Someday we can all know if we've eaten 23,000 Big Macs


One story that's been making the rounds in news-lite sections of the newspapers and web sites is all about Don Gorske, a 54-year-old in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, a man who says that his obsessive-compulsive disorder made him eat 23,000 Big Macs in 36 years. He started on May 17, 1972, when he got his first car and never stopped, saving each receipt in a box, avoiding eating them only on one day, he says: the day his mother died, which apparently had been her request. I'm going to assume that he also skipped eating Big Macs during the occasional times the fast food establishment has been closed, like on Christmas, unless he made an extra purchase the day before.

In any case, what's chilling to me isn't thinking of how much money this guy gave to McDonald's, or how many calories he consumed over the years -- look, you have to eat something -- but, no, what scares me is that before too long, we all may be able to do the same thing, without having an obsessive-compulsive order. For instance, back in April, I started using a personal finance web site (due to the whole identity theft fears, I might as well not say exactly what I'm using but Quickenonline is one such type of web site), and now I can tell you exactly how much my wife has spent at Starbucks, and it's not pretty. I can also tell you what we've given to Target, Petsmart, McDonald's, Burger King and other stores and restaurants.

I don't know of any web site that will be so specific to tell me that of the money I spent at Burger King, three of those purchases were for the Angus Bacon Cheddar Ranch Steak Burger, but just you wait. Technology will get there.

I'm not sure that in the year 2044, I'll want to look back and know my spending and eating habits over the last 36 years. But I have a feeling, like it or not, we're all going to be Don Gorske someday.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).