Day 5 – I Never Thought This Would Happen To Me…

20 Sep

that one day I would be actually touring the Forum in Rome. Truly remarkable.

Executive Summary

  1. First I determined why there are so many McDonald’s restaurants in Rome. Somebody call a doctor: I’m having a BigMac attack just typing this.
  2. Next I discovered that “prego” in Italian does not mean “pregnant”. Want to find out what Italians are really saying after you buy them a glass of wine?
  3. I then learned that the coat of arms for the City of Rome is almost identical to the logo for the Foreign Service Workers of Canada. What does it look like? Stick around to find out.
  4. And finally, I managed to solve the mystery of what my job would have been had I been living in the Rome of 2000 years ago. Hint: it’s not what you think!

All of this and more can be found in my Day 5 report.

End of Summary

The Report

My final day in Rome started like all of the others: in a McDonald’s. While waiting for my tour guide (Laura) I was thinking about why there are so many of these crappy restaurants around. Here is what I came up with

  1. it’s cheap
  2. some of the food is not that bad – it’s pretty hard to screw up a coffee-croissant value meal
  3. they put chemicals in the food to make people addicted
  4. when traveling most people crave something familiar – this is the one that interests me the most. Here’s what I mean:

Mental units of energy can be used up just like physical units of energy – and you have a finite supply of each before you need to recharge. When travelling your mental energy is used up doing simple tasks that back home would be completed while your brain was on autopilot. Walking to a tourist destination requires planning (how to get there, when to depart, figuring out what to bring) and constant map checking (getting lost is a real drag, even dangerous). Also in an unfamiliar environment one is automatically on edge with respect to ones physical security.

Deciding what / where to eat can be even more taxing as there are a lot of variables that have to be considered. There’s cost, location, type of food, and dietary concerns / restrictions. And if the meal is supper, chances are most of your mental energy has already been used up during the day’s activities. Plus if you’re traveling in a group, well it gets even more difficult. On top of all this, the possible downsides for eating a bad meal extend beyond the right-now. If you get sick it could mess up your whole vacation. I am aware that eating at McDonald’s makes some people ill regardless, however a large number of North Americans have built up an immunity to their crappy food.

When traveling, everything is different – the street signs, the language, your accommodations, the traffic, the food, the water, the culture. Humans naturally seek new experiences, but when everything changes at once, it can be overwhelming. In a foreign land, at the end of a long day, the idea of eating in an untested restaurant can be too much for some people.

Anyway, just some things to think about the next time you’re overseas and you see a bunch of tourists having lunch in a Rotten Ronny’s: there just might be some logic behind their decision to eat there.

Now moving on, I know a lot of people who want to work for the foreign service. Their logo explains why:

Good thing I was standing. Had I been sitting down I would have fallen off my barstool after seeing this.

In ancient Rome I would have been a brick layer, a brick maker, or a brick carrier.

From what I can tell the Romans had a brick-based economy.

Prego is Italian for “thank you”. As in “Prego for not using your flash”.

Just like my iPhone 3G

Future home to the world’s most awesome tree fort.

Impervious to everything except matches.

8 Responses to “Day 5 – I Never Thought This Would Happen To Me…”

  1. Thea September 20, 2011 at 14:21 #

    Hmm, in my family we would never eat at any McDonalds… just when we would travel towards Sweden, we got shrimps sandwiches on the ferry and later milkshakes at McD, just before we would leave civilization for two weeks of holidays. So it created some kind of a mashed up McD/traveling, traveling/McD experience. As a result I visited McDs in Mumbai, Antalya, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria… and Quebec-City. The only real difference I found, was McD-India… especially the yummy Paneer Baguettes were just great – and vegetarian 🙂

  2. Sara Horton September 20, 2011 at 21:46 #

    Thanks for bring back memories of Rome.

  3. loosy October 2, 2011 at 16:06 #

    Prego is actually Italian for please, not thank you 🙂

    • Die Hard Three October 2, 2011 at 19:46 #

      Are you sure? I should probably check with one of my Italian friends….

  4. Nina October 3, 2011 at 14:13 #

    Prego definitely means please, you should work on your language skills 🙂

  5. Nina October 3, 2011 at 14:15 #

    As for the logo, don’t tell me you have never heard of Romulus and Remus…

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