The piece featured below was written by a student in WITS writer Brian Benson‘s residency at Gresham High School in the fall of 2020 and was published in the 2020-21 Literary Arts Writers in the Schools anthology, Curiosity in Ones and Zeros. Sol performed his work at the Portland Book Festival’s WITS Anthology Launch.
An Open Letter to Burger King
by Sol Ramos
Dear Burger King,
So I saw a guy warm my Chicken Jr. in a microwave a few months
back. What’s that all about? I don’t exactly hold your food chain to
the highest standards anyway, but the guy wasn’t even discreet about
it. I saw your commercial about new Whoppers with no preservatives.
But do you let people choose if it has preservatives or not? I’ve
become paranoid and I don’t eat with you anymore. How long was the
sandwich there for? I really thought you could’ve been the one fastfood
place I could always depend on. I ate with you after my seventh
grade science teacher showed me an image of what happens with
a homemade sandwich after three months, and what happens to a
McDonalds sandwich after three months. The homemade sandwich
was molding away and the McDonalds burger was perfectly fine. Purely
traumatizing. But I looked at you with the slightest bit of decency. In
fairness, I never ate the Whoppers, I stuck with the chicken. I figured
that was probably the best way I could eat. I don’t eat at other food
places like Carl’s Jr., Wendy’s, Jack in the Box, etc. I used to just eat
with you and McDonalds. But after the seventh grade science incident
you were the only one I could trust.
For years when I was a little hungry and just wanted a quick bite
to eat, I would stop by to eat in your sparsely populated dining room,
eating a couple of your Chicken Jr. sandwiches, looking out the window
with a gigantic poster blocking my view, your floors stained with who
knows what and the cameras watching each customer. But just like
those cameras, I was watching as well. I looked in the kitchen and
watched as the employee, in full uniform, grabbed a Chicken jJr. and
stuck it in the microwave. I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t mine and
I looked back to see an empty dining room. I knew this had to be my
sandwich. The employee opened the microwave door—he didn’t let it
go off—he set it down on the counter, wrapped up the sandwich, put
it in a little bag and the cashier called my number. I slowly walked up
to the counter, grabbed the bag and I still said thank you. But as I was
sitting down and eating my sandwich I noticed something while I was
chewing. The chicken was a little tough. When did you stop trying?
Did you ever really care?
And then not too long after we get a pandemic, where basically fast
food is what most people have resorted to. You better believe it stings.
It doesn’t help that my brother still likes to eat with you. He orders the
Chicken Juniors too. We have to drive up to the drive thru entrance,
order medium fries, two Chicken Juniors, no lettuce, and then drive up
to your window, drop money in a plastic bucket and in return receive
a little bag. I’ll occasionally have some of the fries because unless you
fry them in twenty year old grease, I couldn’t care less. They could use
a little more salt. I have moved on since the microwave incident. I eat
Arby’s now. They can’t microwave roast beef, right? If they do, they
do it a lot more discreetly than you. Sure their sandwiches may cost
double what you offer. But it’s worth it. Don’t expect me back anytime
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