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Minnesota man, 88, prepares to retire from McDonald’s job

March 11, 2019

WAYZATA, Minn. (AP) — In Minnesota the past few weeks, it’s taken some doing to find sunshine. Under the golden arches of the Wayzata McDonald’s, finding sunshine is an art.

“I love Art, Art’s awesome. Yay, Art!” Amy Little said as she approaches Art Mason’s drive-thru window.

Little is about get a non-caffeinated bump.

“Good morning,” Mason said with a broad smile as he slides open the drive-thru pay window to greet Little. Two laughs follow close behind — one from Mason and another from Little. The sequence is not uncommon. Mason’s laughter is contagious.

“He is just the sweetest, sweetest guy,” Melissa Wildermuth, another of Mason’s customers, said. “So happy, so happy, like every day’s a great new day for him.”

If McDonald’s had a burger king, Art Mason might well be wearing the crown.

“How ’bout two small Sprites, a Sausage McMuffin and a hash brown?” Mason said as he delivers an order with the enthusiasm of a giddy carnival barker.

Not bad for a guy who retired from his factory job nearly 30 years ago — after which Mason learned something about himself.

“It was good — for three months,” Mason said. “Then I was bored to death.”

So, with one door closed, Mason simply opened another.

The Wayzata McDonald’s had found itself short-staffed. A manager asked Mason if he would be willing to fill in for a couple of weeks. Those two weeks turned into 29 years, KARE-TV reported.

“Twenty-nine years and I’ll be 89 in May,” Mason said. The temporary worker outlasted the owner, the managers and every other employee at the restaurant.

“Didn’t surprise us a bit,” Art Mason’s brother, Stan Mason said. “He’s got to go, he’s got to go.”

Art Mason, who never married, said, “I didn’t have time.”

A social person by nature, Art Mason found the drive-thru to be a perfect fit — a daily parade during which he could repeatedly, and literally, reach out and touch someone.

“McDonald’s has great food, but I come here every day because of him,” customer Patty Kubalak said.

Art Mason’s sister-in-law, JoAnne Mason, points to the warm blue scarf around his neck. “One of his customers made that for him,” she said.

Other customers add to Art Mason’s pin collection. His ever-present ball cap is decorated with dozens of them. Art Mason estimates he’s taken home a thousand more — many from destinations around the world Art’s customers have visited and brought him back a souvenir.

“All around good people,” Art Mason said.

They’re the people Art Mason is going to miss. “Yeah,” he said, looking down. It’s one of the few times the smile vanishes from Art’s face.

“I’m planning on leaving the 10th,” he said. May 10th, two days before his 89th birthday.

The laughter returns, as Art Mason adds, “If I make it that far.”

The hours on the stool at the drive-thru are getting tougher for Art Mason.

“The bones are starting to ache more,” he said.

Art’s leg brace from a childhood bout with polio isn’t helping, either.

Stan Mason asked his brother what he had planned after his second retirement.

“He said, ‘I don’t know, but I’ll find something to do.’” Stan Mason laughs out loud and adds, “No kidding!”

If only everything else in life could imitate Art.

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Information from: KARE-TV, http://www.kare11.com