Update: Part of this post was featured here in The Malay Mail, thanks Sheila!
If I knew my brief encounter with the Prosperity Burger at McDonalds would haunt me forever, I would’ve never made that order. But you know how it can be difficult to predict the future right? It’s much easier to blog about the past, and act like you knew it all along.
However, this story plays itself out quite differently.
Some men say that a woman can tear even the strongest man apart.
But with a prosperity burger?
Well, let’s start this story at almost midnight, on a recent Thursday. A very hungry Thursday. My gut suggested grabbing a prosperity burger from McDonalds (yeah I know, I usually avoid McDonalds, but I was in the mood for beef, and there wasn’t many beefy options at the time).
Little did I know what a horrible choice it would be.
Because it led me to “her”. Yes, her. She was standing right there, behind the McDonald’s counter in her clean white headscarf. Innocent. Her pleasant demeanor invited me to approach her, and initiate the conversation that would change everything.
The deadly order
“One double prosperity burger, just the burger, no fries or drink or any of the other stuff”
Damn her. She accepted my money like a pro. Smiling. Clearly, she has done this before, many times. I didn’t think too much of it, after all, I was in McDonalds paying for a burger. I don’t overthink such things.
Upon handing me my receipt, she said “Duduk dulu.”, smiling. Which means “Sit down, first” in Malay. She didn’t give me much of a choice. Firm but friendly. I obeyed.
Moments later, she passed me my Prosperity Burger, still smiling. But my thoughts were only on the burger. For someone on the brink of starvation, everything looked like food. Her headscarf contained beef patties. Her lips were made of ketchup.
And she fulfilled my desires.
Having an actual burger in my mouth, at the time, was like having my daydreams come to life. Oh it was so, so good.
But funnily enough, something felt wrong.
It didn’t taste right.
I looked at the burger. Seemed fine.
I went for my second bite.
Yummy. OK. MM. Yes. Ok. Hmm. OK. Halt.
Something tastes wrong.
Something IS wrong.
I looked at the burger again.
I knew it.
The edge of reason
What I was holding in my hands completely DISGUSTED ME.
It was actually a SINGLE prosperity burger.
What sort of vilified heartless soul would cheat me of my magic gastronomoment?
Didn’t she know I paid for a DOUBLE prosperity burger?
I was outraged. RM16 for a double burger is silly. Starved senseless boys like me fall for it. But RM16 for a single?
I was back at a counter with a burger in my hand, demanding the additional beef patty I deserved. Deep down, I was hoping she would even let me finish this single AND give me a new double. Then I would have TRIPLE prosperity burger and be a very prosperous guy.
But no. She had other plans.
Smiling of course, she said nothing. Her body language instructed me to instead, give up my single burger. I was hesitant. If I gave her my burger, I would have no burger. What would she want to do with my half eaten burger anyway? I bet she could get plenty of burgers from where she is at.
But after some more of her smiling, and hand gestures, I gave in, and handed her my burger.
I could see her. Holding my burger. Walking behind the trays. She spoke to some dude who I assume is a manager of sorts. Good. She is using my half butchered burger as evidence to give me plenty more burgers. Burgers I deserved. Right? RIGHT? Huh, lady?
But no. Like I said, she had other plans. Involving torture.
The moments which followed happened in slow motion. She would look at me, smiling, then gently look downwards, letting my burger slip out of her hands… I would stretch my arm across the counter shouting “Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakkk….” (“Sister, in Malay. Polite way of referring to “devil woman”)
SLAM DUNK. She friggin threw a PERFECTLY GOOD burger into the bin.
A perfectly good burger HOLY MOTHER.
Sure, it was missing one beef patty. But surely it didn’t deserve the bin? Think about what could’ve been my free burger. Think about the starving African children without prosperity burgers. Wasted. Didn’t she hear me scream? What was she smiling about?
OK. No more Mr.Nice guy.
In perfectly broken Malay I demanded answers:
“Did you just throw the burger away?
Or did you put it in some drawer? Can you take it out? I can still eat it.
It was a good burger. Can you dust it a bit and bring it out for me? You didn’t throw it away, did you? C’mon. Did you throw it away?”
