Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the McDonald’s hamburger of humanity—an obscenely dry, flat thing that hides its own curious nature with a slathering of condiments and toppings. Both man and burger represent the incredible wealth and ubiquitous extremes of modern consumerism, neither supplying enough to aid either individual or society. Both have wormed their way into the world’s economy and become synonymous with the often unfulfilling nature of the modern workplace.
McDonalds is rarely a brand of choice. It’s objectively not great. The world’s second-richest man’s latest tweet exemplifies this fact. The only reason to consume such garbage, and to create social media buzz about it, is to support your personal brand. On Sunday, Bezos tweeted the decrepit carcass of what was left after he chowed down on Mickey D’s meal.
The burger and fries were dissected, apparently. The chicken nuggets were left untouched. “Still the same great burger,” he wrote while letting the left over mayo linger at the bottom of his box like a couple bird droppings dried on a car windshield. The man reportedly “has a lack of interest in music of any kind,” so it makes sense his tastebuds would be similarly underdeveloped. Still, if you don’t think even this small tweet was a calculated move on the Amazon founder’s part, then you haven’t paid attention to how long he’s cultivated his own personal brand.
“My first job,” he writes. Indeed, Bezos worked at a McDonald’s when he was young, only 16. But his first job? That’s not if you count the family farm on his mother’s side, called the Cotulla ranch located outside San Antonio, Texas. He spent many summers there with his grandfather, according to the Amazon head in interviews. The way he talks about that youth combines the rough outlined elements of pastoral exceptionalism—“If you’re in the middle of nowhere in a rural area, you don’t pick up the phone and call somebody when something breaks. You fix it yourself”—along with a sense of learned business superiority. “Resourcefulness” helps you know what customers want, he has previously said.
This focus on “resourcefulness” always comes with a tint of something more, an antagonistic disposition toward low-level workers. Amazon’s warehouses are awash in working condition complaints. Workers often plead for safer working conditions, but disciplinary actions are routine at many a workplace. A recent report showed Amazon higher ups brought 13,000 disciplinary actions against workers at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, New York. Bezos also does not appreciate the resourcefulness of some employees working to unionize.
You see, Bezos wasn’t explicitly born into wealth. His mother was a 17-year-old waitress and his father, Ted Jorgensen was a bike shop owner who wanted to become a star on the unicycle circuit. After his father left his family and newborn son to pursue his one-wheeled fantasies, his mother—Jacklyn—later married Miguel “Mike” Bezos, a Cuban immigrant and self-starter. The billionaire Bezos took his stepfather’s name, and obviously has a deep connection to the man, often praising the man’s self-reliance and willingness to take risks by leaving Fidel Castro’s Cuba.
But all this about a 16-year-old Bezos’ famed stint in a lowly McDonalds, flipping burgers and reportedly brainstorming improvements to the workflow, according to Cody Teets in her 2012 book Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers that Began at McDonald’s, noted by Business Insider. He reportedly told the author that “The manager at my McDonald’s was excellent. He had a lot of teenagers working for him, and he kept us focused even while we had fun.”
Bezos did not learn from his old boss. He has reportedly called those under him “lazy,” or “incompetent,” or tells another worker “If I hear that idea again, I’m gonna have to kill myself,” according to The Secrets of Bezos: How Amazon Became the Everything Store. While buying up any and every company they possibly could, Amazon and its founder worked to disrupt various markets and are fighting tooth and nail to fend off antitrust legislation in the U.S. The company and all big tech companies might very well succeed in pushing back against any real antitrust legislation, as long as it remains stalled in congress.