Worse Than Teenagers At the Mall!

Via NYMag, the NYTimes reports on a crime wave in Queens:

For the past several months, a number of elderly Korean patrons and this McDonald’s they frequent have been battling over the benches inside. The restaurant says the people who colonize the seats on a daily basis are quashing business, taking up tables for hours while splitting a small packet of French fries ($1.39); the group say they are customers and entitled to take their time. A lot of time.

“Do you think you can drink a large coffee within 20 minutes?” David Choi, 77, said. “No, it’s impossible.”

And though they have treated the corner restaurant as their own personal meeting place for more than five years, they say, the situation has escalated in recent months. The police said there had been four 911 calls since November requesting the removal of the entrenched older patrons. Officers have stopped in as frequently as three times a day while on patrol, according to the patrons, who sidle away only to boomerang right back. Medium cups of coffee ($1.09 each) have been spilled; harsh words have been exchanged. And still — proud, defiant and stuck in their ways — they file in each morning, staging a de facto sit-in amid the McNuggets.

“Large group — males, females — refusing to get up and leave,” read the police summary of one 911 call placed on Jan. 3 at 2:30 p.m. “The group passed a lot of sit-down time. Refusing to let other customers sit.”…

Concerned citizens report there are many perfectly cromulent senior centers in the area — apparently some of the aged scofflaws go to those centers for lunch, so they don’t have to eat that McDs crap — but the oldsters just will not be quietly herded off into demographic quarantine, for reasons that are unclear to the CCs. It’s like the alte kackers wanted to be in the way of all the world’s busy-ness!

(Also, as NYMag points out, Flushing is apparently totally crime-free now, so you may want to consider moving there – unless you place a high value on ample McDonald’s seating.”)

85 replies
  1. 1
    YellowJournalism says:

    First thing that came to mind:

    Mildred: Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?
    Johnny: Whadda you got?

  2. 2
    Amir Khalid says:

    Moi, I think the oldsters and Mickey D deserve each other. Although you can’t exactly call the old people scofflaws since they aren’t actually breaking any law — there’s certainly no law against pissing off McDonald’s.

  3. 3
    🎂 Martin says:

    If it were Florida, I’m pretty sure at least 3 people would have been shot by now.

    I just came back from a 2 mile walk. 10:30 PM and it’s 70 degrees out in January. Unreal.

  4. 4
    Nutella says:

    McDonalds could get rid of these guys easier without the cops, since they are rude and obnoxious but not actually breaking any laws. They could mop the floors frequently with much splashing of dirty water or play carefully selected loud music.

    Serving them cold coffee and congealed fried probably wouldn’t discourage them.

    I remember some 7-11s in MA managed to drive off the punk kids who hung out on the edge of their property at all hours by playing Barry Manilow songs.

  5. 5
    Jewish Steel says:

    Reclaiming private space for public use. I like everything about this.

  6. 6
    Anoniminous says:

    @Nutella:

    playing Barry Manilow songs.

    I believe that’s against the Cruel and Unusual Punishment clause in the Constitution.

  7. 7
    Ruckus says:

    @Anoniminous:
    I’ve seen a copy of the constitution that lists Barry Manilow music as a prime example of cruel and unusual punishment. It’s listed ahead of waterboarding.

  8. 8
    Isla says:

    These people aren’t breaking the law. But I guess McDonald’s might as well use police as their personal bouncers. They’re already using public resources to keep their workforce fed, housed, and healthy.

  9. 9
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    You know, people hanging out in restaurants and socializing is kind of…well,..ESTABLISHED in Europe and Korea, for that matter.. They are buying merchandise and consuming it on the spot and then just sitting there and socializing with each other, which apparently offends the sensibilities of a fast food joint, where you’re SUPPOSED to gulp and get the hell out of Dodge, I guess. Is there a problem with a queue forming up for seating in the McDonalds? Is the maitre’d pulling his or her hair out?

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ruckus:

    I believe it was Madison, or perhaps Franklin, that foresaw this grave threat and hard coded it into the Constitution, over the objections of some asswipe from SC who wanted blanket permission to use “I Write the Songs” to deal with troublesome field hands..

  11. 11
    PurpleGirl says:

    I wonder if the senior centers are on the main floor of their buildings? Is it easy for the people to get to a meeting room? Are there stairs and/or elevators to get to the meeting room(s)? Do the senior centers have a general room where people can just sit and hang out (as we say)? Or are there always planned activities?

    It doesn’t balance the problem but I know Starbucks and B&Ns where young people sit for hours nursing a coffee while they read textbooks or work on their laptops. The B&N at Union Square at signs at each table for a while asking people to leave after a period of time so others could sit down. Many times I’ve been there and waited for a table. But they never had anyone go around to tell people to leave. (Maybe the young people spend more money, but they are still there for hours.)

