I have to thank the crazy Facebook algorithm for that. I was browsing social media this week when I noticed a local trend story. The short title was: “McDonald’s is having a retirement ceremony for a long-time employee in Needham, MA,” my hometown.
I clicked on the link and wondered who could win a retirement party for the world’s largest fast-food chain. When I saw the employee’s face, it made much more sense.
Freia David has worked at McDonald’s in Needham for 32 years. It all started behind the fryer, also known as the Fry-o-later, in 1984, it’s also the year I was born. That means it makes delicious McDonald’s potato chips while you live. This type of engagement would be special in itself, but most impressive is that Freia held the fryer in her hand.
When I read the story, it was full of memories and I started crying. But don’t worry, it was tears of joy and appreciation for a working woman who served me countless happy meals with a smile.
I remember going to McDonald’s in the middle of the day when I was in high school when parents began to trust that their children would go downtown alone. Freia was almost always on call and working professionally on these Fry-o-later buttons. Given my busy journalistic life, I eat fast food today and I want to tell you that the chips in Los Angeles cannot compete with the chips that Freia monitors. Once I remember someone using the word “R-” to make fun of them because their precious order was ruined, and I thought, “I’d hit this guy if he was a little older and taller.” Of course, I admit that I gave up how I had the perfect name for someone who is responsible for fries at McDonald’s, but I was really upset when the angry customer talked about his disability.
As far as I know, she never lost control in Freia’s favor or was defined by Down syndrome. Not that I had a real conversation with her, although I certainly would have liked time. But it showed from the warm and generous smile that he was still having fun. I can’t imagine hundreds of teens he has seen at McDonald’s over the years passing by the counter.
I don’t really remember the men and women waiting for me at Friendly’s, Papa Gino or Earth Round, but I do remember Freia David. In the golden arches for 32 years! When our paths cross the next time I’m in Needham, the fries will be on me.