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Okay, just start with some of the facts: The plaintiff is Louise Ogborn. The defendant is Donna Summers (no names have been changed, these are all legitimate handles). Her fiancÚ and co-defendant is Walter Nix, a 43-year-old exterminator. The judge in the case of Ogborn v. McDonald's is Tom McDonald. Then, when you've finished digesting that, consider the case: An unidentified person posing as a police officer calls a McDonald's in Kentucky and orders the manager, Donna Summers, to detain an 18-year old female employee, Louise Ogborn, whom the supposed police officer accuses of stealing a purse from another customer. We're not quite sure about the background of this particular bluegrass community - perhaps peace officers in Kentucky don't drive cars or leave the precinct house (which in this case is less than a quarter of a mile away), or maybe the accepted civic process for having one's handbag stolen is to quietly leave the area and then call the authorities from home. Regardless, Summers doesn't ask the purported policeman to come to the restaurant but instead complies with his orders, which apparently never seemed bizarre to her over the course of the next several hours.
So, with Ogborn no doubt at least a bit nervous and confused if not downright scared, on the orders of the supposed police officer Summers presents her employee with the option to either subject herself to a strip-search - right there, in the manager's office of the McDonald's, the racks of Happy Meals and the employee restroom not far away - or be taken to the police station.
Now, I can't speak for our readers or even the LAS staff on this, but in all of my years contributing to the global workforce, a paycheck arc that has included everything from the United States Postal Service to greasy bike shops to classy theatres to boutique flower shops to county fairs to magazines and newspapers, I've never been fond of anyone who occupied a role of authority in the workplace. Even when my editors were my friends or my boss was someone who would score potent marijuana in the alley out back, even when they were nice people whom I liked as people, I still couldn't stand anyone telling me what to do when I didn't want to do it. That would be one area where Louise Ogborn and myself differ.
At the time this all took place, in April of 2004, Louise Ogborn was undoubtedly a young woman in her mental prime, an eighteen year-old girl with dreams and aspirations, eyes on the brass ring, and at the time it must have been absurd for her to think of risking her entire career in the fast food industry by lipping off to The Manager of a Mac Shack. Or maybe she'd successfully disposed of her minutes-old fetus in the Holiday Inn bathroom during the prom and was avoiding the fuzz for a while, or perhaps she'd been involved in some pyramid scheme for shower toasters ("save time on your morning wakeup!"), who knows. Whatever the reasons, Ogborn, perhaps simply dropped on her head repeatedly as a child, elected to choose the strip-search in McDonald's over the secure and brightly lit (again, presumably - for all anyone knows in Kentucky the police stations are all converted backwoods moonshine stills) precinct downtown.
At some point after Ogborn disrobed but before anyone else had become involved, Donna Summers remembered a pallet of fish fillets or some faulty salt shakers or something and excused herself from the anti-theft sting underway in her office, but not before realizing she couldn't leave the presumably criminal element of Louise Ogborn alone - after all, who knows what can happen when all you have for backup is a police officer on the other end of the line. So that she could attend to the unchecked items from the McDonald's daily chores list and thus undoubtedly keep the world as we know it from spinning out of control, Summers summoned (you like that play on words?) another employee, Jason Bradly, a man of some 27 years who was flipping 99-cent burgers for a living but had up until then failed to ascend the command chain to Manager, and ordered him to stand guard. Showing a bit of spunk, Bradly refused and then, perhaps to go shoot beer cans in the moonlight down by the creek with his Bible study group, left the building without calling the police or saying a word to anyone.
Then, getting a tingling sense of the universe's delicate equilibrium, the caller who had identified himself as a police officer perceived the pressure that Summers was under and instructed her to call her fiancÚ, Nix the exterminator, to hold down the fort while she restocked the napkins. It was reportedly several hours into the ordeal before Nix the bug man rolled into the dining facility's operations hub, but once there he, supposedly at the previously undisclosed direction of the authority on the other end of the horn, went straight to work. One of the more notable techniques for uncovering the loot Ogborn was accused of carrying somewhere on her person was to have her do "jumping jacks." After complying with the orders to do so - which, depending on the nature of the interpretation, could be in accordance with the letter of the law as outlined in the Kentucky state constitution - Ogborn was no doubt as astonished as Nix and the cops that a woman's purse hadn't parted her labia and plopped on the transfat-splattered floor. Jeesus, she's good, Nix must have thought to himself when not a single item discharged itself from the body cavity of the voting-age girl in front of him. No purse, no used tissues or fingernail files or lipstick, not even a tampon. Nothing came out.