  12. 12
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    I knew it had a long history. Someone had to assume that a voice would come along and be used to create such horror. Even if they didn’t have the slightest idea about recording. They must have understood that even hearing that voice sing those songs once would be cruel.

  13. 13
    Ruckus says:

    @PurpleGirl:
    I’ll bet that McD’s is afraid that someone sitting there long enough may get sick. Usually one takes their crap away or at least eats and leaves fast enough that they have time to get out of sight and earshot before returning lunch forcefully. Which may scare away new customers.

  14. 14
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    I figure there’s no problem finding a seat at a Mickey D’s, except maybe at peak hours i.e. lunchtime or dinnertime. There should never be a shortage of seating at, say, 3pm; in fact, the place should be all but empty.

  15. 15
    🎂 Martin says:

    @Nutella:

    McDonalds could get rid of these guys easier without the cops, since they are rude and obnoxious but not actually breaking any laws. They could mop the floors frequently with much splashing of dirty water or play carefully selected loud music.

    Yeah, no, that’s not going to work. These are old Korean men, who like old Jewish men and old Armenian men have one thing in common – they are old men, they have nothing better to do. What’s more, there’s a good chance they were involved in the war. They will not be run off by some 17 year old in a paper hat. This will become a blood sport for them. Winning those tables will the culminating experience of their life.

  16. 16
    Anne Laurie says:

    @PurpleGirl: I personally think the issue is that the old folks want to be out in the world, surrounded by people of all ages & conditions, not herded into “senior citizen” centers. It’s like the ‘concerned parents’ who want the schools to have extended hours so their kids won’t hang around the mall — sure, the teenagers want to hang around each other, but they want to hang around each other and still be out in public.

    This corporatist “sort customers by age-groups to streamline target advertising” theory has been one factor in destroying our whole concept of community over the last half-century or so. IIRC, it was taken directly from the factory-improvement ideas of the first half of the twentieth century, and (like so many related ideas) its influence has grown increasingly malignant. Humans aren’t meant for social ‘monocultures’ — no matter how much the efficiency experts assure the marketing teams that we’ll get used to it!

  17. 17
    wasabi gasp says:

    Wait them to death. Take their order every minute. Over and over and over again. Cheeseburger? Cheeseburger? Cheeseburger?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZ68Cmm_nig

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    The base problem is that life gets in the way of profit.

    And we cannot, under any circumstance, have THAT.

    The obsession of corporations with money above everything else that might have a value that can’t be immediately monetized and then transferred to an executive’s bonus package is really fucking things up. These soulless Ebeneezer Scrooge before the visitations types set the agenda.

  19. 19
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Anne Laurie: That is a very good observation, AL. I, myself at 62, don’t like to go to the senior activities of my apartment complex because the other attendees are mostly in their 80s and I want a younger crowd. Even at one of the other local senior centers, the crowd is mostly in their 80s.

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @wasabi gasp:

    “No Coke. Pepsi!”

    Then, next week, after the Coke supplier makes a better offer…

    “No Pepsi…Coke!”

  21. 21
    Another Holocene Human says:

    McD’s could solve their “problem” of having customers (lol) by installing that high bar/stool seating inside the store, the stuff oldsters never want to touch, and also standing tables with no seating, to accommodate the quik custom, and leave those utilitarian but low seats and tables outside full of old folks with nothing better to do. Makes their business look busy when it’s not and the people who flood in at meal times can still chow in place if they wanna.

    I assume this is not a big, suburban-style location with a playpen and screaming kids.

    But at any rate, I remember urban McD’s, when I braved them, never had seats even if they had two levels, and the service sucked (for a McD’s) so no biggie… The only reason to go there was free toilet. And suburban McD’s have their own daily aged barnacles. The franchise owners are being silly. They probably have a sad because places selling tasty steamed buns make more money than their confused, shitty product. (Effin fries with no meat grease in em?!)

  22. 22
    PurpleGirl says:

    @PurpleGirl: Please don’t think I don’t like the older ladies. I do know a number of my neighbors who are much older and I do like them, but I want to spend my time with a range of people, just not only these people. Last summer (2012), when I was experiencing the vibrations from the ventilation system, I began going to a Starbucks about 25 blocks down Queens Blvd and stayed there for a periods of time. Maybe people didn’t talk to each other but there was a range of people there.

  23. 23
    Glocksman says:

    From reading the article and looking at the picture, it’s a standalone location and not at a mall, though I couldn’t tell if it had a Playland or not.

    As far as the oldsters go, if they’re not taking up seating during peak times by all means let them stay.
    If their being there for hours is forcing other customers to stand up and wait for seats, chuck them out on their asses.