The only response was the same devious smile she so consistently maintained. Mocking me. Her lips no longer reminded me of ketchup. It made me think of blood.
“Duduk dulu”. She ordered me to sit down again, smiling.
Defeated, I went into the corner of McDonals and sulked. She eventually passed me a double prosperity burger (believe me, I checked). I didn’t even look at her, in fear of her safety. Hungry men can do nasty things. I wolfed the burger down and drove off, still grieving over the innocent burger sacrificed at the hands of that… that… heartless beast.
The drive home was a long one.
Between the traffic lights, I fought against my emotions. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. I obeyed, yet I didn’t want to. What’s the point? Why should I listen and obey the social constructs of our ‘civil’ society, when there may be dozens of innocent burgers out there DYING as a result?
Post trauma rationalization
Yes, I know you may be emotionally worked up upon reading this. It is kind of a big deal. That’s OK. I know how you feel. No need to over-react, my dear. Let’s slow down a bit and make sense of the situation.
Times like these are testing.
You question the deeper things.
What’s right and wrong? Was it right for the smiling lady to destroy my burger? Was it wrong for me to feel bad about the incident, despite me getting bonus burger bites at the end of it?
As far as my lawyer friends laughed, there are no statutory laws, landmark cases, or legal implications useful to the situation. Turning our backs against the law, we’re forced to fall back on something equally made-up: our moral compass.
To use this compass, we need to cut our heartstrings from the equation with the reliably sharp broadsword of logic, and invite a special guest onto this episode.
Meet my friend Norman. Normative ethics.
Normative ethics involves arriving at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. In a sense, it is a search for an ideal litmus test of ‘what is proper conduct’ (I stole of all this smart talk from this website, just so you know I am not nearly as smart, or as original as I can sound.)
According to normative ethics, there are 3 ways to (very simplistically) look at, and judge the prosperity burger incident – and who was right and wrong.
1) Virtue Theory
This is where virtues, like values or habits, like wisdom, courage, temperance, justice, generosity, self-respect, etc is called upon to just
ify what is right.
- I cannot describe any good virtues to justify the smiling lady’s waste of my burger.
- My good virtue is ‘Valuing food and not wasting it’
Hence, by virtue theory, I am morally right.
However, some might argue that the lady was protecting me from having too many prosperity burgers (which are clearly bad for me). Perhaps the lady didn’t want me to smell like pepper and onions for a month, or add too many calories to my diet. We need to look at this objectively.
2) Duty Theories
This suggests that all of us have some sort of duty, or obligation. Such as the Golden Rule: “We should do to others what we would want others to do to us.” For example: I shouldn’t spit at babies and young children, if I don’t like being spitted at myself.
She should not throw away my perfectly good burger, in the same way she wouldn’t want me to meet her at home later and throw away her nasi lemak.
Hence, she is morally wrong.
3) Consequentialist Theories
“An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable.” Or “the means justifies the ends”.The most popular form is Utilitarianism: Eg. “It is right if it results in the greater good to the most people”.
The disposal of a perfectly good burger benefited NO ONE. Ok?? NO ONE. However, giving the burger to me would have at least benefited me, right, and consequently my loyal support and positive emotions of gratitude will indirectly benefit her.
Hence giving me the perfectly good burger was morally right.
So there you have it.
A partially fictional (of course I’m not worked up about a friggin burger. Though it was a perfectly good one. A good, edible, burger. A prosperous beefy burger.) moral dilemma thoroughly detailed, debated, and demystified, without any tangible effect on what happened.
Looks like you can’t change the past with
bitching rhetoric after all 😉
Though you can change how you feel about it. And perhaps how you would feel about the future incidents. Right?
You might even ask, how would I deal with a similar situation in the future?
Since you asked. I thought of ordering a DOUBLE prosperity burger, eat one of the patties, and bring it back to the lady and accuse her of giving me a SINGLE. Ha! Take that! But that wouldn’t be morally right, by any moral measure. Oh no. And it probably won’t get her stop smiling either.
Anyways. I’ve been working so hard lately, this blog post really is an absurd satire thingy to entertain myself. Not to be taken too seriously 😉
Hope 2008 has been a great year for you. Here’s to a prosperous new year!