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87-year-old leaving minty job after 22 years

Alice Pedersen, left, is retiring from her job as hostess at the Main Avenue McDonald's in Fargo after 22 years on the job. Dave Olson Forum News Service

By Dave Olson

Forum News Service

FARGO — If you’ve ever been to the McDonald’s on Main Avenue here, chances are you were greeted by Alice Pedersen.

And if you were, more than likely you got a mint and a smile out of the deal.

“I didn’t know I smiled all the time, but I guess I do. I guess that’s why I enjoy my work,” said Pederson, who at 87 is retiring from her part-time hostess job of 22 years.

The restaurant threw her a going-away party Friday, a gathering attended by family, customers and co-workers, past and present.

The well-wishers included Bob Salsman, 82, who said he has breakfast at McDonald’s just about every morning.

“We like it, it’s a gathering place,” Salsman said, adding that seniors are treated well there.

When birthdays roll around, regulars like him expect and get parties thrown for them, Salsman said.

He said since he began coming to McDonald’s about 20 years ago, he and Pedersen have become friends, though he allowed that he’s been trying to get Pedersen, a widow, to go fishing with him for years and that outing is still waiting to happen.

As Pedersen, aka “The Mint Lady,” made her way around the restaurant Friday morning, one customer called out to her, “Alice, how are your wrists doing?”

It was a reference to the two broken wrists Pedersen suffered last summer when she took a tumble in her backyard.

“I had slippery slippers on and down I went,” explained Pedersen, who told the concerned customer her wrists were coming along.

Taking time to chat with people is something Pedersen has always done, said Ryan Anderson, the store’s general manager.

“Even now, she still knows many of the customers by name. She’s always that great face for McDonald’s,” said Anderson, who has been with McDonald’s for about 14 years but is now moving on as well, having taken a job supervising Subways in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Sue Pedersen and Laurie Hanson, two of Pedersen’s four daughters, were among the first to arrive for Friday’s party.

Sue Pedersen said her mother often gets recognized when out and about.

“They say, ‘Hi, Alice, have any mints?’” Pedersen said.

Hanson, who is 58 and plans to retire in February after three decades with the Postal Service, said she recently joked with her mother, telling her, “I’m retiring in four months; you better retire before me.’’

And while it looks like that’s going to happen, Alice Pedersen isn’t leaving McDonald’s for good.

“I’m going to come and eat quite often,” she said.

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