    In the end, McD’s is a business that relies on quick turnover during peak hours and not a community center or public meeting area to linger over a cup of coffee for hours on end.
    If that’s what you want to do, find a Starbucks or go to the nearest shopping mall’s food court.

  24. 24
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Glocksman: I don’t know that particular location but I know the type. It’s a stand-alone store, narrow and on the smallish side and it is right on the shopping street. It’s not in a mall. (And there isn’t a mall near the shopping area, which is all local streets.) These people aren’t going to go to a Starbucks because McDs is CHEAP and Starbucks is not. Nearest mall may be two or three bus rides away or a bus and subway trip. These people walk places, they don’t drive very far or much if they do drive, the malls nearby charge for parking. No playland area, it’s on the corner or between two other stores.

    ETA: This Flushing area is a transit hub — the #7 train terminates/starts there, the LI Railroad passes through the area, there are dozens of buses which either terminate/start return trips in the area or go through the area.

  25. 25
    Warren Terra says:

    I don’t really get the tone of the comments here. Yes, the “victim” is McDonalds, and so is massively unsympathetic – but these people are abusing the facilities, as surely as any motorcycle gang menacingly loitering at the Qwik-E-Mart. What they’re doing is wrong, and they know it; that it’s being done to some schmuck who owns a McDonald’s franchise may make it funny, but it doesn’t make it right.

  26. 26
    linda says:

    @Jewish Steel: yes, there is no public space anymore unless a sufficient amount of money changes hands per hour. Sometimes the annoying loud folks in the library bug me, until I realize that they literally have no other public space to exist.

  27. 27
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Humans aren’t meant for social ‘monocultures’ — no matter how much the efficiency experts assure the marketing teams that we’ll get used to it!

    Amen and amen. That’s why I despise the gated “55+” housing developments that are common here in Florida. I completely understand their attraction for retirees — who wouldn’t want to wall themselves off from squealing toddlers and sulky teens and ride around in golf carts all day? But that’s not how human communities are supposed to operate.

    It is my opinion that the elders need exposure to the full demographic spectrum to prevent calcification, and we need their wisdom and watchfulness among us. Tear down that wall!

  28. 28
    geg6 says:

    Our local Mickey Ds is chock full of oldsters all day every day. The workers know them by name and there is much joshing and banter among everyone there. I hate the food there but the coffee is pretty good, so when I go there, it always seems nice, like a diner in the old days.

  29. 29
    Glocksman says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Exactly.
    The people ‘abusing the facilities’ as you put it, may be more sympathetic than a group of Mongols hanging around the local Stop-n-Shop, but if their presence is keeping others from patronizing the business, the principle is the same.

    @linda:

    There are public spaces that one can use.
    They may not be conveniently located, but that doesn’t give a group the right to squat in McD’s, whether it be a group of oldsters, the Mongols MC, or a group of high schoolers looking for a place to play their RPG’s.

    To amplify on my first post, if they’re not occupying space during peak hours, the wise course for the business owner would be to let them sit and avoid bad publicity.

    If they’re costing him paying customers, then out they go.

  30. 30
    Glocksman says:

    From the article:

    “It’s a McDonald’s,” said Martha Anderson, the general manager, “not a senior center.” She said she called the police after the group refused to budge and other customers asked for refunds because there was nowhere to sit.

    Yet there seem to be no shortage of facilities that cater to the elderly in the neighborhood. Civic centers dot the blocks, featuring parlors for baduk, an Asian board game, and classes in subjects from calisthenics to English. Mr. Lee, who comes to the McDonald’s from Bayside, passes several senior centers en route. One is a Korean Community Service center in Flushing, which recently changed a room in the basement into a cafe with 25-cent coffee after its president, Kwang S. Kim, got word of the McDonald’s standoff.

    No one has come.

    “I think I have to go to McDonald’s and ask why they’re there,” Mr. Kim said.

    Outside the McDonald’s on Saturday, Sang Yong Park, 76, and his friend, Il Ho Park, 76, tried to explain what drew them there. They come every single day to gossip, chat about politics back home and in their adopted land, hauling themselves up from the banquettes with their canes to step outside for short cigarillo breaks. And they could not say why they keep coming back — after a short walk around the block to blow off steam — every time the officers remove them. They said they had each been ousted three times so far.

    Shit, if I’m in a busy restaurant and there are people waiting for seats, I’m not going to linger over coffee once I’m done eating.
    That’s simply common courtesy and the word I use for people who don’t exercise that courtesy is ‘asshole’.

  31. 31
    Shortstop says:

    @Betty Cracker: The third baseman’s dad and his wife live in The Villages. Stepmom told me, “Y’all should move here when you retire!” I managed not to say aloud that I’d rather put a bullet through my own head.

