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Boston, McDonalds and iPhone

It was early evening last night when I slipped into the McDonald's across the street from my Boston hotel.  Inside it was pandemonium. The half dozen young women behind the counter serving customers were having a fierce argument.  As the words — an ebonics spiced stew of english and spanish — flew back and forth and the volume increased, the scene before me resolved into a surreal tableau. The patrons standing in a circle, waiting in front of the counter for their food. The three young women behind the counter, abusing each other as they tossed burgers and fries into bags and then at the patrons. The young lady working the drive through window chatting on her cell phone, until her two ghetto clad sparks saunter into the store enticing her to abandon her post to kiss them both before they sit, sipping on the legitimacy conferring cokes that allow them to continue to admire her from afar. The manager, forced to work cash, shouts at his young charges to get back to work.

Throughout it all, the patrons stood silent… each glued to a cellular phone, mostly BlackBerry Pearl and Sidekick, wordlessly tapping out short messages to friends and lovers far away from the chaos of the store unfolding in front.

Reflecting on this moment as I exited the store 15 minutes later, I realized that you could never repeat this scene in Canada.  Not because of the people, or the environment.  No, because of the phones.  Throughout the chaos of the moment, children (and yes they were) merrily tapped out messages and chatted on cell phones that are prohibitively expensive — either for the phone or the plan — in Canada.

And we expect to see iPhone?  Give me a break.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Peter Childs October 30, 2007, 3:48 am

    We in Canada are not well served by our regulators – who often seem more interested in company interests than citizens.

    It's not just the CRTC – which could do things to foster competition, – which results in lower pricies and more innovative offerings everywhere it happens, but doesn't.

    Food inspection is the same – with recent stories of inspection processes that should keep us safer but in reality have to be rubber stamps because of staffing. Health, where reports of drug effects are not public – and of course with security regulators – where companies and individuals can be convicted in the US while here they are still examining whether action is even required.

    In the short term Canadian consumers suffer – in the longer term even the companies do – because while business elsewhere have learned to compete. and implimented business processes to profit in more competative environments – Canadian business hasn't.

  • Mum October 30, 2007, 7:33 am

    I must have missed something in this story. Does anyone care about manners, service to the public (i.e. giving the customers their greaseballs in a timely manner)? I would have been out of there in 2 minutes fearing for my safety! Why would we want more cell/iphones if public places deteriorate into pandemonium? I hope the powers that be keep the prices high so that I can navigate in public without being assaulted with other peoples arguments, conversations, tapping out, etc.!

  • Alec October 30, 2007, 7:41 am

    Ma – the women behind the counter weren't chatting on the phones. What I found remarkable was that the customers were so engrossed in their phones that they were ignoring the whole scene.

  • MGU October 30, 2007, 10:12 am

    Hello Alec, I got your point! I hear Boston is a great place.

    Cell phones have their place, I suppose – they could be useful in emergencies, but on the whole I don't like'em. Nasty contraptions!

    The basic McDonald's hamburger and fries is not too bad, and McDonald's is a fun place to take kids. On the whole tho' its an uncivilised place to eat.

    We can't halt "progress", but I hope Canada can resist more cell phones and more McDonald's for a little longer.

    Love, Dad

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