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  • Writer's pictureEdie Montreux

What I Learned Working Fast Food

When I call the days I put myself through college by working at McDonald's "the good ol' days," I know I'm struggling at work. Some people didn't work fast food as teens, and it shows. Here are some events from the past week through the lens of a fast food worker.

Situation One: Consulting the Cashier

If you don't know what you want from me, I can't help you. You're wasting my time helping other customers (or in this case, also you, on other orders) by asking my opinion on what to order, and sharing why what you ordered last time didn't work. Until you're ready to order, I can't help you.

Also, this is FAST FOOD. If you wanted fine cuisine, you shouldn't have put a deadline on it.

Situation Two: Ordering a Whopper

This is not Burger King - it's McEdie's. I can order you a Royale with Cheese, hold the mustard, add mayo and lettuce, but it won't be the same.

Situation Three: We Are Closed

If you and your busload of kids shows up five minutes after we've turned off the grill and put all the condiments back in the cooler, you're out of luck. A deadline is a deadline for a reason. If you missed the deadline, I'm done busting my ass to make it work. If you wanted to eat, you should have met the deadline. I'm sticking to mine.

Situation Four: Try a Little Harder

Me: I'm killing myself to make this work for you. I've worked xxx hours of overtime on this project already.

Them: Yeah, but could you kill yourself faster? We want to finish early so we can pivot these same folks to another project.

Me: Oh, you're not asking THEM to kill themselves by working on both projects at once? How considerate.

Okay. This never happened in fast food. My schedule was my schedule. I left at the scheduled time and never thought about work until my next start time. I worked when I said I would, I took overtime when I needed the money, and the rest of the time, I had class.

That's impossible now. I work when I'm sick. I work nights and weekends to make up for time spent in irrelevant (to me) meetings. I dream about work when I finally get to sleep at night. I fume about work in the shower. I give myself, "You can do this" pep talks in my mirror each morning, prepping for the day's meetings. And yet, when I speak my mind, they look at me like I'm a two-headed alien instead of a human being.

I'm counting the days until this project is over. That's one perk my project assignments have in common with working fast food: I get to graduate and move on.

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