McDonald's to Employees: Sing Away Your Stress (and Wear Socks to Bed)

Inside the bizarro world of the chain's employee help site, McResource Line.

Jason Best has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

If you’re a McDonald's worker trying to make ends meet, holding down a second job while pulling in minimum wage and still living perilously close to the poverty line, your employer has a tip for you: Sing along to your favorite song.

Or you could always book a second vacation.

Those are just two of the jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, do-I-laugh-or-do-I-cry pieces of advice offered up for Mickey D’s employees on the company’s McResource Line website. The tips are the target of a new 90-second video from Low Pay Is Not OK, one of the union-supported groups that’s been agitating for a serious pay hike for fast-food workers.

The video is a sequel of sorts to another the group released last month, which features excerpts from a call a 10-year veteran of McDonald’s made to the McResource help line. The gist? She was essentially encouraged to apply for food stamps and go on Medicaid.

The top brass at McDonald’s must know what a drubbing they’re getting, right? They have an enormous PR apparatus.

Yet as the latest video from Low Pay Is Not OK makes clear, the company is obviously operating in some sort of blithe, creepy, Stepford Wives–y, corporate-think haze when it comes to facing the reality of what many of its frontline workers face every day.

Yes, as the video highlights, there are the weird little “lifestyle” factoids that appear on most of the McResource Line Web pages, including such priceless gems as “Sing Away Stress: Singing along to your favorite songs can lower your blood pressure” and “Pack Your Bags: At Least 2 vacations a year can cut heart attack risk by 50%.”

Then there’s this one, which, c’mon, sounds like it just has to be from an SNL parody: “Breaking food into pieces often results in eating less and still feeling full.”

To which the video responds, “Hey, kids, break up your crackers and ketchup into pieces!”

But it’s not just the factoids featured in the video that suggest McDonald’s is, in the words of the labor rights group, “totally effing clueless.” The group has cherry-picked a few of the worst/best tips, but the entire McResource website follows along the same lines, littered with advice that sounds, at best, completely canned and, at worst (unintentionally?), cruel.

(Yes, at this point anyone can cruise the site; you just have to create a login first.)

Looking for financial advice? “If your mortgage payment has become overwhelming, find a solution,” the site chirps. “You can refinance at a lower rate or downsize to a smaller home.”

Or how about the “Wellness 360” page that’s overwhelmingly devoted to the health benefits of…swimming. Because all minimum-wage workers have regular access to a pool, right? Might as well extol the joys of skiing or the curative powers of yachting while we’re at it.

Then there are the completely generic nutrition tips that would be unremarkable except…they’re coming from McDonald's. “Summer and fall are the perfect time to fill up on fruits and veggies,” one tips reads, which, yeah, sure: Only if the produce is WIC approved.

Incredibly, unbelievably, the site recommends packing your sandwiches with plenty of vegetables (“Roasted veggies and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla makes a great wrap”), grilling (yep, instead of frying), and even skipping pickles, one of the few things that even come close to qualifying as “veggies” on most McDonald’s burgers. After all, they have, “too much salt, not enough nutrients.”

Amid all this, the factoids keep fading in and out at the top of the screen, like some sort of Don DeLillo–meets–George Orwell stock ticker of good living:

“Wearing socks to bed improves circulation and promotes sleep.”

“Keeping your hands busy everyday gives your brain a boost. Try the piano!”

“3 Cheers for Chia: These seeds provide you with beneficial fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.”

So is McDonald’s just totally clueless when it comes to understanding the plight of its low-wage workers? Or does it think so little of them that it assigned some hapless intern to create its “help” site?

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