Monday, December 19, 2011

The Golden Opportunities of Fast Food! [Edited]

It is only by the Will of God that you will Get Through This.
There comes a time in every bastard's life when his parents point out how poor they are, and tell him that he has to grow up and get a job.

For me, that commentary came alongside the revelation that working as a soccer referee for two years during my teens did not exactly constitute a “real employment history,” and lacking contacts to other jobs I was left with but one solution: Fast Food.

So, I got a job with the Yum Corporation at a Taco Bell not too far from my home. I road my bike there for two years, working nights while trying to survive my first few semesters of City College. I'd arrive on the premise at 4 PM, and look forward to riding home at 3 AM... If I was lucky. The store officially closed every day at 11PM-12 AM, depending on what day of the week it was, but getting out meant that the entire place had to be cleaned. The day shift was always “too busy” to clean up after themselves, and so we'd end up doing it: regardless of how busy we'd been that night, or how much shit was left to be done.

Every night, you'll wish this happens.
There are some things you should know about going to school and working at a Taco Bell:
  • We'll work with your school schedule!”
Your employers will tell you this. What this means is that, in exchange for having the time when you're in class unscheduled, they'll be calling you in every time you have a day off. Don't expect to have friends, and don't expect to have any time to yourself. Except when you're sleeping.
  • This management position is an opportunity!”
Those words are your doom, kid. If you listen to them, you can look forward to a 50+ hour work and dropping out of school. Who survives 50 hours of Taco Bell management and goes to school? Fucking no one, that's who. But the Yum Corporation and its acolytes will knowingly try to get you to take up that position of responsibility, complete with lines about how much more you'll be making. Which is where it gets funny, because that pay raise might be between 10 cents and three bucks. Don't expect to make more than 13 dollars an hour, unless you spend a lot of time accumulating raises as a team member and then take the “opportunity” that's offered.
  • We'll pay for your school!”
But only if you take business courses, and only if you pass. See the above warnings and then apply them to this.
  • We have scholarships for team members!”
They also have something like 2 million team members in the U.S. alone, if not more. You're not getting the one scholarship that they offer and pluralize to make themselves look good.

There are some things you should know about working at Taco Bell, period:
  • People are going to treat you like crap, routinely.
Just accept that you'll be yelled at for things that aren't your fault (“I told you, no onions on my burrito!” - Especially funny when you're the cashier. Because I totally made your food, Hoss. Hey, Bong, spit in that guy's fucking burrito, will ya?)
Just 89 cents! Wow, why don't we buy 60$ worth! Through the fucking Drive Thru!

  • People are going to regularly order 60$+ dollars of food and then expect it through the drive-thru.
They will never want to pull over. Most of those doing this will be well over 300 lbs., they will have ordered an extra-large Diet Pepsi (because, really, that'll help the calorie intake!), and they will want to flatten your face if you ask them to pull around to the front of the store, because other people want food, too. You can look forward to two or three of these folks on a good week. You can look forward to one a night on a bad week.
  • People are always “sick” when they ought to be at work.
What's better than coming in to your place of employment to find it trashed, and knowing you'll be held responsible for that state of affairs? Having your team-mates call out constantly. See, Taco Bell also keeps track of what they call “Employee Turnover” and rates a team according to how low that state of affairs is. So, people just claim to be sick nigh-endlessly, and never get fired. You end up short staffed – sometimes just a cashier and a manager trying to get by, and watch the amount of time you'll be cleaning things increase after work. I actually quit the job on a day when we had two people there, and we'd just had a 350 lbs woman (whose stomach caved in around the steering wheel of her SUV, she was so fucking huge) order 60$ of food and scream at me. It was the combination of knowing I would not be seeing my then-girlfriend that night, being screamed at by yet another idiot, and knowing that this state of affairs would continue until I did something about it.

So I declared, “FUCK THIS SHIT!” and went to get a better job.

Listen to me, if you be a young bastard looking for employment: It is only a job. Do not give them your heart or your soul. It's not worth it. Do not let them make you more responsible for anything. The whole point of this tactic is so the corporate wankers with BMWs and Benz's have someone to hoist all the blame on, while looking good themselves. Do your time, and get the fuck out. Fast Food is not an opportunity, it's a trap. You spring the trap and then get free as quickly as possible. But you don't ever remain.