  32. 32
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Some of you who criticize the olds don’t realize that their very presence benefits the place. Old people sitting in place drinking coffee says that the place is safe. And probably keeps it safe.
    Empty tables are an invitation for crime, as people know there are no possible witnesses. But people sitting at a table and staying there?

    And anyway, how many people these days are actually sitting in McDonalds’s anyway? There are more people using the drive through so they can get back to their laptop screen back at home.

    I have never seen anyone actually sitting at the chicken place where I live-everybody is using either the drive-through or the counter.

  33. 33
    Glocksman says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    It benefits the place when it’s otherwise empty, I agree.
    It’s when the place is jam-packed and other customers are getting refunds because there’s no room to sit is when they’re a problem and need to leave.

  34. 34
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    I used to belong to an astrology group that met in McDonalds, in a restaurant before it opened up, and other places, so I think my memories of why can be helpful.

    Restaurants are neutral places where anyone interested can just show up without hassle. A lot of places just can’t accommodate someone who just wants to drop in on the spur of the moment. Plus McDonalds’s or some similar place clearly doesn’t have an agenda other than selling stuff. And these places are open everyday for fairly extensive hours, allow friends and companions entrance, and asks for no more than that you buy something.

    Plus, they are located conveniently near bus stops, parking lots and stores.

    The senior center may be open only during school hours, may require people register at the desk, may not have a decent menu or allow small kids. They may be religiously affiliated or have other things that make a casual visitor uncomfortable.

    So my advice to the McD’s people: Buy something every hour on the hour. As long as you buy, you are considered a customer, not a nuisance. I would do that: buy a meal with drinks-whether it be a breakfast or lunch and plenty of coffee.

  35. 35
    WereBear says:

    These places are deserted at certain times. Like 2:30 pm, the time of the call to 911 in the article.

    If the owner is a typical petty tyrant who loves the power over other people, this is simply a power struggle.

    One the owner will lose.

  36. 36
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @WereBear: 2:30 pm? Unless it’s near a school or close to a place where people use it for coffee break, it’s empty for sure.

  37. 37
    PaulW says:

    the victims here are the other customers who are finding no places themselves to sit and enjoy (kinda) their happy meals. Who speaks for them?

    If I were McDonalds, I would build a decoy McD’s on wheelers, trick the unruly customers into it, and then drive it off at 90 MPH up to New Haven. Let the Yale crowd handle them.

    Meanwhile, the national tragedy that is the passing of The Professor from Gilligan’s Isle remains uncommented upon :(

  38. 38
    NorthLeft12 says:

    So this is the kind of stuff that you call 911 for? I may be out of it, but up here in Canada we use 911 for emergencies and …..well, very urgent matters where immediate aid is needed. Loitering seniors? Really?

    In Canada, a lot of seniors hang out at the Tim Horton’s [the coffee and donut chain up here] for extended periods. I have never heard of those cafes complaining about it and trying to chase them out.

    For the record, I loathe McDonald’s.

  39. 39
    Linda says:

    @Glocksman: I agree that the business owner has a right to have space for his paying customers, but not that there are a lot of public spaces, especially that are climate-controlled. And if you are talking about old people, difficulty of getting to them, especially by car, is a factor (although this seems to not be true in this particular case).

  40. 40
    Linda says:

    Just a thought, but the senior and neighborhood centers in that area should ask themselves–or the old folks–why people would rather be in Mickey D’s and not in their establishment.

  41. 41
    Glocksman says:

    @Linda:

    From the article:

    Yet there seem to be no shortage of facilities that cater to the elderly in the neighborhood. Civic centers dot the blocks, featuring parlors for baduk, an Asian board game, and classes in subjects from calisthenics to English. Mr. Lee, who comes to the McDonald’s from Bayside, passes several senior centers en route. One is a Korean Community Service center in Flushing, which recently changed a room in the basement into a cafe with 25-cent coffee after its president, Kwang S. Kim, got word of the McDonald’s standoff.

    I’d be much more sympathetic if the McD’s was the only place in the area, but it’s not.
    According to the article they’re going out of their way to inconvenience both the store owner and other customers.
    The word I use to describe people who go out of their way to inconvenience others for no good reason is ‘asshole’.

  42. 42
    satby says:

    In a society we try to balance rights. If the oldsters were just hanging out at off hours the McDs wouldn’t care probably; but hanging out for hours, making other people leave when it’s crowded, and repeatedly returning shortly after being rousted by the cops? When there are lots of alternatives? They’re being assholes and being an old doesn’t automatically entitle someone to be an asshole.

