin sandwich.

The chairs and furniture had a familiar look, fashioned of light maple and Starbucks mahogany finish. Though, certain details were reminders of the location within a developing country. Thin, plain white paper napkins with no logo. The mermaid shapes covering the tables were misshapen and deformed, missing part of an arm or half of a tail. The logo on the sugar packets seemed unusually large and off center. The track lighting illuminated the room almost too well, making these imperfections more evident.


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