I made the mistake of venturing into a fast-food restaurant yesterday. I can't describe it as anything other than frightening.
The usual scents of grease and salt were present, the whirring of the air-conditioning and the clanks and splashes of whatever is being turned into "food" in the back.
But the thing that always frightens me the most is the staff. As you get up to the front of the line, uncomfortably close to a morbidly obese and copiously sweating person, a woman apologizing for a spilled drink, a small child doomed to an early death due to poor diet and worse exercise and at the pushy customers and crying babies... you look into the eyes of the man at the register, and you watch a little more of him die inside. He's a man. Not a boy, it's not a phase, this is his life, what he is and what he does.
And it makes you want to leave. To tell him to quit. To take your money and leave, him standing there. So that everyone is silent, and just sits there, thinking about how short life it, how much of it they've wasted, and how little they have left.
But instead, you just hand him the change, take the greasy, salty, overly sweetened food, thank him, and walk out the door with your head down, out back into the sunshine, so that you can forget what it is that you just did.