  43. 43
    estamm says:

    Geez, just think outside the box, McDonalds:
    1) Make the seats more uncomfortable by adding bumpy permanent seat cushions. They would be ok for about 15 minutes, but after 30 they would start to irritate.
    2) Pipe in current music (or ‘music’) into a speaker over the problem areas
    3) Go overboard with being kind. Come up to them constantly (interrupting their conversations) asking if they would like some water. Someone could even be hired to almost literally sit or stand next to them.
    The goal is to make staying as annoying as possible. But geez, don’t call the cops. That just makes you look like assholes.

  44. 44
    WereBear says:

    @Glocksman: I’d be much more sympathetic if the McD’s was the only place in the area, but it’s not.

    Well, just recently, there’s a cafe with 25 cent coffee. That’s responding to demand. But it does have a drawback:

    a room in the basement

    There’s your problem!

    But geez, it’s enough to make you dread growing old when you look at the “other options” in the area. Classes for this, group activities for that. Which is fine, but what if you don’t want to be herded and lectured like a kindergartener?

  45. 45
    Vlad the Inhaler says:

    I’m with Warren Terra and Glocksman – I don’t get the tone of comments here, either. According to the article, you’ve got a large group of people (at least relative to the available seating space) taking up McD’s seating space for hours every day, even though they’re not McD’s customers (it doesn’t sound like they’re all even doing the “nurse a coffee for 4 hours” trick — they’re all splitting a small fry, or something like that). When asked to leave, they won’t – that’s why you call the cops. When the cops ask them to leave, they come right back once the cops are gone. According to the store manager, this is a big enough problem that paying customers can’t find places to sit

    That’s not cute. That’s not seniors striking a blow for a mixed-age society, or reintroducing a sense of community. It’s a dick move, by a group of people who sound like a bunch of selfish a-holes. They get old, too.

    My very first job out of college was managing a fast food restaurant for a couple of years (a suburban Hardee’s). We had a group of seniors who showed up regularly, bought breakfast, and stayed and chatted for several hours. It was never an issue, but that’s because (1) we always had the room during the morning and, more importantly, (2) they had the common courtesy to give up their tables once they saw the lunch rush was starting.

    That’s not what’s going on here. If the article is accurate, this is just a group of old people being selfish jerks.

  46. 46
    Fanshawe says:

    “Do you think you can drink a large coffee within 20 minutes?” David Choi, 77, said. “No, it’s impossible.”

    This certainly sounds like a very reasonable person who is approaching the situation with good faith.

  47. 47
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    I suspect that one of the problems may be that the other “alternatives” serve a large side order of paternalism along with their options. McDonald’s and the other fast food places treat the seniors, even if negatively like adults.

    Adults who used to raise whole families and run businesses are not trusted to be able to spend time together socializing without having a nurse or someone else hovering over them all the time. Furthermore, there are no more early morning hours or late evening hours even if a senior is a night owl or a late riser: The hours of availability are exactly the same as school kids. This for adults who used to have to get up early to go to work, or stay up late tackling a project.

    Suggestions:

    1) Adult hours. I don’t care if the state prefers not to stay after 5pm or open up before 9 am-open up the alternative at 6am and close up at 9pm.
    2) Let the people set their own agenda-and if hanging out is it, let them just hang out.
    3) No more basements and spaces where you can’t look out a window and see traffic passing by.
    4) Let multiple generations hang out, visit-with no censorship for the more unconventional or the unmarried.

  48. 48
    Glocksman says:

    @WereBear:

    All they have to do is quit being assholes about it.
    When the place gets busy and needs the space, get up and leave.

    Several of them admitted they couldn’t articulate just why they go that particular MickeyD’s.
    I think they do know why, it’s just that admitting ‘because I’m being a selfish asshole’ doesn’t look good in print.

  49. 49
    Feudalism Now! says:

    This is not a convenience issue. It is a group sticking it to the “man”, the ‘man’ being a young, most likely female, supervisor at McDonalds. The simple thing would be for the seniors to exhibit common courtesy to other customers. What will happen is the McDonalds will try to make itself more discriminatory to all elderly, I.e. uncomfortable seating, harassment, and police intimidation. Woohoo!

  50. 50
    Elizabelle says:

    So glad to see you discussing this article. An interesting problem.

    @satby:
    @Vlad the Inhaler:
    @Glocksman:

    Agreed with your comments. The problem is that the oldsters won’t leave when it gets busy, and they deny actual fast food customers seats.

    Off hours, I’m sure their presence is fine.

    If I were the McD’s manager or owner, I would meet with them, explain that they are more than welcome in the off hours, but during breakfast, lunch, afterschool and dinner rush, McD’s needs its seats for meal customers.

    Overhead is expensive; each of those tables has to return a certain amount of paid business per day to stay profitable and in business. Surely, as intelligent elders, they can understand that.

    I would offer to let them celebrate their birthdays and special days — in the off hours — with cakes they bring in, if McD’s allows that.

