April 23, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 224
Fast Food Terrorism
Parental "Promise" Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, April 23-- If you've ever
been to a Macy after holiday super sale, you know what Terrorism
is all about. People grabbing items, shoving, growling
deep from their primal guttural gullets to ward off others trying
to reach over them and snatch away the ultimate retail marked-down
Or, perhaps you've been on a windy street and an armored car
crashed, spewing out hundred dollar bills from torn money bags,
and if that's not enough, you're in a refugee camp starving
and a McDonald's or Burger King truck pulls up and starts throwing
Big Mac's and Whoppers into the crowd of
What if you don't
get you're fair share?
What if everyone
got something from each of these scenarios but you?
The Fast Food
Terrorism Conspiracy is similar to the above illustrations,
but far more insidious in its impact.
It seems the
Fast Food Conspiracy is bent on turning strong, confident parents
into sniveling beggars, failing to perform their acts of Parental
Vigilance in behalf of their children. At least, that's
the way I view intent. And, to be more specific, it's
how my wife has become Terrorized by their plan to whittle away
at our grandchildren's confidence in her as a Sentinel of Vigilance.
It's all about toys, gifts,
Since the fast food chains
promote "fast fat food"--non-nutritional globs of
potentially E.coli-laced food quickly prepared in unhealthy
grease to sate the appetite at low cost-- they need something
to mollify the wastefulness of their food and at the same time
glamorize themselves as "The Sentinel of Food Champions"
in the kid's minds.
There's hardly anything healthy
about fast food, that's why it taste so good. And, it's
manned by unskilled employees who have to have signs and penalties
to force them to wash their hands so after they blow their nose
or go to the bathroom their germs don't contaminate the food
and foul the stomachs of millions of patrons.
But that's not what this story is about.
It's about a far more vicious form
of Terrorism than contaminated food, or non-nutritional food
supplements for children.
As I said, it's about toys.
Our experience started with Peter Pan.
To lure the kids into the store over
and over, Happy Meals are sold at McDonald's. Inside a
Happy Meal is a toy, usually something current to promote a
movie such as the recent release of the remake of Peter Pan.
The latest traffic generator the marketing
departments dreamed up was to offer a Peter Pan ship.
It came in various parts. You get one Happy Meal
and you get one of the Peter an characters and the bow. You
get another Happy Meal and you acquire another character and
the stern. Yet another store offers you the midship, and
so on, until you have the entire cast and the ship that
Peter Pan and Captain Hook found a great stage for launching
But, try to find all three pieces.
When the promotion came out, Lori,
my wife and the grandkids' G-Ma, promised to acquire all the
elements. However, such a pledge turned out
to be a Terrorizing ordeal in which she failed miserably to
complete the set.
Frustrated, she went from McDonald's
to McDonald's to try and find all the pieces, ready, willing
and able to purchase useless Happy Meals to fulfill her vow
to her loving grandchildren waiting for G-Ma to deliver.
The problem is the Happy Meals
come with plastic bags hiding the toy within. You have
to rip it open to see what's inside, and once the bag is opened,
you cannot exchange it. You have to buy another Happy
Meal. And, the toys aren't sold separately.
Hunting down the right McDonald's that
carries the right toy part in New York City is like trying to
find a block where there isn't a panhandler sticking an empty
cup in your face asking for a quarter to feed his starving family.
Of course, as you are hunting for the
missing pieces you see other little children walking out of
McDonald's with their set complete, and you feel like a utter
failure, a loser, a bearer of false promises when you rush to
the counter only to find the store is giving away with Happy
Meals the piece you already have.
Once, G-Ma asked a little boy's
mother if she could buy his midship. The boy clutched
his Peter Pan ship to his chest, reading the frustration in
G-Ma's eyes and the possibility that shown there suggesting
she might rip it from his clutches and dash down the street--turned
into an unarmed toylifter. She was refused, even when
she offered to buy the boy two Happy Meals for one mid ship
piece. In yet another frenzied attempt to acquire the missing
piece of ship, she actually purchased three Happy Meals. One
more time, there were none of the treasured toys in any
of the bags. She generously gave the takeout food
to street bums.
Just when the promotion for Peter Pan was waning and G-Ma was
defeated, up pops Ice Age.
This time it's Burger
King's turn to torment G-Ma.
Again, she rushes from
one Burger King to another, this time her head is lowered in
a threatening manner, kind of like a mommy duck warning everyone
in her path to not mess with her ducklings. They say the
worse kind of death is being bitten to death by ducks, and anyone
looking in G-Ma's pinpoint blue Germanic eyes would see she
was not a "mamma to mess with."