However – and I know this works because I almost caused a riot at a company party one night by suggesting it – you can annoy your bosses easily and often. This is the only pleasure you'll find in the job, alas. Thus, when they ask what your “team name” should be? Vote for the “Wage Slaves.” It makes them freak out every time.

(The corporate individual veto'd our – by all accounts winning majority vote for being the “Wage Slaves” – and thus I was for a time part of Taco Bell “Team Fairy.” … Sigh.)

EDIT: I got a bit of back chatter a little bit ago via Facebook private messages about my cruelty towards the Obese in this entry. So, I feel compelled to apologize to anyone that felt insulted by my comments. It's not my intent to mock the obese.

There are a few things I learned very quickly working at Taco Bell. The biggest was that new items are driven by tests establishing how often people will return for an item. In a sense, the more addictive the food is to you, the better it will sell. And so, top chefs (I use those words with amusement) put together these items and market them out. People try them out at various corporate locations (stores, corporate offices, test pilot shit that team members never see) and the higher they rate with the public in terms of taste and a desire for the repeat, the more they get brought out as new items.

We wanted to sell you the closest equivalent of food-crack that we could. It doesn't matter how bad it is for you, how it will affect you if you eat too much, etc. These just aren't concerns. The concern is that you spend as much fucking money on us as possible. Then we would pull those items off the market for 6-8 months, and cycle them back in again later. This would often upset many people, who felt entitled to their crack. It made things unpleasant, to say the least. "We just don't have that," was never taken happily as an answer. In some cases, we couldn't even approximate the product, because it came with unique ingredients that we wouldn't carry any longer. People would throw fits about this, as if whoever they were whining to could fix it.

But. The addictive part of this business is what I'm talking about. It created a very unhealthy dynamic between workers and those they're serving on many occasions. People would be upset it was taking too long to get their food. They'd be upset because they lacked their fix. Sometimes, they just had bad days and took their anger out on you. I was a cashier for those full two years, and so I was always a half-assed public relations consultant. I was paid because I had curly, golden locks and  a winning smile. And hopefully, I could convince you to calm down, fix the problem, etc.

But then, there are just some people who feel entitled to looking down on you. Ironically, they're not always the rich or those in expensive cars. Often, they're obese, or lower class (based on what they're wearing and driving, which is hardly concrete proof), or... Whatever. I had a few goths get on my case for working for the man once, even. It was somewhat funny, honestly.

But the more the other person might be used to being treated like crap (such as for being fat), the more likely they were to go nuts on you. And for some reason, half the people ordering too much food and expecting instantaneous results had a higher likelihood of being poor or larger in weight. I have no idea. They also had the highest chance of flipping out on you over something.

If you're larger in weight, and I can say anything to you, it's this, I hope. Avoid fast food. It was created to make you fat, feel terrible, and keep coming back for more. I know it's hard, but find a way to fight the habit. Because it will fucking kill you in the end, just like smoking cigarettes or drinking too much will. In the end, the choice is yours. But if you choose to continue an addiction to fast food, please. Please, please, please. Be nice to the poor folks that work there. They aren't paid crap. They get treated like shit all day. They're struggling, just like you. And they don't need you screaming at them about some small error or another. Most - anyone with sense - will want to correct the error, if you ask. You don't need to fucking scream at them about it.

And don't ever order more than $30 worth of food in the drive-thru. That's just fucking lazy, and annoying. Be an adult and walk inside the fucking restaurant and wait like a decent human being. You lazy fucking wanker.


Harold Roth said...

Team Fairy. Sheesh. My first real jobs were as retail clerk. Luckily, this was back when dinosaurs ruled, so we didn't have any of that "team" crap.

I started out a good worker but by the mid-seventies, I was so cynical and nasty that one year I burned through 35 jobs. Quit/fired about 50/50.

Scylla said...

I was technically an employee of a fast food joint (I refuse to name it, for fear they'll find me) for over a week without ever appearing for my job once.

I was a week-long no-call, no-show, with no phone number, a fake address and no transportation. And they didn't fire me.

