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The Hamburglar Of Passion

The Steve Easterbrook Story should be a movie soon on Hallmark, as soon as Hallmark develops an X-rated romance channel.

The movie? Call it "The Hamburglar of Passion."

In the meantime, we must console ourselves with unintended real-life comedy taken to the heights - or maybe lowest depths - of American capitalism.

Occasionally it's good to be reminded that some people have everything. And you? You have nothing and are worthless. But the world always finds a way to get even.

Money can't buy smarts, when sex is involved.

Easterbrook's tale is a real schadenfreude knee-slapper, and amusingly ironic in an era when elected officials gather ominously at microphones, and lecture everyone about greedily hoping for extended $600 unemployment benefit checks.

In any case, Easterbrook's tragedy is hilarious, and I enjoy slapstick comedy as much as any connoisseur.

Easterbrook is Charlie Chaplin in better suits. Easterbrook is also a Brit comic.

First things first. In 2018, McDonald's and its 2,000 headquartarians moved into the new glistening nine-story world headquarters at Randolph and Carpenter Streets.

Goodbye, Oak Brook. Hello, West Loop. Huzzah!

Easterbrook was the ringmaster of the profitable circus for nearly five years.

As Easterbrook proclaimed that day: "Our move back home to Chicago is about more than a building - it's symbolic of our journey to transform our brand and become more closely connected with our customers."

"Symbolic journeys" always "transform." It's a rule, I think.

Well, there's the nut of the problem, right there.

When Easterbrook talked about "more closely connected," he was not intentionally referring to the CEO having sex with almost everyone in the company who would say yes. Easterbrook was, as they say, busy.

So McDonald's fired Easterbrook for a single inappropriate relationship, bad judgement, and dispatched his $17 million salary package late last fall.

Easterbrook's paycheck that year - plus the $60 million he'd gotten as CEO for five years - constituted the most expensive consensual sex in the history of consensual sex.

That's SOME expensive piece of . . . well. It's a lot of money per orgasm.

McDonald's might have trouble with pickles and ketchup. But sex? That's sort of a surprise.

But McDonald's wasn't so morally outraged by the "sex problem" that it denied Easterbrook a $40 million golden parachute.

Other fired workers get perp-walked to their cars in the park-ing lot by an armed security guard. Easterbrook's exit was somewhat more genteel. For that parachute, there's little chance he'd return in a huff wth an Uzi machine gun and settle scores.

No accusatory "fired for cause." Just leave. So he did. And thanks for playing.

He did have to turn in his key to the executive washroom.

Easterbrook's exit was logistically convenient. He was within walking distance of his $2 million bachelor apartment in the Loop.

But now McDonald's has found what it says is evidence of three other in-house doinking situa-ions with Easterbrook. And, horrors. Easterbrook lied about it all.

McDonald's, viewing itself as both police and court, says such evidence was withheld from the jury. The bailiff is Ronald McDonald. Mayor McCheese will serve as judge.

So McDonald's wants its $40 million back and is suing to get it. The legal theory, one supposes, is that we were too mindless to pay attention to what you were doing. How were we supposed to know you were untrustworthy, except that's why we fired you in the first place?

We can anticipate that Easterbrook's defense will be some version of "finders keepers, losers weepers."

There appear to be massed phalanxes of well-heeled board members and senior managers at McDonald's who don't pay much attention to anything. Or perhaps don't wish to pay to attention, because it's messy.

This all happens in a contentious period for a company that is being sued by employees for condoning sexual harassment in the workplace.

Florida McDonald's workers have filed a $500 million class-action law-suit against McDonald's, alleging the fast-food giant has a "systemic sexual harassment problem." The suit was filed for 5,000 women who worked at the 100 corporate-run McDonald's locations in Florida since 2016.

There are similar lawsuits in virtually every country where McDonald's put up its golden arches.

McDonald's defense? We don't allow that sort of thing. But it appears that McDonald's did allow that sort of thing, if your name was Steve Easterbrook.

But the culture under the Golden Arches - now under command of crisis management paratroopers - poses another question.

Capitalism implies that Easterbrook deserved his money in part because the job was so complex and all-involving. Only an obsessively focused business genius could do it.

That theoretically is why we pay generals more than corporals.

But that supposedly was also true for the career of media big-wigs Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes and Matt Lauer.

Big job. Big money. How difficult were their media jobs?

Jobs might not be as complex as we've told when there is plenty of spare time and energy to chase sexual partners on the job. How busy were these guys, aside from sexual pursuits?

Notwithstanding scruples and damage to employees, it's a time-management question.

It makes me tired just thinking of how much work it might take to manage three romantic affairs simultaneously when you're keeping them all separate.

But don't expect the fun of an Easterbrook civil trial.

The Easterbrook imbroglio has "settled out of court" written all over it. The "non-disclosure agreement" will be written in O-Negative blood with a plasma chaser.

The genius "Hamburglar of Passion" is safe. He and Chaplin will waddle into the sunset each carrying a satchel of money.

And they'll probably laugh at the zany joke.


Recently by David Rutter:

* Kris Bryant's Future Bar Trick.

* Mansplaining To A Millionaire.

* Status Check: Chicago Sports.

* The Week In WTF Redux: Blago Is Back Edition.

* What Is A Chicagoan Anyway?

* Glenn Beck's Turn In The Volcano.

* Only Science Will Bring Back Sports.

* I Loathe The Lockdown Protestors.

* Reopening Books.

* A Return To Abnormalcy.

* I'm Having A Down Day Emotionally. Here's Why.

* So Long, Jerry.

* A Special "Trump's Bible" Edition Of WTF.

* 5 Things An Angry Old White Man Wants To Say.

* An ANTIFA American Hero.

* The Fonz Lives And Franco Is Dead: News You Can't Use.

* Gone With The Wind: My Lost Cause.

* How To (Pretend To) Negotiate A Labor Deal.

* The Mystery Of Mitch's Missing Motivation.

* Dave's French Foreign Legion Tour Of Chicagoland.

* Remember The '85 Bears? Actually, No You Don't.

* On Boredom.

* Wherever Rod Moore Is, I Hope He's Safe.

* Blackhawk's Life Mattered.

* A Blackhawks Proposal.

* Launching College Football.

* Tom Hanks Meets His Match.

* The Truth About Hamilton.

* Goodbye, Columbus.

* Who Mourns For Basie?


David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.


Posted on August 10, 2020

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