- Global fast food chain McDonald’s has recently been in the eye of a storm for the “eviction episode”. In Pune, a destitute child was thrown out of one McDoland’s outlet because apparently, “These kind of people are not allowed here.” (source – NDTV)
- The restaurant chain has since apologised for the goof-up, stating that “We wish to affirm that we treasure and respect everyone in equal measure and do not support any form of discrimination.” The restaurant chain has also promised to re-train its employees “where required“.
- Yet what McDonald’s did is far from unusual. Most of us tend to feel uncomfortable eating at a place where there are beggars or destitute people. Some of us feel guilt about enjoying a treat while many around are literally starving. Yet others feel superstitious about having a meal while someone else (particularly someone less fortunate) watches because they fear the ‘evil eye’.
- The fact is that we’d rather not acknowledge our starving, unwashed, unclothed masses. Quite simply it makes us uncomfortable and we don’t want to have to deal with this shameful national reality.
- It goes deeper – there is a classist, castetist, even feudal mindset that many of us remain saddled with. How many of us for instance, still expect the hired help to either stand or sit on the ground rather than sit on the same furniture as us? How many of us still keep separate utensils for them, because they could somehow pollute the ‘better’ ones that we use?
- How many of us have stopped for a roadside meal at a thela and then turned to the owner or the server at the establishment – “isko/inko hatao bhaiya” (remove this person or persons) before we deign to place an order and eat a meal or snack there?
- The fact is that we actually expect places that we patronis,e to be free of “such people”, because the beggar or a poor person there who stared at us with forlorn accusing eyes made us uncomfortable.
- That McDonald’s employee was only doing what he was expected to do; what he may have been told to do several times by customers themselves.
Image – McDonalds Facebook page