Up until this point the admittedly awkward situation had been escalating, but although she had been ordered out of her clothes, panties and all, Ogborn had been given a greasy McDonald's apron with which to cover herself, however modestly. She has testified in court that she did at one point consider fleeing the scene, but balked at the notion of running naked through a McDonalds. One might find it easy to understand how a young girl, already facing possible charges of theft, larceny, and who knows what in a state where they like to "throw the book at 'em," could totally not need that kind of drama. She may have asked herself what the worst thing that could possibly happen would be and if whatever that was (can a person really be tickled to death?) could possibly make her blush any more than being in her birthday suit at work, but we'll never know. We do know that, as Ogborn has testified, she found the idea of jogging nude past the soft-serve machine and all of those bewildered, Special Sauce-smeared faces to be too "embarrassing" and thus decided to stay put. By then it had become clear to the bug killer and the mountie in charge that it was going to require some Abu Ghraib type shit to crack this particular nut. Here I'll quote a the transcript of an ABC television segment about the incident:
|The demands became more and more bizarre. When Ogborn says that when she failed to address Nix as "sir," the caller tells him to hit her violently on the buttocks over and over. At one point on the video, Ogborn was "spanked" for almost 10 full minutes.
Oh, yes. There's a video. Surveillance is a must when there are countless Big Macs, filets of fish, Quarter Pounders, french fries, thick shakes, icey cokes, sundaes, and apple pies lying around. No need to Google it, I've got the YouTube link right here.
Considering the predicament from a law enforcement standpoint, once Ogborn's ass was as red as a cherry tomato, there was really only one way things could go from there. Bending over was just a formality, calisthenics hadn't produced anything, and not even a thorough paddling of the buttocks for nearly a quarter hour had produced so much as a nickel or paper clip. Ostensibly locked and conceivably loaded, the telephone ranger and his deputy were in hot pursuit, and they were going to have to go in.
Forget the spatulas and waffle cones and whatever else was at hand - a sworn officer of the law would know better than to risk contaminating a staple of the American diet, and perhaps in turn soiling the reputation of one of the world's biggest nutritional providers. No, this operation had to be sterile. Quick on his feet, the police officer on the phone - who had yet to identify himself with a name or badge number, but then again who can blame one of America's first responders for forgoing a few formalities in the heat of a confrontation with a suspected bandit? - realized that Nix's penis had been sheathed the entire time. While perhaps not the ideal instrument - backup wouldn't be arriving for a while, maybe never - it would have to do. At the behest of the presiding officer, Nix proceeded to perform cavity searches on the suspect, beginning with her mouth and continuing, at times with the subject's participation as ordered by the man on the phone, to areas we will, for decency's sake, refer to as the Netherlands. Eventually it would be Thomas Simms, a 58-year-old McDonald's janitor, who would walk in and put a stop to everything some three and a half hours after the phone at the end of 1-800-AIR-HEAD began to ring.
Before we get to the individual players, there's also a bit of back-story on the part of McDonald's, which as far as I'm concerned is a corporate instrument for crimes against humanity. It seems that when the fat peddlers initially went to court with Ogborn they, in the words of Judge McDonald (who may or not own a farm and go e-i-e-i-oh), either exhibited "plausible deniability" or deliberately "hid the ball from the court, opposing counsel and its own lawyers" by failing to acknowledge four prior incidents of the exact same type at other "restaurants" (apparently someone's caught on to the average IQ of fast food workers). In their defense (no, literally - their legal defense) the McDonald's corporation testified to not have any prior knowledge of the four previous episodes, a proposition that Judge McDonald rightfully shot down by noting, "it is inconceivable to the court how somebody could not know of cases in which they were sued."
Although I've been rather hard on bat-brained Louise Ogborn, it is clear that Judge McDonald isn't just going to tell her to get out of his face, order the word CUNT tattooed on Donna Summers' forehead, and have the bailiff take Walter Nix out back for an impromptu wilderness-style colonoscopy with a twisted end of metal pipe. There was an actual court process and there was a sentencing for Nix, and there is an ongoing suit between Ogborn and McDonald's. Sadly, Judge McDonald did not find that Donna Summers should be shaved from head to toe and dropped in the middle of a violently undersexed refugee detention camp full of Australia's unwanted Burmese and Afghanis on the disappearing island of Nauru, but not before being sterilized to eliminate the chance that she breed with a shark and give birth to some retarded sea creature named Long John Silvers Summers. As for Summers' buggy lover, a sentence of several decades locked underground in a lightproof vat full of McRibs and cockroaches would probably have nixed Nix's sex drive, but that wasn't to be the case either.
