Barbara and Carl Becker used to have a regular routine. A few times a week, they’d visit their local McDonald’s and enjoy a little treat. But then the branch manager said something to them that made them furious. And since that day, they’ve never been back.
The Beckers are an elderly couple from Culpeper County, Virginia. Back in March 2014, Carl was 87 years old, while Barbara was 81. But despite their age, it wasn’t unusual to see the two of them out and about together around town, often on their way for a bite to eat.
The elderly couple have six children plus an impressive 15 grandchildren. But in recent times there had been one thing that they particularly liked to do together, just the two of them. And it was all because Carl, a World War Two veteran, had a penchant for a certain fast food chain.
You see, Carl was a big fan of McDonald’s, and there was one thing in particular that he would always order there. According to Barbara, her husband often chose the “dollar sandwich” when they visited the chain. She told WJLA how Carl “likes to take a break” by visiting the fast food restaurant.
In fact, the couple were regulars at McDonald’s. So much so that they would visit the Culpeper branch of the fast food giant several times every single week. And not only did they enjoy the food, but the pair’s trips to the restaurant got them out of the house and gave them a chance to spend some time in a different environment.
So, for them it served as an enjoyable outing. Sadly, however, something happened in 2014 that changed the couple’s views. It all started regularly enough: the Beckers arrived at McDonald’s as usual and took a seat. But as they were minding their own business and tucking into their food, something bizarre occurred.
While the elderly couple were still enjoying their meal, someone approached their table. It was the manager of the Culpeper McDonald’s branch, and he had something to say to the Beckers. They never expected him to utter something so rude, though.
Speaking to WJLA, Barbara explained exactly what happened next. “He said, ‘You two need to leave now, because your half-hour is up, and we need to clean this floor,’” the 81-year-old recalled. Needless to say, the couple were left in shock.
First of all, the Beckers were still eating. And secondly, they could see that parts of the restaurant were empty. The couple simply couldn’t understand why they were being so rudely asked to leave the branch, especially given that they had been such loyal customers for years.
But it seemed that they weren’t left with much choice. So, the Beckers reluctantly got up after only 30 minutes at the restaurant and left, apparently so that the staff could clean the floor. And perhaps unsurprisingly, the whole experience left a sour taste in the couple’s mouths.
Carl in particular was so annoyed about what happened that he decided to do something about it. Not wanting to let the incident pass, he penned a letter about the experience and sent it to the Culpeper Star-Exponent, the couple’s local newspaper.
“I have had many experiences in my lifetime as a World War Two veteran, a university teacher, a professional engineer, a retiree from the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization at the Pentagon, and the father of six children,” his letter read.
“But none as unusual as being asked to leave a restaurant so they could clean the floor under and around the table where I sat,” Carl continued. And once fellow Culpeper residents heard about the incident, some of them were appalled by the way in which the Beckers had been treated.
One such resident was Ron Frazier, who told WJLA that he was furious about what had happened. Particularly given the fact that Frazier himself had been in the restaurant business for over three decades, he said that asking the elderly couple to leave simply so that staff could clean the floors was “really rude.”
In the end, Carl did receive a response of sorts from McDonald’s with regards to his letter of complaint in the local newspaper. Bob Drumheller, the head of the Culpeper franchise, told the Star-Exponent that he would look into the incident.
“I care deeply about the comfort and satisfaction of my customers. My organization takes these matters seriously and is investigating the customer’s claim,” Drumheller’s statement read. And while the Beckers said that they had never even received an apology, Drumheller claimed otherwise.
But either way, it didn’t matter. By that point, the Beckers had already made up their minds about the restaurant. They vowed never to go back to that particular branch of McDonald’s ever again. Nonetheless, they didn’t want to boycott the fast food chain entirely.
Given that the Beckers’ regular outings to McDonald’s were such an important part of their weekly routine, they told WJLA that they would continue to dine there. They’d just make sure to avoid the particular Culpeper branch where they had been offended.
Moreover, the Beckers’ experience with McDonald’s isn’t the first of its kind to have made headlines. In January of the same year, one of the chain’s New York branches came under fire for asking a group of elderly people to vacate their tables, too. Reportedly, though, the group of Koreans had been sitting at tables for hours without buying much food.
There’s no doubt that what happened to the Beckers wasn’t ideal. But at least they spoke up for themselves and let the restaurant owner know exactly how they felt about the matter. And happily, it seems that the unfortunate incident hasn’t put a stop to the Beckers’ weekly fast food ritual.