    But this occupation during business hours has to stop. Because McD’s is a business. And they cannot sit there for hour upon hour.

  51. 51
    Elizabelle says:

    @CarolDuhart2:
    @WereBear:

    Yeah, a basement — hard to get up and down steps, probably dark and musty, and no big windows to watch the passing scene.

    I’d bet those big McD windows on the street, and the bustle of being out amidst all age groups, are a lot of the attraction for these coffee rats.

    Also, much like “Medicaid” — people who can benefit from “senior centers” may not want to acknowledge themselves as “elderly.”

  52. 52
    gvg says:

    The seniors seem to be acting childish. Mom taught me to finish and leave when there was a crowd waiting and also if you use the restroom you had to buy something. Buying one french fry doesn’t entitle them to all day lingering. Also having all kinds of people hang around causes work as in cleaning for staff and they are getting in the way. Slow times are when the staff gets to run around and clean especially mop.
    It sounds like this started off fine. Some hanging around does make a place look busier and safe. Excessive hanging around drives off other potential paying customers. It’s all very well to think of greed run amok but every business is in need of regular profit and this is not a charity.
    Suppose the local senior or civic centers that are service or charity are doing something wrong. OK, that is not McDonalds problem to solve and they need to tell it to the leaders of those center’s or community leaders. I think the problem is that these seniors think they have nothing else to do. That’s sad and THEY should do something about it. The community should be helpful in that regard but it starts with them.
    They aren’t behaving with the normal courtesy my mother taught me. I do have a reflex to automatically think McDonald’s is wrong but this time I don’t see it.

  53. 53
    lol says:

    @Elizabelle:

    You and others seem pretty intent on pretending the basement location with coffee is the only senior center in the area.

  54. 54
    Fred says:

    I just wonder if this would all be such a problem for McD’s if the offending customers were of a more european flavor?

  55. 55
    NotMax says:

    There’s an outlet of a local chain of 7-11-ish places (but better food) near the abode. It has a grand total of one table with 2 benches.

    And every night of the week, for as long as I can remember, the same 4 gentlemen have sat at that table playing cards for hours on end. No sign of any food or drinks, although I can’t guarantee they never order anything..

  56. 56
    Elizabelle says:

    @lol:

    No, not saying that at all. Just that the basement could be unappealing.

    @Fred:

    If you’re a business owner, having your tables taken out of service for hours, while others who buy food and want to sit and eat it, is a nightmare.

    This would be a problem with any group of people who occupy the tables. (Except maybe celebrities, whom others would come to gawk at.)

    Great opportunity to think on what appeals to these customers.

    One huge problem is they want to congregate, but don’t want to pay for the privilege (they’re not even buying breakfasts or meals).

    That’s a disincentive for any profit-oriented business.

    McD’s does not owe them a gathering place. But maybe it could welcome them, in the off hours.

  57. 57
    Elizabelle says:

    @lol:

    PS: maybe they don’t want to hang at ANY senior center. They want to be out and about.

    They’re not at Starbucks. Maybe they don’t want to pay those prices.

    It’s an interesting problem.

  58. 58
    Elizabelle says:

    Great. Now some Korean “community leaders” are threatening a worldwide boycott of McDonald’s in February. Politicians have jumped into the fray too. NY Times today.

    On Thursday afternoon, several Korean community leaders hand-delivered a letter to a manager of the McDonald’s franchise at the corner of Parsons and Northern Boulevards, outlining their outrage that, over the past several months, the management has called 911 to oust older men and women who sit for hours hovering over a single cup of coffee. The dispute was reported by The Korea Times and this week by The New York Times.

    “Senior citizens should not be treated as criminals,” said Christine Colligan, a leader of the Korean Parents Association of New York, as she stood outside the restaurant, her voice rising. “They should be respected.”

    That morning, Ms. Colligan had contacted her sprawling network in the Korean community urging a “worldwide” boycott of the fast-food restaurant for the month of February. In a letter, she attacked what she saw as “stark racism” by McDonald’s: “We will teach them a lesson,” the letter said.

  59. 59
    Jasmine Bleach says:

    Yeah, these old farts might be a##holes, but really, they’re probably doing the world a huge favor by making people not come to that McDs.

    Fast food like that shortens lifespans. Seriously, they’re probably doing customers a favor. Think of it as an unintentional humanitarian mission.

  60. 60
    Jasmine Bleach says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I really do think that’s great! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished people would wise up to how bad fast food is for you and how badly they treat employees. I’d welcome a worldwide boycott by everyone.

    There are some (relatively) decent fast food joints, like In ‘n Out Burger, who pay decent wages and serve actually fresh food. If McDs wants my sympathy, I’d tell them to be more like that.