Look, even if it were a case of Al-Qaeda v. McDonald's, I would be rooting for the plaintiff. This case is especially infuriating since Ms. Ogborn was so egregiously violated in a scam that had not only been perpetrated before but had been brought to light in legal proceedings multiple times, and at the hands of a grown woman no less. It brings a smile to my face to think that the Golden Arches might be forced to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to Ogborn, if not for the sheer thrill of the pig gutting then for the hope that Ogborn might somehow buy herself some common fucking sense. There is no question that Louise Ogborn didn't deserve to have happen to her what happened to her. No one does, or at least very few people. By all counts of her reputation, Louise Ogborn is not one of them. But one has to ask oneself in these cases if Ms. Ogborn wasn't, having gone nearly two decades with an obviously compromised brain without impaling herself on a trampoline or getting inescapably caught in a turnstile or even drinking antifreeze, just sort of tempting fate by working at a McDonalds? I guess we should all be thankful she wasn't in the military, or working in the "entertainment industry."
If Ogborn's story were fiction it would be terribly absurd, some sort of Deliverance retrospective on Dateline NBC directed by Robert Rodriguez and set in a strip mall. But the case of Ogborn v. McDonald's isn't fiction; it is an actual legal contest being presided over a publicly financed court official in a publicly owned building and requiring the services and involvement of dozens of public employees. These incredibly stupid events happened to some incredibly stupid people in this incredibly stupid real world. And that is what makes it so fascinating. Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
Perhaps the final twist in this story is that the man on the other end of the phone claiming to be a police officer, David N. Stewart, had indeed been employed in law enforcement as a prison guard in Florida. Yes, Florida - not quite Alabama or North Korea, but still Florida.
Oh, wait, there's one more shocker - after Louise Ogborn herself recommended leniency to spare her from even so much as testifying, saying "she's already gone though a lot" and that she was "also a victim," Donna Summers was allowed to enter a plea agreement for misdemeanor unlawful imprisonment, which carries no jail time.
Walter W. Nix Jr. was sentenced to five years in prison after he plead guilty to sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and unlawful imprisonment - an initial sodomy charge that carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison was dropped (in Kentuckiana parlance there's also something called "oral sodomy"?). Nix's plea agreement, approved by Ogborn, will lead to probation after serving only part of the sentence.
David N. Stewart was charged with impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy (which is against the law in banjoland) in connection with the Ogborn case, and although there have not been any McDonald's hoaxes since the event three years ago, Stewart was acquitted last summer.
Judge McDonald's jury is currently in deliberation over the evidence in Ogborn's $200 million civil suit against McDonalds.
Any way this shakes out, Louise Ogborn is going to be the victim. And she was victimized, by an adult no less, and at that a woman who might not have been running a day care center but was in charge of something pretty close to it. But someone needs to acknowledge that people like Louise Ogborn do for women what Mike Tyson has done for people of color and George Bush has done for - you can take your pick there: Republicans, white men, the United States, Earth mankind - absolutely nothing but enforce every negative stereotype there is. What about whatever dignity there is left in being a human being - hasn't that been victimized? When will the rest of us, those who will never be entitled to a gargantuan payout from some bloated corporate pus volcano as compensation for our own ignorance, be granted a reprieve from mankind's overruling of natural selection? What about those of us who travel rugged, unpaved trails not because the county commissioner decided lift kits and Super Swamper tires for every pick'm'up truck in the township made more sense than paving them, but for the adventure and exercise? What about us non-dipshits? When will we stop being victimized by the Donna Summerses and Walter Nixes and goddamn Louise Ogborns of the world? What about our pain and suffering? Will it ever end?
SEE ALSO: If you're interested in pursuing this buffoonery further, the absurdly vacuous Ms. Ogborn has a fan blog run by some illiterate hillbilly swamp baby and features such grammatically golden posts such as [the judge] "Tell's them to forget attorney/client privlidge!"
BONUS: A prominent quote from Bullitt County, Kentucky (again, real name), Attorney Walt Sholar came when he defended the prosecution's strenuous recommendations of jail time for Donna Summers regardless of Louise Ogborn's please to the contrary, citing that Ogborn was "emotionally and physically tortured for hours" and that "it didn't matter whether Summers thought she was dealing with police or not... if the president of the United States said to take that child's clothes away and detain her in that room, there was no excuse for it." Tell that to Jesse Spielman and Lawrence Hutchins and Alberto Gonzales and the thousands of other Americans who have been linked with rape, torture and murder in the "war on terror." SEE ALSO: www.mcspotlight.org
SEE ALSO: www.fuckmcdonalds.co.uk
SEE ALSO: www.mcdonaldization.com
SEE ALSO: www.mcdoof.co.uk
SEE ALSO: www.myspace.com/boycottmcdonalds
Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.
See other articles by Eric J Herboth.
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