Someone tried to use us for propaganda just now.
We were standing outside Quincy Market, enjoying the first warm, sunny day of the year, and relishing the fact that two hours had passed without a single call coming our way. I'd parked the ambulance in front of a McDonald's. Every so often, someone would ask us for directions to the Aquarium or to Boston Garden, and that was about the only work we were doing.
A young man came out of the McDonald's. He appeared to be of college age. With his long hair, bell bottom jeans, and sandals, he looked as if he'd stepped right out of the 1960s.
"Are you here for a heart attack?" he asked in a British-sounding accent.
"No," my partner told him. "Why? Did you call to report one?"
"I just figured that you might have come here for a heart attack victim, because so many Americans are obese," he said. "And McDonald's is the reason for that obesity." He pointed to a logo on his t-shirt, which seemed to be an advertisement for a movie of some kind. "I work with these folks," he said. "We're trying to spread the word about McDonald's, and about the American public and their unhealthy ways."
I looked closely at the logo on his shirt. I didn't quite catch the name of the movie, but it looked a lot like Supersize Me. I wanted to tell him that someone had already made a movie exposing the connection between McDonald's and obesity, but I didn't. It had been a pleasant day so far, and there was no point in ruining it with an argument.
What this man didn't know was that I'd eaten in that very same McDonald's just fifteen minutes earlier. I do this four or five times a week. And yet, incredibly, I'm not obese. I'm not even heavy. I've never had a problem with high cholesterol, and I've never had a heart attack. McDonald's cheeseburgers may not be the most nutritious food in the world, but by running long distances every day, walking and biking regularly, and paying attention to the number of calories I consume, I've managed to remain healthy in spite of my frequent McDonald's excursions.
Could it be that unhealthy choices have caused Americans to become obese, rather than McDonald's? Perhaps if people exercised more, and took responsibility for the amount and types of food they ate, then they wouldn't gain weight--even if they occasionally ate fast food.
Not according to our friend. This guy had his own Gospel to spread. McDonald's is deadly. Fast food will destroy the world.
"Sorry to disappoint you," my partner said, "but we've had no heart attacks here today. Say, where are you from, anyway?"
"Really? What part?"
"Are you here for long?"
"Yeah. For a couple of years, at least."
"Well, enjoy your stay."
"Thanks. You should check out our movie some time. When you watch it, you'll see for yourself how McDonald's is killing America with obesity." Confident that he'd helped us to see the light, he turned and strutted away.
I didn't tell him that I plan to eat there again tomorrow.