I like the old McDonald’s and other places of the past

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readJan 8, 2024
In a time now long gone, kids used to play inside the Hamburglar jail.

In a coffee shop where I like to do my writing, a small group of people broke into a Spanish worship song. I didn’t expect it but it was nice to hear. The group didn’t look like a religious group. They didn’t have big Bibles with them, and they weren’t wearing crosses. They were just people.

This coffee shop is in Mexico, and as I peeked up from above my laptop screen, I noticed that the folks looked like a mixture of Americans and Mexicans. Maybe there were others too. In between their singing, they shared short messages. I couldn’t hear them too well and I wasn’t sure what they were saying.

They weren’t always singing in tune, and some didn’t know the words to each hymn but they managed and, more importantly, knew that their flaws were what brought them together. These days, we let our flaws keep us apart.

I like coffee shops and places that let you be yourself. Places where you can walk in and say big hellos to the ladies behind the counter. Places where the regulars are happy to see the newcomers. Places where a small table of folks can bring into quiet worship and no one will be bothered.

It seems like these places aren’t too common anymore. People come and go quickly. The doors are revolving now making it easier to get out as fast as you came in. The ladies behind the counter are nameless. The purchases are done on an app or computer screen hanging on a wall. The only reason you walk into places anymore is because it is required. Soon enough, it won’t be.

Maybe that’s not true everywhere. Maybe it’s not that way outside of the sterilized and characterless future of American society. Maybe you can walk into a coffee shop in Mexico or somewhere even farther away to find people you have to talk to when ordering and hear people singing because that’s how they start their mornings.

In the 1990s, when I wasn’t of legal age to do anything yet, Tata Abram loved to let us hang out with him at the McDonald’s. The old McDonald’s, not the new one. The old one where you had to go up to the counter…



Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting. I write about them and what makes them interesting.