#039;McJob,#039; how about #039;Mcplease#039;

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

I'd like to think we have grown as a society, slowly inching away from hate crimes. However, in this country which has been labeled "the great melting pot," I have noticed intolerance seems to be forever present, even if by a select group of closed-minded individuals. And sometimes the verbal crimes can be just as hurtful as the physical acts of violence. Why must people try to keep a person or group of people down through slander, only to try to empower and boost their own lives? I continue to struggle with this question on nearly a daily basis, because there is always some comment or suggestion of discrimination in our society. So, when I heard about Merriam-Webster's addition of the term "McJob" to its most recent edition earlier this week, I sighed and clenched my teeth.

McJob is defined as "low paying and dead end work." Not only was I disgusted by the definition, but I was also a little hurt. One of my first jobs was working in the fast-food industry, and I learned a lot of useful skills that I carry with me today.

First and foremost, I learned to work under pressure. There was hardly a day that passed in the job where I didn't have a line of hungry customers, eager to have their lunch or dinner quickly, and return to work or their daily lives. Although the type of pressure I deal with in the newspaper industry is different in many ways, it follows the same essential principle.

Another key job-survival skill I learned was communication. How can someone work with others if that person can't communicate with them? I learned how to converse with people from all walks of life, and the feeling was nothing short of rewarding. I can't say that I enjoyed working with everyone in the restaurant, but I learned how to work with even those who were difficult. Once again, a valuable lesson was learned.

I can relate to the blow felt by all the 12 million men and women who work in the 900,000 restaurants across America, not only McDonald's. Whether a stepping stone for other career interests or a permanent career, many of the people in the industry take pride in their work. With the inconsiderate error of including the term into the dictionary, Webster's inaccurately labeled and cut-down the pride of many people. The result is really disheartening and inhumane.

I have never been a crusader of fast-food, particularly McDonald's. I believe it is ethically wrong to open their restaurants in hospitals, advertise with sports events while selling unhealthy products, and advertise the products as nutritious.

But just as I have problems with the US military, but support the privates risking their lives; I support the everyday workers at McDonald's, but not the company.

I have struggled with this dichotomy to the point of bordering hypocrisy, because where would the workers be without the company? But I understand the motives of the hard-working employees, because I was one. I don't understand many of the motives of the multi-billion dollar corporation.

My suggestion to Webster's would be to interview the millions of workers in McDonald's and other fast-food chains and to reconsider the definition of "McJobs." The term will be used by people, so it seems, as a potential weapon. The dictionary has the power to shape the English language, but do we really want another derogatory term added to our vocabulary when there seems to be so much hate in society as it is?