When my child got her first job in fast food I was delighted. The world around me said that it was a ‘good start’, ‘it would set her up for her future’. Those things I must agree are very true. However, perhaps it’s not only the training program that has prepped this girl for her future of work, it’s also taught her a thing or two about humans.

What I didn’t account for were hangry humans, horrid humans, entitled humans and downright unreasonable humans. She’s met them all.

We were talking about the types of people she deals with day to day in the fast food industry and (quite frankly) her recount has sparked a solution to that age old problem employers tell me about kids (and often adults) just not being ready for the workforce. Stuff the army – make hospitality mandatory.

One day I picked her up from work and she proudly told me “only five people abused me at work today”. I shook my head at humans, but at the same time had one of those enlightening moments where you feel your kid is going to be OK in the world.

These are SOME of the humans she deals with on a regular basis…

  1. The condescending fast food snob: Surely, there is a support group for such human. They comment on the cleanliness (and sometimes take photos), they share their opinions on the education levels and capabilities of the staff (at the staff), they provide valuable (or not) commentary surrounding how the store could look better, work better, be better (because they know – right??!!) Common quotes: “I could do a better job than you” – “did you listen during maths?” Special talents: Guaranteed to pop up during the busiest times of the day and expert at discovering and pointing out weaknesses. (incidentally, if you aren’t sure if this is you look for the nametag of your server – if it’s hidden already they saw you coming).
  2. The ex-hospo visitor: Similar to the abovementioned person however actually worked in hospitality around 35 years ago for two weeks and has strong opinions on how things should be done with no fear nor filter in sharing them. Common quotes: “Oh, they didn’t do it like that when I worked here” “could you do it any slower?” “did you actually go to school?” Special talents: Apparently everything.
  3. The SPECIAL ones: FRESH it seems is the common denominator here. I agree in theory there isn’t anything wrong with this. However, there’s fresh and then there’s FRESH. They want it fresh out of the fryer, they want it according to their special order. They are special, they are paying and the are right. Or, they just want things to arrive just a little tweak different to the menu, not in a life saving food intolerance kinda way, just because that’s how they like it. Common quotes: “Can I have this fresh as well please” ” salt, no salt, not enough salt, too much salt, extra salt, saltier salt” “minus the avo plus a side of kale shredded, not chopped” Special talents: Making a complaint because fresh took longer or the food combination sucked.
  4. Luddites: My daughter started working in the fast food joint as kiosks became ‘a thing’. To motivate her to take unwilling customers to the new, fandangled machines she was told she’d be given a warning card should she fail to enlighten customers on the new technology. Common quotes: “You know this is going to put you out of a job, right?” “I’m old fashioned” “I don’t trust the government” Special talents: making a beeline for the front counter and standing there until served.
  5. Drunk people:
  • Drunk people requiring special modifications to meal deals
  • Drunk people requiring special attention
  • Drunk people who can’t quite distinguish between the counter, the kiosk and the gutter
  • Drunk people ordering KFC at the McDonalds kiosk
  • Drunk people who order most of the menu at the time of shift close
  • Drunk people who decide to resort to violence
  • Drunk people who think food fights are cool

Common quotes: “argh yoo r bewdiful darlin” “do YOO want fries with that (darlin)” Special talents: Convenient memory loss (particularly interesting when you see them in THEIR place of work the following day.

5. Tantrum throwers: Oh yes, there are little babies of the grown up kind wandering through fast food joints every day. One of my favourite stories was about the (adult) guy who sent his chips back twice because they weren’t hot enough, on the third attempt threw them on the ground and took off on his bicycle. Common quotes: “&HKH**&! (beep, beep)” Special talents: undiscovered.

6. Opportunists: Have you ever been tempted to ask a 15 year old for her phone number as you swing through the drive through? Here’s an idea – don’t. Loser. Common quotes: “What’s your instagram tag” “come here often?” Special talents: denial.

All of this encapsulated in motivational company cries such as “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean” (quite snappy I think).

We really do have a hospitality staff shortage across the country right now. I challenge you to ask if you might just be part of that problem…

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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