What A 90-Year-Old Who Works At McDonald’s Can Teach Us About Happiness


A 90-year year Alice Pirnie of Broken Bow, Nebraska, is always a busy pretty woman.


Pirnie has worked for 26 years as a greeter and cashier at McDonald’s and has only recently taken a break due to a grease fire at the restaurant in April.

“The lobby will soon be ready to open again, they’re doing remodeling after the fire,” she said. “I am anxious to get back to work.”

Pirnie works a lunch shift on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and commutes on foot. “I live close, so I can walk unless it’s a severe thunderstorm,” she said. A recent storm forced her to drive, but the rain had stopped by the time her shift ended, so she walked home, forgetting completely about the car. “I went back into the store and told the young kids I work with that I forgot my car. One of the boys said, ‘We didn’t know you could drive!’ Since they always see me walking,” she said with a laugh.

She told HuffPost she couldn’t think of one “worst” thing about working at the restaurant. “I love to take orders from people,” she said. “If I ever have a customer that doesn’t have a smile, I like to give them one of mine.”

How does she do that? “By smiling lots,” she said. “I smile at them until they finally smile back at me. I like to see happy people. Life is better if you can be friendly. To have friends you must be friendly. I just love seeing people.”

“I guess I’m kind of considered the unofficial historian of our Broken Bow McDonald’s,” she said.

Her love of people ― and working ― never wavers. When the question of retirement comes up, Pirnie said she doesn’t think about it. “Every day I have is a gift from God,” she said. “And I love to work. I’ll keep on working as long as the lord gives me good health, and I will just keep on until he tells me it’s time to quit.”


Her work ethic spans decades. She worked first as a teacher, then took some time off to start a family (she has four daughters, four sons-in-law and 11 grandchildren). After that, she worked alongside her husband in a rest home he built with four other men in Broken Bow, and also worked for 15 years at an assisted care and independent living complex.

“If I ever have a customer that doesn’t have a smile, I like to give them one of mine.”

“I love the buttermilk crispy sandwich,” she said. “I like the Quarter Pounder, we have very good salads, and our chicken strips are good. I think all our food is good. I like our sausage biscuits and Egg McMuffins. It’s all good.”

“It’s all good” sounds as much about Pirnie’s outlook on life as it does a fast-food menu. And we could all stand to be reminded of that every so often, right?



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