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.