Chicago Board of Trade

Playland for Asses

I wonder what it’s like to be part of the 9 or so percent who think they are part of the 1 percent but don’t want to admit they are part of the 99 percent?

I guess to deal with the ambiguity of your situation, you throw toss down copies of applications for jobs at McDonalds to Occupy protesters in Chicago. This is exactly what traders at the Chicago Board of Trade did last week. In a move straight from American Psycho, the snitty traders betrayed their true class. Sure, they aren’t even remotely destitute; they probably are in the high wage earning category; but the 1%…. I don’t think so. If you are in the 1% you don’t know how to run a photocopier. Didn’t you learn that when Daddy Bush was amazed by the grocery scanner, “indistinguishable from magic” he muttered as he thrust forth a gouty toe to be massaged.

I think perhaps this frothy mouthed group; the working gatekeepers for the 1% may be the most tragic of all the subspecies in our “classless” society. They presumably have been exposed to the rabble in one way or another, perhaps in small doses, and they don’t want anything to do with them. It’s frightening to the core of their egos, I suppose. Perhaps they truly do feel exalted by their important daily trades. Have they found a way to package pork bellies into some kind of toxic financial derivative? I hope so, at least in that manner the actual product would resemble its disgusting virtual value.

A week or so before, they were putting signs up in their windows stating: “I am the 1% and I am paying for this.” If by paying for this they mean they are dribbling paltry taxes that go to the overkill from police departments to protect their interests…. Yeah, they might be paying for that. And a damn good deal it is for them, too.

But they think that it’s clever to mock the rabble; get a job at McDonalds! What if someone wants to drop copies of Fight Club where they dine? It’s not my fault if a surly kitchen worker with Hepatitis A decides that hand washing is overrated as he prepares your asshole chow. Don’t these trader types ever think about the consequences of their actions — on both the financial stability of the world as well as the cleanliness of their own food? They rely on how many people a day to service their lazy needs? And then think that they can mock the many? Perhaps they think just avoiding McDonalds is enough to protect them. I doubt that, though. They underestimate the seething contempt. Think of that recent waitress tale: the story goes… a Microsoft worker left her no tip, and also obligingly wrote on the receipt “you could stand to lose a few pounds.” Helpful, that one. It seems she figured out who the guy was (since he paid with a credit card — brilliant that one) and posted a wanted photo of sorts of him on facebook; sadly, though, I think she put up someone else’s photo. I don’t encourage that kind of collateral damage, but it’s an early attempt at a food service worker rebellion. These things will undoubtedly be messy in the initial stages.

I felt a pang on guilt upon hearing that they were mocking the jobs at McDonalds. I can imagine few less thankless positions out there. And if this is where our jobs growth is coming from, well, that’s just sad when pork belly traders dine on well, not pork bellies. I should come clean and admit that most likely I am banned from a local McDonalds.

I hate that they peddle unhealthy food on practically every street corner. But here’s the thing: In the Midwest it gets pretty cold, right? Sometimes when trapped indoors, with say, an energetic child, said child can get stir crazy, winter nuts, cabin fever — all of that. These awful McMasterminds came up with those Playland things. A spot that kids can hop and jump and slobber and hopefully the parents fuel this with Happy Meals. Last winter I succumbed, and took my then 3 year old daughter there, hoping she would burn off some energy. I wondered, am I sticking it to the man if I just let her play there without buying any food? I decided to try that.

I let her enter the play area watching from below. These things have many tiers, tubes with impromptu Lord of the Flies reenactments here and there. My daughter played happily, worming through the tubes like a deranged mole. Time passed slowly, I think it may have even gone backwards for a bit, and finally I decided it was time to leave. I yelled up for her to come down. Suddenly she became panicked. “I don’t know how to get down!” “Just go down the way you came up!” I implored other kids to help, but they weren’t interested and answered me in Spanish.

Then my daughter yells out, “But I have to go to the bathroom!” “Then PLEASE just come down!” She looked to be trapped, unable to push past kids blocking the exit. I stared helplessly up at her. “This is ridiculous!” I went to the enclosed tower of steps, thinking I could just peek in enough to yell for kids to clear the exit. I yelled, but nobody seemed able to hear me. I inched up to the second tier. I fit, but I don’t think these things were made for 5’7” kids. I yelled up again and at that moment turned my head. There is no more awkward eye contact between humans than that of a woman in a McDonalds playland second story looking out the bubble window at a normal man trying to decide whether or not to allow his kid in the thing.

I was so humiliated that I inched my ass out of the tower, backing out into the open area. My daughter was still on that third tier, but now happily playing. “Please, tell them to move, come down!” She smiled at me. “I don’t have to go to the bathroom anymore!”

Suddenly everyone spoke English and the collective shunning was horrible. And she still wouldn’t come down. I had to get out of this place. Right or wrong, I was going to leave that urine and escape, hopefully with my daughter. Of course now it was completely impossible to enlist the help of other children to talk her down. They didn’t want to get near urine kid.

I think I started crying and another mom felt sorry for me. She forced her older child into urine kid reconnaissance. We fled, walking faster when the employee heard about the urine on the third tier.

What does this all mean? Probably what I’m trying to say is that the nasty guys at the Chicago Board of Trade should be put on urine duty at the local McDonald’s Playland.

Kathleen Wallace Peine welcomes reader response. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Kathleen.