Henry David Thoreau walked in to the McDonald’s and stood back from the counter, stroking his long beard and pondering the options provided. He furrowed his bushy eyebrows and approached the register.
“What can I get for you?” the teenager behind the till asked, clearly bored.
“Hmm, well, that’s a good question. I would like some bread and molasses, and a small plate of vegetables if you could.”
“We don’t have molasses, or bread. I could give you a bun, if you want, and a salad.”
He harrumphed, in true old-fashioned style, before acquiescing. The kid went back to prepare the food. Thoreau surveyed the area, seeing the one couple eating burgers (though he wondered how much was actually meat), and talking in hushed tones. The kid returned with his food, tossing it carelessly on to a tray.
“Anything to drink?”
“Ha! Tea if you have it!” he smiled.
“We don’t have tea. We have coffee.”
“Okay, your finest medium roast, please.”
“You know, you could stand to smile once in awhile.”
“Yeah, they don’t pay me for that. Smiles are free, remember?”
“I don’t, but very well! What makes a fine young lad such as yourself work here, anyhow?”
“I needed money. It’s a job.”
“Well, that’s no reason to work here.”
“You can get money anywhere! And for that matter, you don’t really need it, do you? You just want the things it can buy, that’s not a need.”
“I guess so…”
“So, why work here, when you so obviously hate it?”
“Like you said, I want stuff.”
“So do something fun and interesting!”
“I can’t find any other jobs.”
“Then make one! That’s what I did!”
“Well…it doesn’t work like that anymore, old man.”
“Because…because it doesn’t!”
“I bet you could make it work like that, if you wanted. Haven’t you heard of people making something out of nothing?”
“So what’s to stop you?”
“I’m just a kid!”
“Ha! So was I, until I was an old man! And I’m still just a kid. You just have fewer aches! Go do something worthwhile!”
“…okay. Here’s your food.”
“Bah! Fool youngsters, think you know everything, but your worlds are so small!” He took his food and sat down, eating slowly, savouring each bite. He left soon after.
The next day, the kid quit his job, and started working on carving wood to sell at the farmer’s market.