I really enjoyed reading The Year of the Flood over Oryx and Crake. The story telling was much more intriguing and fast-paced than the first novel. Amongst the many elements Margaret Atwood incorporated in the sequel, Toby’s experience at SecretBurgers is what spoke to me the most, as well as angered me above all things. The conditions she succumbed to were horrendous, and sadly, she barely had no way out. Let’s not forget that Blanco was the worst part of it all. He played a big part in washing away the little bit of dignity Toby still had during that period of time in her life. Though her stay at SecretBurgers was simply in the early chapters, I look back on it and still feel mad only hoping that she would have spoken up or rebelled before AdamOne’s appearance.
Not needing identity or further information on Toby, her job is a reflection of the battered compounds she has no choice to settle in. Though her sexual abuse, she was demanded to work overtime without any lunch breaks. If it were me, I would have been gone in a flash. In this case, fear and dominance played big factors in her decision to stay. Blanco. Blanco. Blanco. As dumb as his name sounds, through him, Atwood depicts the hidden truths of fast food corruptions of the real world.
Take a look at this website: http://www.alternet.org/economy/10-worst-things-about-working-fast-food-and-retail . It briefly enumerates the problems there are with the industry, and if you can remember correctly, you will find which ones correspond to Toby circumstances the most. (Trigger Warning) Sexual harassment is number one in this case and is a prominent problem in SecretBurgers, undeniably. “Over one third of sexual harassment complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission were filed by women working in restaurants.” With Blanco, he is relentless, not forgetting that he is capable of quickly disposing the disposable.
As a McDonald’s employee myself, being overworked under stressful conditions is a task worthy of a break. Certainly, there is a sentiment of feeling like you are replaceable or disposable. What reassures me is that I can speak against such actions, however I only wish Toby would’ve done the same had she not been brutally oppressed by Blanco. Then again, already immersed in an illegal fast restaurant chain, such a complaint would probably have worked against her.
All in all, I believe AdamOne saved her life by recruiting her, however for the sake of being petty, Toby should have given Blanco a harsher punishment he deserved than she did when they meet again toward the final chapters. All this to say that silence has the power to cast you away, and Atwood does phenomenally in depicting how oppressive and abusive conditions may freeze you in silence, but also cage you in, in the process.
Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. Vintage Canada: 2010.
Luce, Stephanie. “10 Worst Things About Working in Fast Food and Retail” Alternet, 13 December 2013. http://www.alternet.org/economy/10-worst-things-about-working-fast-food-and-retail. Accessed 4 April 2017.