Burger King after
Burger King netted characters from Ice Age that had little to
do to appease her promise to get the dominant characters--the
woolly mammoth, the saber-toothed tiger, the sloth.
She kept acquiring secondary characters, wart hogs and rhinos,
while nice, certainly not the "prize" for her kinders.
Her Terror was heightened
when our five-year-old grandson's upper lip began to curl and
quiver and tears streamed down his eyes as he looked at the
non-descript character and sobbed, "But, G-Ma, you promised
the saber toothed tiger."
Of course G-Ma knows
better than to promise anything to the kids for fear of breaking
such a promise and leaving a trail of broken promises that would
mar her credibility as a Grandparent of Vigilance, but often
the children hear the "I'll do my best to get you the saber
toothed tiger" as "I promise on my life, on my credibility
as your grandmother, and one who loves you so deeply that I'll
get that damn cat toy no matter who or what stands in my way."
It isn't that kids say the darnedest
things, it is that they "hear the darnedest things."
Frustrated trying to find the toys
in Burger King's version of McDonald's Happy Meal, she finally
went to the Walt Disney store to just buy one. Ooops.
She didn't find the sought after toys but she did find out that
the Ice Age Movie is not a Walt Disney production.
Nonplussed, G-Ma marched to FAO Schwarz with no luck.
At Toys R Us, a diligent salesman told her that Burger King
bought up all the rights for the toy production and if
you want a saber toothed cat, you've gotta order lots of "Happy
Meals" ala Burger King.
Now, to help celebrate Disney's 100
year Anniversary. McDonald's is offering most of the Disney
characters. Oh, what a mess that is when the kids open
their "gifts" and their faces turn from high expectation
to utter Complacency. Our granddaughter tried not to show
how upset she was when she opened the crab from The Little Mermaid.
She had her heart set on either Mulan or Snow White.
See, I think Osama bin Laden is plotting with the marketing
departments of the fast food chains to Terrorize the credibility
of parents and grandparents in the eyes of their children.
If the children see their parents and
grandparents as abject failures in delivering the "goods,"
they will then seek someone who "really cares."
I've often waited for the day Osama bin Laden drives down Avenue
A in a convertible with a big sign on the side: "Osama
loves little children," throwing out saber toothed tigers
and midships for Peter Pan boats.
Winning the hearts of children can
be as easy as giving them what they want.
Once the Terrorist has them in his
clutches, he twists their thinking from peace and harmony into
Terrorism, promoting capitalism and modern technological society
is out to "get them" by offering toys they cannot
deliver. He tells them he has real guns and real bombs
they can play with, ones that go "boom" and can obliterate
anything near it, including people they don't like.
Obviously, he doesn't
tell them he stockpiled all the best toys to shrink the market
and give himself power over their parents. Or, that
he gets his money to support his Terroristic activities from
capitalism, or, that he doesn't allow fast food chains in his
Seduced by the wiles of
bin Laden's false claims they will find a land of endless toys
at McDonald's and Burger King that parents and grandparents
can't find, the misguided children follow him to Terrorist
Training Camps, where, he claims as any good Pied
Piper, there awaits a land of milk.
Now, you might think the
above scene a little absurd. But, when a child is
reduced to tears over not getting an expected toy, and, a grandmother
is driven bonkers racing all over town to attempt to get an
advertised toy, there is obviously something terrible going
A child thrives on parents' and
grandparents' promises. A child also is crushed
by the failure of those promises to blossom.
As a child my parents threw out
cheap promises to sate my hunger to have things I wanted.
It was easy for them to say, "I promise I'll do that for
you, or get you that, but not now, later."
Later never came in most instances.
Instead, I would wait for the
promise to develop, and when other promises came out of their
lips, I recoiled. I began to suspect their lips
as false. Why would they lie? Why would they crush
my expectations? Why would they make me think I was important,
and then ignore me?
Raising our children, my wife and I
agree to avoid the use of the word "promise" with
our children. "We'll see. I can't promise
anything, but there is always a possibility. And, if that doesn't
happen, perhaps something else will."
I even went so far as to explain to
them why I avoided the word promise. I told them my parents
had promised me many things, and when they didn't happen, or
they forgot to keep their promise, I was hurt.
And I told them I didn't want to hurt them by making them think
I was going to do something and then not do it.
