I will never stop using my student card to get free food from McDonald’s

The most important legacy of going to uni


What’s better than a cheeseburger that costs 99p? Answer: a cheeseburger that doesn’t cost anything at all, a cheeseburger that’s free. 

Maybe it’s our lowered sights and diminished expectations that are kicking in here, but copping a free cheeseburger from McDonald’s with your student card, even though you’re no longer a student, remains one of the purest pleasures available to us.

Your student card has no conceivable use after uni, other than for quartering grams and getting this cheeseburger. There is nothing else for it to do. It is the only legacy from three years of university that’s actually important to me.

This is how the dons do it

This is how the dons do it

Hold on Will, you’re saying, thinking about McDonald’s, thinking about free cheeseburgers, thinking about the way you’d call Anthony a “pussy” for failing to eat more than 16 of the 20 Chicken McNuggets he ordered when you were doing your GCSE’s – don’t they check the date on the card, won’t the expose you as a cheat, a fraud, a criminal?

Here’s the thing – they never check the date on the card. When they say “anything else” you say “the student cheeseburger” and everyone gets on with their lives.

I’m not sure we appreciate how easy it is to steal a small puck of bun, meat, cheese and gherkin from a massive multi-national corporation.

She's probably got a cheeseburger as well

She’s probably got a cheeseburger as well

McDonald’s started as one burger stall in 1948 and turned into a global behemoth with 35,000 outlets. Is there a more optimistic, more American symbol than the golden arches, primary yellow and primary red, a logo that’s brashly confident, childishly irrepressible, luridly recognisable.

But like America, McDonald’s has become bloated and stupid. Stores are closing, sales are falling and most of us would rather have Five Guys once a week than Maccies three times a week, regardless of how simple it is to nick free shit from the place.

Maybe that’s a good thing, after all McDonald’s isn’t exactly healthy and I doubt the people who work there or the chickens that get McNuggeted are particularly happy with their place in the universe.

On the other hand there’s something about the place – the blue trays, the barbeque sauce, the way they still have those muffins that have never been ordered or eaten in a plastic box near the tills, the piped chart music – that reminds me of all the people I used to be, all the people my friends used to be, about being young, about having nowhere to go and nothing to do, things I’m not sure it’s good to lose touch with, things that the free cheeseburger always brings back to me.