I quit one day when I went in for food, and remembered I had applied, "interviewed" and was hired to "start on monday." - all while probably a hair away from being dead of alcohol poisoning.

Which is why I didn't remember any of it.

So yes, it's true... you can pee in someone's eyesocket while "on the clock" and simply be reminded where the bathroom is, and to expect a raise the next week.

Morgan Eckstein said...

The joys of working for Taco Bell sound almost identical to the joys of working at Burger King.

Anonymous said...

Calories in the largest Pepsi Taco Bell sells: 500. Calories in a 7-layer burrito: 500. Calories in the largest DIET Pepsi Taco Bell sells: 0.

Sure, you aren't going to lose your weight just because you choose diet pop if you still eat the same crap; but it's an important first step.

Jack Faust said...

@Anon: I won't argue with those statistics. But I still think a better first step would be to avoid fast food and use the money saved on a gym membership.

Jason Miller, said...

Never worked fast food, but AMEN AMEN AMEN

I hate the fucking people that order family meals at the drive-thru.

Can't stand when people yell at the staff. Especially when in most cases there is not a damn thing they are doing wrong.

Mr Black said...

Lol, nice one - this sounds like my brothers at Taco Bell. One just quit and the other one is trying to get as much days off as possible.

When I was working in fast-food, I had a good run (this was when I was in high-school still so the currency was females, yum) - till the owner started jerking me around so I just walked out on them on their busiest time. :P

P.S: I also, dislike, immensely - people who order ginormous meals in drive-thru.

petoskystone said...

People who feel that they don't have any control/power over their own lives as the ones who screech loudest over the petty-ass shit.

Lance Foster said...

I never worked for a fast food place, but my sister worked for Wendy's and my brother for Burger King ("bugs-n-things"). The stories they told!

We all (at least those of us who are working class aka poor) have shit jobs when we are young. I was a dishwasher and hated it. I hated food period when i worked there, the stink never got off you, no matter how much you bathed

Yeah, fast food is crack. It is "the drug of choice" for many who don't recognize it as a drug (along with TV). I am so poor now, I can't even afford fast food more than once a month or so, so that's one good thing about being poor. Realize the rage-fits some of those people have is the drug talking (and I think you do realize that)

Also, the older you get, if you have a tendency to put on weight when you were young, it will be your doom when you hit middle age. I used to be able to lose weight easily even into my 40s, but now that i have hit 50, it is almost impossible, even with walking every day and pretty much never eating junk food. i am fat, and need to lose weight, and it is a long story, but at least i have been in other working people's shoes and remember how much it sucks.

i especially feel sorry for those sad-eyed old 70-yr old retirees who have to slave at a fast food place because there is no such thing as retirement for lots of old people anymore. if you think it is hard being on your feet, working fast, dealing with shitheads, and you are dead by the end of your shift, at age 20, think about what it will be like at age 50 or 70. i am amazed there aren't more suicides

i am also amazed that magicians don't use magic to drop weight and get healthier. how many overweight sorcerors do you know? a perfect goal for one's magical aspirations, i'd say. Start with binding one's "hunger-demons"...hmmm. Sounds worth trying.

Rose Weaver said...

Excellent read, funny too. I laughed because I can identify with most of what you said. I never worked at a fast food place, per say, but did work at a semi-fast food restaurant once, also as a cashier. I also worked at a bowling alley doing double duty; slinging burgers on the grill, and as the cashier, and I found myself nodding as I read your entertaining account.

I think I need to show this one to my niece. Her first job was at a fast food place very similar to Taco Bell. Poor kid didn't last long for many of the reasons you mention. And even if I happen to have a few extra bucks in my wallet, the stories she told me about her time there are the reason I no longer eat at any fast food joint.

Christopher Bradford said...

I did my time at Pizza Hut when I was a young'un. Great post, man. The worst part is the how they trick people into becoming lifers; lies about opportunity and the like. Nowadays, my view on working management and the like for them have changed a bit. Money is money. If I were broke, I'd do what I have to do, haha. Still, weak how folk are treated in these businesses.

the Valentines said...

I sold weed. None of these problems.