Ray Kroc and The Open Road

My favorite movie of the past year has been The Founder, a biopic about Ray Kroc and how he took one burger stand called McDonald’s and turned it into the largest real estate company in the world.  Oh, and they’ve served quite a few customers along the way.  Ray Kroc knows a thing or two about persistence.

The movie opens with Ray Kroc, played by Michael Keaton, selling milk shake mixers around the US.  One day, he gets a call that a larger order than usual has come in (much larger).  He assumes the order is a mistake and calls the small restaurant on the West Coast and states they must have ordered incorrectly.  The owner of the burger joint says Mr. Kroc is right.  They actually need to buy even more.  Ray Kroc being a man of opportunity drives immediately from his cozy home in Illinois to San Bernardino where the one and only McDonald’s restaurant is located to visit this prosperous operation.

The rest of the tale is a doozy and one that you should not miss.  However, the next scene when Ray Kroc is driving across the country took my mind in a completely different direction.  The year is 1954 and you need to travel from Illinois to California by car.  What would that journey feel like?  You wouldn’t have GPS, no podcasts or CDs to listen to, and you probably don’t even have a radio in the car.

What was going through his mind for the hundreds and hundreds of miles?  He didn’t know what to expect.  It could have been all for nothing.  Was it lonely?  Did the solitude and open road give him peace or time to think in ways that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible?  Could he have imagined that he would arrive at the restaurant that would change his life and make him a billionaire?

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