I told them the best I could was to try and remember, try and
fulfill an obligation, but if I didn't, it wasn't because I
didn't love them, it was because I had gotten selfish and self-centered
and put myself first."
I was big on reality training,
not just for my children, but for myself. That didn't
mean I used such explanations to justify not doing things for
the children. Quite frankly, my concern for not promising
anything enhanced my ability to do things for them, to stuff
my selfishness in favor of their needs. What I didn't
want was their image of me as a father, or my wife as a mother,
to be based on the delivering or non-delivering of promises.
The only real promise, I told them, was that I would love them
no matter what, even if they didn't think I did.
I believe too many children's
feeling of loneliness and alienation from their parents comes
from dashed promises. It is so easy for a
parent to bend to a child's demand for something with a promise,
and just as easy for a parent to forget that promise in the
hectic melee of life's demands.
To fully comprehend the
Terrorism of broken promises, one only needs to travel back
in time to when one was a child. Focus on broken
promises between yourself and your mother and father, or your
loved ones. Let your mind flow through them and
realize how jagged the edges are of childhood resentments that
you were led down a false path.
Extend that thinking into teenage years.
Remember the promises made by parents and friends, boyfriends
and girlfriends that were broken, neglected, forgotten or misused.
Travel forward farther to adulthood.
Take relationships and think through the litter of broken promises
and the devastation they imposed on your emotional well-being.
Think about your job and the boss who
promised you this or that and then forgot or recanted the promise
and left you feeling abandoned, stranded, shipwrecked on a lonely
barren island of unfulfilled expectations.
Marriage is another battleground of ravaged promises, pacts,
vows mutilated and masticated by one party ignoring them, forgetting
them, not upholding them while the other clings to them as though
they were gospel.
And finally, think about the promises
you have broken to yourself. The ones about losing weight,
or exercising, or changing various behaviors, or seeking more
happiness than sadness, or vowing to "never do that again"
until you do it again and find yourself helplessly trapped in
your own self-imposed Terrorism of falsifying your own self-will.
Now, think about a promise to your
As the word "promise" passes
over your lips, use the history of your own experience with
promises to decide whether you want to amend the word, to alter
it so that it won't be used as a band-aid to quickly assuage
the expectations of your child.
Promises are nothing more than Terrorism's
booby traps. If they go unfulfilled, they
explode in a child's mind, destroying the faith and confidence
in the one who issued it, chipping at the integrity of you as
a Sentinel of Vigilance, a protector and guardian of your offspring's
sense of fairness.
Unfulfilled promises create Fear, Intimidation
and Complacency in a child, as well as in an adult.
The equation usually equals--"You can't really love me
or you would have kept your promise to me."
What greater Terrorism is there
than feeling "unloved?"
President Bush promised to rid
the world of Terrorism. Look at him. He's
straddling a razor blade. If people view him as
the "Father Of The Nation" and he doesn't fulfill
his promise, he will destroy a major portion of his credibility.
Politicians issue promises as though they were candy.
Their goal is to get the "instant vote." After
they are elected, they find that the promise they made cannot,
in many cases, be fulfilled. Their intent initially
might have been good, but if they can't deliver, then what?
We lose confidence in them as a "leader." We
It takes Vigilance to not
promise a child, or, for that matter, anyone. It
takes a lot more Courage to face up to the fact you're human,
and may not be able to make your promise come true, and to tell
whomever: "I'll do my best, but I can't promise anything."
It takes Conviction to
pursue one's commitment to "do their best," realizing
that "doing one's best" is in and of itself a promise
that one must keep not to the child or other person, but to
one's self. It becomes a Pledge of Internal Vigilance
rather than an external placebo to quell the demands of another.
Finally, one must act on
one's Conviction for there to be any sense of attempt to fulfill
any obligation. Such action may result in one of
two things--achieving the goal or failing to achieve it.
In either case one can look the other person in the eye and
say, "I tried."
So the next time you are lured into a Fast Food Terrorism establishment
by the "promise" of a "free gift," be wary
of the Trojan Horse of Terrorism.
Inside that little package
might be a test of Vigilance. When the kids open it and
stare at you with sad eyes and quivering lips because the toy
they wanted isn't the one they got, try and stifle the promise
to "fix their pain." If anything, tell them
you'll try your best.
And, be also wary of those
who promise you things. It could be Osama bin Laden
in disguise as the head of the marketing department for McDonald's
or Burger King.
Go To April 22--The First Terrorist