Would you like loud music with those fries?

Call us cranky, but here at BoomerCafé, we really like this piece by New York City executive and essayist Bob Brody. Let’s just cut through the noise and let you read it yourself. He calls it, Would You Like Loud Music With That?

So I’m minding my own business drinking coffee the other morning in New York, at the McDonald’s on Continental Avenue in Forest Hills, Queens. And I’m all ready to perform a somewhat unnatural act — namely read a book.

Except the staff is blasting music through the whole place. At six a.m. And I mean blasting. I know loud when I hear it, and this was unmistakably high-decibel stuff.

So I approach the counter and ask the woman I’m told is the manager — as politely as I know how — if she could please lower the music. She promptly says she will. For a second I experience the relief that comes from a grievance redressed.

But the music stays just as loud.

So I ask the manager again, once again mustering all the courtesy at my command. She says, insistently, that she already lowered it. Only now she’s taking a tone. And that tone is something other than hospitable.

And then she says, “You’re the only one complaining.”

Ouch. She’s calling me out. Clearly, if I read her right, I’m the one who’s the problem here.

I say, “For all you know, every customer in here feels the same as I do.”

So I go around the place to take a poll among the customers. And as it turns out, three out of the four customers present agreed the music was too loud. Majority rule!

Bob Brody

So I notify the manager of my highly scientific research findings. Only now she’s trying a new approach. She’s going to ignore me. She keeps her back to me, saying nothing.

So I do something I hate to do, but feel I have to do. I have no interest in making trouble for people who happen to work at McDonald’s; I figure they already have more than enough problems. But I tell her I’ll be alerting her higher-ups at McDonald’s Corp.

Whether she hears me – or cares – I have no idea. I just wish she understood something crucial here. Without customers she would have no job.

I also wish she understood something else. The world is already loud enough. In New York City, we have loud literally coming out of our ears. Honking. Jackhammers. Subways. Noise control is a near-impossibility here. Do the places where we go for coffee at six in the morning really need to add loud music to the menu?

Bob is the author of the memoir, “Playing Catch with Strangers: A Family Guy (Reluctantly) Comes of Age.”


  1. Interesting post. No offense intended, but one might assume, given your insistence on mannered public behavior, that you were a conservative. I am, BTW. I wish we had conserved some of our traditions and public behaviors going back to the sixties. But, actually, we boomers were responsible for a lot of them going away. Remember, ‘if it feels good, do it?’ and other baby boomer platitudes (why don’t we do it on the road?) Anyway, yeah, I’m ‘down with ya dude.’ I cringe when I hear young people, especially females, dropping the f-bomb repeatedly, people who throw trash on the street and keep on walking, people who run you off the road rather than let you in when your lane ends, and other ‘shit like that,’ as moderns would say. But that’s the world that we have now. I remember in the mid-sixties dressing up in a sport jacket to go to downtown Philly to listen to music or go to a movie. Nowadays I don’t go to movies ’cause people are apt to be talking in the row behind you, or taking a call on their cell. We’ve gotten to the point that we have learned to tolerate bad public behavior, and if you don’t, if you tell that person that just threw their McDonald’s trash on the sidewalk that they ‘dropped something,’ you might be in for an assault, now called a ‘beatdown.’ Had a few of them myself, helped turn me in the conservative direction.

    Anyway, sorry to wax negative, but we sleep in a bed we made or didn’t make. We boomers came into a world shaped for us by people who had values, were religious, hard-working, respectful (yeah, I know there was prejudice and other bad things), and the people who brought us into the world had very recently ‘saved it,’ the greatest generation, by fighting tooth and nail to push back the Japanese Imperial forces and the Nazis. And what did we do with that world…. we let it slip through our fingers, ’cause, only squares, or angry white men, or conservatives would complain about poor public behaviors and such.

    Have a wonderful day!

  2. “especially females”? The sixties was also when the feminist movement got its start. Apparently you never got the message.

    1. Chela, ‘especially females’ in the sense that women have always been the civilizing influence on society. But not anymore. It always shocks me when I hear young women dropping F-bombs right and left. Because of modern feminism, some women have lost their way.

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