  61. 61
    Elizabelle says:

    @Jasmine Bleach:

    I love In N Out burger! The Costco of burger chains, no? Not on the East Coast, alas.

    And you’re right about the unintentional favor. Fast food does a body no good. (Calling Morgan Spurlock.)

    But it’s still an interesting problem. The seniors need a fun place to congregate, be out and about, be respected. But they don’t want to spend money (or have not been forced to do so).

  62. 62
  63. 63
    daveNYC says:

    @Fred: In Flushing Queens? Massive Asian population there. It’s possible, but rather unlikely that the people at McD’s are just hating on the Koreans.

    The article mentions them sharing a small fry. Sharing the cheapest thing on the menu and taking up seats while others can’t find seats is just a dick move.

  64. 64
    Ruckus says:

    I wonder how many here knocking the olds aren’t one themselves. Sounds a lot like, I want my quick, crap sustenance and I want it now. Get these old, useless farts out of my way.

  65. 65
    RSA says:

    I’m seeing a possible culture clash. In some places I’ve lived, and even where I live now, it’s not unusual for people in a coffee shop to stretch out their time for hours, even if other people are waiting for seats. I think this is common in many places in Europe, perhaps also in Korea. It’s not as common in the U.S.

    The old people might not be behaving selfishly in their own minds. They may see “McCafe” and think, “Why not?”

    Not good for the fast food business model, of course. But calling 911 seems to be going over the line; they’re not doing anything illegal.

  66. 66
    KXB says:

    The Chinatown in Flushing is huge, much bigger than the one in Manhattan. There is also a huge Korean population, and a sizable Indian community. As a kid, we used to go to the Hindu temple in that area, and then Mom would do her shopping. There is no shortage of eateries in the area for these seniors. It is quite possible that the Asian owners of those other restaurants do not allow for them to just hang out for hours on end. If that is the case, why should the manager of McDonalds be treated differently?

    Also, parking & driving there is a nightmare. Stores and restaurants live and die by foot traffic. If customers see no seating at lunchtime, they have plenty of options to take their business elsewhere. Again, why should the manager and staff at McDonald’s pay the price of lost business?

  67. 67
    Tyro says:

    I hate to come to the defense of McDonald’s but this is exactly the sort of dickishness and flouting of public norms that results in gratuitous rule-making. There are no specific time limits at which you can hang out at McDonald’s and no “minimum order”. But that is because everyone just assumes you will spent a bit of time hanging out and eating with your friends, not buying a small fries which you split between a dozen people and hang out for several hours. They’re gaming the system to the detriment of those who are following the public norms.

  68. 68
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    When I was in grad school, the on-campus McD’s outlet starting putting out little paper table tents that instructed patrons to limit their stay to 20 minutes or less. I liked to disassemble the table tents, turn them inside out, and pen my own version of the company’s edict:

    “You’ve got your food
    We’ve got your cash
    It’s time for you
    To eat and dash.”

  69. 69
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Fred:

    I’m sure that that has NOTHING to do with it.

    Just like the “visceral dislike” of Obama has nothing to do with melanin concentrations.

  70. 70
    Glocksman says:

    @Elizabelle:

    If this was about a group of teenagers we wouldn’t even be talking about it, much least reading about it in the New York Times.

    Perhaps the ‘Korean Parents Association’ would be better served by asking the group just what in the fuck do they think they’re doing, rather than harassing the manager for simply doing her job.

    @KXB:

    Just out of curiosity I did a Google street view of the area.
    You’re not lying.
    Almost every sign I looked at that wasn’t from some chain was in both English and what looked to be Chinese and/or Korean.
    Right across the street from McD’s is a deli, a bagel shop, and a bunch of places I couldn’t identify.
    The McD’s itself is just a small corner location with no drive through I could see and if the place seated 40 people, I’d be shocked.

    @Tyro:

    Like I said, assholes.

  71. 71
    MCA1 says:

    @Elizabelle: Good ideas. Note that all of them basically boil down to: COMMUNICATE BETTER. Once you call the cops, all bets are off, I think.

    That said, all initial blame here starts with the “customers.” Their being older makes it more inexcusable that they’re so rude – they should know better – not less. The fact that they’re Korean is immaterial in a place that’s about as diverse and comfortable with its diversity as anyplace in the Western Hemisphere. Even if they’re first generation American, they can understand the basics of commerce and understand that McDonalds is not a Parisian cafe. The fact that this happened at a place most of us strongly dislike doesn’t excuse the behavior. And it’s not one business’s fault that there may not be other similar places to congregate, or that American public spaces have deteriorated.

