As many of you know, I decided to get a second job while I’m living in Nova Scotia. Though I was fortunate enough to secure a job in my field within months of graduating from school, I felt that a second job would be beneficial in a number of ways. First of all, I have debt to pay off (from school and my car). Second, I have free time. Third, I have few connections to the small community in which I currently reside. Therefore, a second job would give me something productive to do in my free time, it would help me pay off some of my debt, and it would allow me to meet more people in the community.
As a result of this decision, I’ve been working a part-time job in the fast food industry for 7 months now, in addition to my full time job in speech. Some of you may recall, I also worked in fast food for a while when I was in high school.
Typically, most shifts are at least somewhat enjoyable, and the people with which we interact come in such a variety that it keeps things interesting. However, this is not always the case. Some patrons can cause frustration, grief, and even mid-shift emotional breakdowns.
I’d like to propose a few ground rules in the form of a letter to all those who are, or will be at some point in time, a patron of a fast food restaurant:
“Dear fast food patrons,
First of all, I want you to know that we appreciate your patronage. We appreciate that your hunger has lead to an income for each and every one of us. Thank you. And we really do hope that you enjoy your meal.
However, I would also like to propose a few ground rules for you to abide by throughout the process of ordering, paying for, receiving, and consuming your meal. Whether you are a patron of the drive thru or inside the restaurant itself, following these few simple rules can make everyone’s day a little better.
- If something in your order is wrong, simply let us know. Don’t yell. Don’t make a scene. Don’t swear at us. Tell us it is wrong, why it is wrong, and let us fix it.
- Don’t be an animal. It is not okay to climb over tables or booths. It is not okay to put your feet up on the table. You wouldn’t have someone do that in your kitchen, so why is it okay for you to do that at someone else’s place?
- Don’t yell at the person working for minimum wage. Chances are, this minimum wage job is likely not their dream job. Perhaps it is a stepping stone for the person who longs to work in the hospitality industry one day. Perhaps it is someone’s way of putting them self through school. Perhaps it is the only job which allows them to work flexible hours so that they can also raise their child. Perhaps they’ve already worked 40 hours at another job this week and now they are spending their weekend working this second job. You don’t know. And that means that you yelling at the “incompetent fast food worker” who is trying their best to take an order on the headset while setting up the debit machine so you can pay, and also bagging your food and handing you your drink, makes you look like an idiot. And explaining to the child in the back seat of your car that this “incompetent fast food worker” is the reason you “have to wait so long” for the food someone else is making for you, is not going to help that child, or the situation, at all.
- Don’t sexually harass the person serving your food. This seems like a logical thing just in life in general, however, apparently logic doesn’t always apply at a fast food restaurant. It is not appropriate to comment on how well the person serving your food fills out her shirt. Especially if she looks like a teenager and you are a 60 year old man.
- Be patient. There’s a very good chance that you haven’t been at work since 5:30am serving food to grumpy people (when people are hungry, they aren’t always the most pleasant to deal with). When it is your turn in line, keep in mind that this may be the case for the person taking your order, and he or she may have already dealt with people breaking all of the above ground rules within the last hour. Be patient, please.
By following these simple ground rules, I think it is safe to say that everyone will leave happy, feeling safe and not violated, and no fast food workers will end up in tears. These ground rules shouldn’t apply solely to fast food environments, either, but to the service industry as a whole, and just people in general.
Minimum wage is not enough for the harassment and verbal/emotional abuse that too many fast food workers deal with on a daily basis.”