The idea of a Burger King establishment enacting a policy that bans customers from returning once they've had an overdose on the grounds sounds like the premise of a particularly cruel The Onion article.
Unfortunately, it's real.
The Burger King in question even posted a sign, which you can see below.
Let's be clear from the beginning:
This one overdose per customer limit is not a rule passed down from Burger King corporate to different managers.
But one particular Burger King in Worcester, Massachusetts decided that they needed to do something about the prevalence of drug use in their establishment.
According to WBZ, "It’s common knowledge, people do use those restrooms to do that sort of thing. There have been overdoses in there."
And this is the sign that attracted the attention of police and, of course, of the internet.
"You are ONLY allowed ONE overdose and then you are banned from this establishment."
Obviously, a number of critics -- regardless of their opinions on the opioid epidemic that our nation faces -- were shocked that a manager would even hang this in the first place.
The internet exists. Signs don't stay secret.
On a surface level, the policy itself seems fair. If someone gets caught overdosing in a fast food place ... it's a business. You don't need people nearly dying from drugs and frightening away customers who are there to eat food.
If this were a shelter, someone might have a point in saying that the policy isn't compassionate. But Burger Kings are not shelters. They're restaurants. Let people eat their delicious onion rings in peace.
At the same time, the way in which the sign was written -- the phrasing -- made it sound almost permissive.
As if Burger King is fine with drug use within the establishment up until you overdose. Then and only then do they draw the line.
Obviously, that does not reflect Burger King policy.
Now, let's be clear -- this sign wasn't put up for no reason.
Between September of 2016 and September of 2017, this particular Burger King was the site of nine different overdoses. And, quite frankly, those are just the ones that got reported.
The problem is very real.
But the sign is not, um, the answer.
Police met with the manager in order to discuss, you know, better solutions.
Even people who are 100% in support of ending the prohibition of drugs and drug use, both because it's the right thing to do and in an effort to end the current opioid epidemic, don't think that people need to be shooting up or whatever inside of a Burger King.
And groups who work to support and advocate for those who are battling addiction agree, saying that signs like this one "don't help."
A Burger King spokesperson, whom we would like to imagine as a town crier reading out a royal edict, said:
"The actions of this Team Member were an isolated incident and do not reflect the Burger King brand values or the values of the Franchisee, who independently owns and operates this restaurant."
Like many fast food chains, Burger King operates with a sort of ... Burger Feudal system.
At the top is Burger King itself, the corporate entity. Beyond that are franchisees, whom we might consider to be "Burger Barons." Then there are store managers, who are like vassals -- or Burger Knights.
"The Franchisee is investigating this incident thoroughly and will take the actions they believe are appropriate."
In other words, a manager is going to have some explaining to do to a rich person who probably owns a number of these places.
As a general rule, big companies do not like having to explain why one manager said or did something dumb.
Burger King itself doesn't really deserve this bad press.
In fact, that they've kept a restaurant in such a troubled area to continue to serve the locals is commendable.
Different people will hold different opinions on how people struggling with addiction should be treated. Some want them thrown in prison, others want them sent for treatment. Others still believe that it's their right to take these substances -- even if it kills them.
But absolutely none of those people think that people have any business overdosing in a Burger King.