February 12, 2014

Hungry Jack’s: Where Kids Are King

Well, let’s get one thing sorted out, Hungry Jack’s in Australia is Burger King in the rest of the world.  BK moved to Australia only to find some no-name burger joint in Adelaide (er, Burger King? – Ed) had already secured the name. I like the name Hungry Jack’s, not least of all because there is an extremely thoughtful and well placed possessive apostrophe between the “k” and the “s” in “Jack’s”.  Which, today of all days, gives me hope, given the appalling misuse of the aforementioned apostrophe on the whiteboard outside my son’s school classroom this very morn’ (noting the use of the apostrophe of contraction in the word ” morn’ ” – Grammar Nazi Ed).

Hungry Jack’s launched in Australia in 1971, just two years before my arrival in this sweet country.  And I was impressed. After all, back in the motherland the only burger franchise I had ever been to was called Wimpey.  When the good folk at Wimpey are  sitting around after being wound up by the creditors they will only have themselves – and the PR agency – to blame.

But I digress.  What I remember most about Hungry Jack’s back in the day, was their PR Campaign: Hungry Jack’s: Where Kids Are King.  What a beautiful thought for my six year old brain.  Kids!  King!  Never mind being heroes just for one day, king for the 45 minutes that we were in that hallowed joint (we were NEVER in that hallowed joint, trust me). They even had a cardboard crown for each child to demonstrate the veracity of their claim.

It was as if, for that small slice of time, for the duration of that fatty slice of mincemeat, salad and refined bun, you – the child – could be in control of the family, shape its thoughts, directions, intentions, mood and goals. You could pester for what  you wanted in here and probably get it.  King!  Not even Prime Minister or President.  Autocratic, riddled throughout with divine right, off-with-their-heads King!

Because in the real world of the family, you had no sway, held no power, took the decisions on the chin and sucked it up.  Such was life in the early seventies.  Over-scheduled?  We weren’t even scheduled. We were under-scheduled.  Great swathes of time washing over us, vaster than empires and more slow.  We were caught between the “Children should be seen and not heard” generation and the “”Children are to be given every opportunity available to succeed at whatever cost it takes” generation; stuck in a railway waiting room for that interminable train to show up and take us to a more exciting destination.

Anyway, there’s no great moral to the story.  Other than the observation that, as someone involved in church as a parent now, the gulf between my experience as a child in church and the experience of a child in church today is Grand Canyonesque: The gulf between who calls the shots now, and where the attention is directed now, wide, wide as the ocean, and high as the heavens above.

But of course church is just amplifying what is true of late modern, well-heeled Western culture.  Kids – it seems – are king, and sometimes the best thing a parent can do about it, is to skulk off to HJs – or more likely McCafe – for a cheap coffee, a slightly stale friand and the chance to plot regicide.

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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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