I’m always interested in people at work. I began to think a lot about fast food workers and wonder about their lives – and so I made some efforts to photograph them. They are mostly kids and put on big smiles when you face them with a camera. The Sonic Drive In I went to was a lot looser than the McDonalds I got access to, but they were both interesting places and I felt a lot of empathy for the workers in both.
I was pretty amazed at the food people were ordering at Sonic especially – lots of huge containers of surgery shakes drizzled with caramel, various sweet toppings, and finished with a cherry. The burger and fries seemed to be the healthy option for more responsible eaters.
I took some prints back to the Sonic to give to the people I had photographed. This girl, who had been expressionless and a little dour when I was shooting the others, had put on this beautiful smile when I photographed her. When I came inside to find her and show her the print I had brought her, she looked at me as if I were a child molester. This hurt my feelings, as I had gone to some trouble to make the prints and bring them, and all I really wanted was that same smile and a “thank you.” I thought a lot about what kind of life she’s had to make her react the way she did.
“We’renot bad people, we’re just strange people, you know what I mean?”
Quote from a tobacco farmer in far western Marshall County who let me photograph his Mexican workers.