McDonald’s. 157th Street and Broadway. 6:45 PM. I’m waiting in line to order a heart-healthy #2 when a large woman walks in, loudly announcing her arrival. “Time to eat, time to eat,” she says and licks her lips as she ponders the Dollar Menu. Unfortunately for her, it’s a notoriously slow McDonald’s. A fast food explosion seems inevitable. Sure enough, she goes off after five minutes. “We waitin’ in this line and you over there makin’ a salad or some gay ass shit.” The manager tries to ignore her. “I’m about to hop this fuckin’ counter and make my OWN damn food.” She elicits a few laughs, a few groans. I’ve been in line with people like this before – angry, obnoxious people who want everyone to know who’s in charge. It’s hardly a question of geography, either – they live everywhere. In Harlem, though, people don’t say things that they won’t back up.
“What the fuck are you doing?” A confused burger-assembling employee peers from behind her station. Dissatisfied with the wait (and true to her word), the angry customer HAS hopped the counter and HAS begun making her own food. She decided to start with a large soda. “Get out of there!” Removing her sanitary gloves, the employee (let’s call her “Burger Lady” from here on) heads toward the drink dispenser. The salad-making manager appears similarly flustered as he approaches the enterprising customer, but doesn’t curse like Burger Lady. “Ma’am, I’m gonna need for you to get back on the other side of that counter.” Big Mama refuses. “NOW.” He touches her shoulder. This was a mistake.
“DON’T YOU TOUCH ME!” the would-be soda thief screams, pushing Javier (I caught his name tag as he struggled) to the ground. “YOU DO NOT TREAT A CUSTOMER LIKE THAT!” Javier is stunned. The now bigger line is stunned. Burger Lady loses it. She grapples the woman with a fury I will never forget, fully intent on throwing her back over the counter and paralyzing her if necessary. This would be impossible, of course, but her tenacity is kind of inspiring. The big lady resists, striking thunderous blows at Regina (I caught her name tag, too). The line is going nuts. Someone is going to be hospitalized from a McDonald’s fight.
Javier manages to revive himself, though, and quickly diffuses the situation. The women are separated. The line’s collective shoulders drop, disappointed by the lack of bloodshed. All is well… for now. Needless to say, I’m bringing a camera next time.
Ever found yourself in or around the epicenter of a public brawl? What moves did you use? And if you could select one Super Smash Bros. character to tag in, who would it be?