This is partial fiction.
Some of it happened.
Some of it didn't.
I'll leave it up to you to determine what you accept as real or dismiss as lies.
It's Monday afternoon. Having skipped a college class that I really can't be bothered with, I find myself wandering around Glasgow in search of something that isn't mind numbingly dull.
Twenty minutes later I give up.
Everyone around me has something to do. They're working, shopping, meeting people, finishing lunch. I find myself growing jealous of them and their abundant activities. I need something to do.
I consider buying a paper and sitting out the next few hours on one of the city's fine benches, but the miniscule amount of change in my pocket mocks me. What's the point of being a educated, literate, well informed person when even a piss poor tabloid costs 20p? Damn money hungry corporate media.
I make a mental note to have something unfortunate happen to Rupert Murdoch.
I decide to call up my buddies, many of whom owe me money, or at least a drink. Trust me, there's no better way to spend a Monday than pleasantly intoxicated. Damn it, though! Fate conspires against me. Everyone I know is in a god damned lecture. They're struggling to become educated, to make themselves as attractive as possible when they jump on the career ladder and start pimping themselves to corporate vultures. Don't they know it's all futile? Haven't they read the million and one nodes about Fight Club?
There's only one thing left to do - waste some time. I figure that I've already wasted enough of my own for one day and now it's time to waste somebody else's. Spotting a franchise food outlet, I enter. My prey is behind the counter. I approach, smiling to lull him into a false sense of security. His name tag proclaims that he is Darryl, purveyor of delicious hot snacks and refreshing ice cold drinks. He asks what I would like.
A list of ingredients for all your products, please.
He looks confused for a moment. He tries to decide whether I'm joking or not. Unable to make up his mind, he informs me that he'll have to go and speak to the manager.
I am delighted. I had felt a slight twinge of guilt directing my evil intentions towards this poor subordinate who's probably only doing this so he can afford an XBox. The manager, on the other hand, presents a perfectly legitimate target. Workers, arise! Overthrow the bosses in bloody revolution!
The manager's name tag is silver coloured plastic. Every other employee has a bronze name tag. I realise that I am dealing with no mere mortal. He smiles and addresses me informally. He wants to help. The company wants to help. The company wants to be my friend.
I repeat my demands. A list of all the ingredients that you use in your food, if you please.
The smile holds. He asks me to hold on for a minute while he calls up head office. Sheer joy floods my brain. Now I'm wasting the manager's time and the time of one of the sweatshop monkeys answering telephones in a warehouse out in whatever country has cheap enough labour rates. Fight the Power! Fight the Power!
I'm asked for my address I write it down. I'm told that I will receive information as soon as possible. In all probability, the "information" will take the shape of a form letter apologising for the fact that the information I requested is not available.
It's Friday morning. I am perplexed. A fairly thick envelope has thudded through my letter box. It bears the familiar logo of the fast food company.
It turns out that the burger place only actually sells about thirty different products, and the majority of them are just variations on other items. Cheeseburgers, for example, are available as double cheeseburgers, or, with the addition of an extra piece of bread and a dash of salad, as the company's Flagship Sandwich.
I skip the boring pages and get to the good stuff - E numbers. These are the artificial additives used to avoid the time and expense involved in making actual good food. The list is several pages long. Google helps me expand on the sparse information provided.
E904 - Liquid secreted by the Indian lac insect. Used on glazed products to add to the shine. Other applications include woodwork and taxidermy.
E445 - Extract from pine chips. Used in fizzy drinks containing fruit to stabilise the product.
E170 - Chalk. Used to make bread based products look more white.
E215 - Sodium ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate. Used as a preservative. A World Health Organisation study conducted on laboratory animals found this substance to have a local anesthetic effect comparable to that of cocaine.
Mmm... burger. Hey, hey dude, I can't feel my face...
Perhaps the most disturbing item on the list is:
E120 - Cochineal. Extracted from baked insects. Used as a colouring agent in meat products.
I imagine a massive tray full of bugs sliding into an industrial oven. In the scorching heat, spindled legs twist and twich, bodily fluids ooze and evaporate. Little black pinpoints of eyes melt out of smouldering sockets.
There's something in here that I can't quite put my finger on. It's revolting, yes, but there's a certain black humour in there somewhere. People all around the world are paying money and taking pleasure in eating this stuff. They're buying into slick advertising campaigns. They're forming brand loyalty to McDonald's, to Burger King, to KFC, and in return the corporations have them eating bugs.
I'm just glad that I gave up eating the shit when I was in high school.