This week in my CEP 817 class we were tasked with being empathetic with the consumers of our future product. In an attempt to prepare us for that, we were assigned the task of talking with someone to hear a story and then try to put ourselves in the story in at lease one other person’s shoes. I immediately thought of the following story that I would get my dad to tell me all the time as a child. I’m hopeful that it is made up, but you never know with my dad. The first part is a condensed version of dad’s account of the incident in question. The next is what I perceive would be Ronald McDonald’s way of explaining the events, while the third is how I would imagine a mother would have seen the events.
One day my brothers and I decided to hop on the train to New Orleans to go to a Mardi Gras parade. We snuck out of the house and down to the tracks just out of view of the train. When it rumbled by, we all ran out and jumped into a box car and rode the fifty miles or so to the city. Once we got there, we wandered around chatting up the girls until we saw Ronald McDonald getting his float ready. There was a McDonald’s close to our house, so I told my brothers to go around the back of the float to grab boxes of the certificates that he had to throw to the folks on the parade route while I distracted him. My brothers snuck around the back and I started hurling insults at the clown making fun of pretty much anything I could think of including mentioning how his mom must be disappointed that her son grew up to be a clown. He jumped off the float cussing at me (better than anything I had come up with) and started chasing me. My brothers grabbed the certificates and I gave him the slip. When we got home that night, we gave dad the certificates. He opened his mouth to ask us where we got them from but thought better of it. We ate McDonald’s for months after that. I’m still struck by just how filthy a mouth Ronald McDonald had. Loveable guy in a suit my a__.
Sir, I realize that my behavior prior to the parade was unacceptable for my role with the company. However, you have to let me explain! I was setting up the float so I could be a blessing to all of those wonderful children and their parents. Yes, I know my language wasn’t a blessing, sir, but please let me finish. I was minding my own business when this kid comes up and starts yelling at me. He called me every name in the book, and I ignored it, sir. I did, but then he brought my mother into it and I … well I snapped I think. I did chase him and I did scream obscenities while I chased him. Yes, sir, I knew there were women and children there. But…he was so nasty towards me. I just couldn’t think straight. I promise it won’t ever happen again. Please don’t replace me!
A Concerned Mom
Dear McDonald’s CEO,
I am writing to you today to express my dismay at the behavior of Ronald McDonald at the Mardi Gras parade that started in Metairie today. The language I heard come from that man’s mouth would have singed your hair. To make it worse, I swear he was trying to catch a boy so he could beat him up. It was the most disgraceful display that I have ever seen. I expect more from your company and Ronald McDonald. I expect you to do something about this outrage immediately! My children were exposed to language I would hope that they would never hear.
A Concerned Parent
From My Point of View
This was a highly amusing story for me as a child, but I had never thought of what it would be like to see it from Ronald’s viewpoint or the view of people standing around. The exercise of putting myself in the others’ shoes allowed me to see in my mind how it must have looked from the different viewpoints of the people involved. As a teacher, it was easiest to think of what a parent would say since I have heard from them off and on for nearing ten years now. It was harder to see it from Ronald’s viewpoint, since I had never thought of him as being a victim. It was a highly illuminating experience.