    At heart, these people took the well-trodden path of selfish dicks everywhere, which is “I know what I’m doing is wrong, but I’m going to take advantage of people’s basic desire to avoid conflict and trust that no one will work up the guts to call me out on it.” When you dig into situations like this, there is always, inevitably, someone acting as though the rules of common decency and manners don’t apply to them. Always. And then when someone does come along with the balls to tell them they’re acting inconsiderately and please stop, what happens? One in ten feign ignorance or accept their rebuke and apologize. But much more commonly, they double down, childishly project their anger at their own selfish selves into anger at the one calling them out. It’s just a psychological way of covering the guilt they’re feeling for being publicly shamed about their selfishness. That’s exactly what’s happened here. Trust me. I have a lot of experience in this – I’m that guy who calls people out for cutting in line, or blocking a lane of traffic to park with their flashers on to go grab a cup of coffee, or pretending not to notice the pregnant lady when they’ve got a nice seat on the train.

  72. 72
    MCA1 says:

    @Tyro: Well said. There’s no qualitative difference between this and the guy who rides along on the shoulder until the last possible second when there’s a lane closure and then forces his way into the already merged line of traffic, fucking it all up for everyone else. It’s why some of us feel the need to straddle the lanes the last hundred yards.

  73. 73
    StringOnAStick says:

    I spent a couple of months in Italy in the mid 1990’s while in a class with people from all over Europe. It took me a long time to get comfortable with the idea that we could leisurely drink our coffee because I was so used to the American norm of get it, chug it, and get out of the way for the next paying customer. That said, it is clear these old folks are workin’ it, and have probably become quite dedicated to continuing to do so since they’ve been called on it. Common courtesy says you don’t take up table space for hours while spending pennies if it is taking space that other customers want to use for just a short time. Sounds like it has devolved into a test of wills.

  74. 74
    Glocksman says:

    On the subject of food joints, here’s my favorite female singer/songwriter Matraca Berg singing ‘Eat at Joe’s’.

    Video

    I’m half tempted to run her husband over with a truck and marry the grieving widow. :)

  75. 75
    LanceThruster says:

    Teens are found to be chased away by playing classical music or a high frequency emitting device called the mosquito.

    What would be the equivalent for the elderly?

  76. 76
    Glocksman says:

    @LanceThruster:

    Seether? Led Zep?

    If you want to drive everyone off, just play Barry Manilow.

  77. 77
    GRANDPA john says:

    @Elizabelle: Someone should tell ms Colligon that respect has to be earned it is not an entitlement. also acting like a bunch of whiney ass privileged assholes with a sense of entitlement is not the way to earn respect.
    Being a member of this age group, (I am 76) these people embarass me .

  78. 78
    dr. luba says:

    @GRANDPA john: A few years back, one of the older docs complained to our chief that the nurses weren’t giving him enough respect. The chief looked him in the eye and said “You have to earn it.”

  79. 79
    Elizabelle says:

    You guys have all had such good comments and insights.

    And how lucky for all of us not to be that McDonald’s manager. Oy vey.

    And that the codgerly Koreans don’t seem to be armed and fearful for their lives.

  80. 80
    Captain C says:

    @Glocksman: I know of one Tower Records in Arizona that used to make sure customers left on time by putting on avant garde Yoko Ono albums about 15 minutes before close. Worked like a charm.

  81. 81
    LanceThruster says:

    @Glocksman:

    Didn’t he (Manilow) write one of the Mickey-D jingles (You deserve a break today)?

  82. 82
    LanceThruster says:

    Since Mickey-D’s did that ad campaign where they acted like a cool late nite club, require a two drink minimum (or equivalent).

  83. 83
    Elizabelle says:

    Story from 2007 about a Los Angeles Koreatown McD’s that has become world famous among Koreans as a place to socialize.

    They have a big outdoor patio in the California weather. Attracts a longtime clientele of elderly Koreans.

  84. 84
    YellowJournalism says:

    @RSA:

    Not good for the fast food business model, of course. But calling 911 seems to be going over the line; they’re not doing anything illegal.

    Actually, if you’ve been asked to leave a private business, which that franchise is, and you don’t leave, you’re officially trespassing. If I recall that’s illegal. The fact that they keep coming back after the cops leave would be considered harassment if this was a group of teens. It’s also pretty obnoxious that this isn’t a group of olds nursing their individual coffees of all they order is a small fry for a large group.

    I do agree that there are cultural differences in play here, and they could be addressed at some kind of community meeting as an act of good will on the part of the franchise owner. I think the Korean community leader tried to reach out but was ignored. However, I see an attitude of entitlement that maybe even a calm sit-down would not help. I also do not think their race plays any part in their being asked to leave, and that accusation is going to push people away from a much-needed conversation about community and common courtesy to other customers.

  85. 85
    YellowJournalism says:

    That was supposed to be obvious not obnoxious. Damn auto correct.

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