OAKLAND, CA—McDonald's franchise #4793, located on the corner of 12th and Franklin in downtown Oakland, perpetually teeters on the brink of anarchy, store patrons reported Monday.
"I stopped in there this afternoon, and there's garbage all over the floor, half-dressed kids are running around throwing things, and everyone is screaming at each other," said Meredith Smith, 26. "I half-expected the National Guard to flood in."
Smith is not the only one puzzled by the restaurant's near-anarchic state.
"There's always about 15 people in the kitchen, and it still takes 20 minutes just to get your order taken," said Bill Zumbo, 33. "You just stand there and wonder, 'What is going on here? What is happening?'"
During a recent visit, despite long lines at all four registers, Zumbo spotted crew members joking around with friends, sharing cigarettes in the drive-thru area, and throwing random objects on the grill to see how well they burn. As garbage overflowed from the trash receptacles and a wide puddle of fetid, gray-brown water saturated the east-entrance floor mat, the only visible clean-up-crew member was napping in a booth.
"I sometimes go there for lunch during work, and, at first, I was kind of amused by it," Zumbo said. "It was funny how the cashier would yell back to the cook and say, 'Shut up, bitch, and get me some fries!' But then I began to question my safety. In that place, anything could happen."
Fearing everything from food poisoning to death by gunshot, Zumbo said he now walks an extra eight blocks to the McDonald's on Fairview Avenue.
With its graffiti-covered tables and restrooms unfit for human waste, the 12th and Franklin McDonald's evokes the lawlessness of the most far-flung underdeveloped banana republic. Surly single mothers toting caterwauling babies are among the restaurant's most prevalent patrons. The remaining booths are filled with an endless parade of lice-ridden vagrants, morbidly obese bachelors, and borderline illiterates with french-fry-stained pants.
The restaurant's food provides further evidence of its descent into chaos.
"When the burgers are fully cooked—which they rarely are—the orders are always screwed up," Danielle Costa, 36, said. "I've gotten orders with a bun and no burger, two burgers and no bun, a Filet-O-Fish crammed into an apple-pie box—you name it. And the only visible cook is bobbing his head up and down listening to music on his headphones. I can't believe there hasn't been some sort of fast-food coup d'etat at that place by now."
Various McDonald's district supervisors have attempted to stabilize store #4793, but all have met with failure.
"It's all about location," said McDonald's District 7 franchise owner Vanessa Ceres. "No matter how well-planned your corporate structure may be, if the customers in that area want to turn your store into a dump, there's not much you can do about it."
According to University of California-Berkeley sociology professor Richard Weber, the 12th and Franklin McDonald's will likely be overthrown and plunged into full-blown anarchy one day.
"It's only a matter of time before the employees topple the Ronald McDonald statue in the lobby and declare mob rule," Weber said. "And when that day comes, God help anyone who happens to be in the downtown area looking for a place to grab a quick bite."