Several years ago, when I was president of McDonald’s West Coast operations, I needed to meet with a Los Angeles area franchisee before heading back east to Chicago. My driver pulled into the parking lot, where a young African-American security guard was on duty. We nodded at each other — I’m certain I was wearing a suit — as I walked inside.
A few minutes later, the security guard approached the owner and me, prompting us to ask whether there was an issue outside. “No,” he said. “I just want to have a moment to speak to the gentleman here.” We chatted for a few minutes. He was probably in his mid-20s and had just recently returned from two tours of duty in Iraq.
“Thank you for talking to me,” he said. “It’s just that I haven’t seen anybody like you before” — meaning a Black man with a high-level position in corporate America and important enough to have someone drive him around while he worked.