I am probably fairly safe in assuming that the vast majority of people reading this will have purchased fast food at some point in their lives. It’s a simple expedition, one that we all do perhaps a little too often; when we’re out with friends in town, at the mall or just too lazy to make dinner – fast food is a convenient and tasty option. And you’ve got to love the excellent service you can always rely on when heading out to your favourite ‘restaurant’ right! Or not. Let’s face it; service at junk food outlets is usually pretty despondent and unenthusiastic. Surprise, surprise: it’s because these workers hate their jobs. And guess what? It’s because they have to deal with douchebag, arrogant customers who treat them like dumb, less-than-human beings not worthy of a simple ‘hello’, let alone a ‘thank you’. With just under a year’s experience of working at KFC, mainly taking orders from the afore-mentioned douchebags, I feel like I owe it to my fellow fast-food workers to shine some light on the shit we have to put up with. I hope that you will remember at least a point or two, and make an effort to be a bit nicer to your next grumpy looking server at McDonalds. Trust me, they will appreciate it.
Here are some particular low points that people put us fast food workers through on a regular basis:
Treating us like we’re stupid: This one is mostly aimed at the older demographic, but also some younger customers who speak v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y when they place their order. Come on. Even if I was a high school drop-out, I think my skills at punching a few buttons on a till would be quite efficient. We’ve had enough practice. That being said – be patient if they’re new, or unsure looking. When I first started, I was given barely any training before I was put on the till by myself. Being a shy perfectionist, I got extremely flustered by the rude people who were frustrated when I was trying my best, but was a bit slow!
You would probably be surprised at how many intelligent people are at my work; there’s University students working part-time as they work towards degrees in Law, Engineering and Business, for example. One girl who worked here for years now has a job as a vet, as she’s finished her study. Admittedly there are a few stereotypical high school dropouts who work full-time at KFC, but they do have plans to get better jobs or do courses sometime in the near future. Anyway, like I said – even the drop outs are really good at their jobs. Don’t be so patronizing as to think someone who takes orders all day can’t carry out their job as well as you could. Also, when you give us a long order, and we read it out to you, don’t make us feel like we’re dumb. We’re just trying to make sure you don’t yell at us later on!
Treating us like we’re not people: This one should really go without saying. And you’re basically a dick if you do this, but it does happen a fair bit. Whenever someone ignores my cheery ‘hello’ (maybe not so cheery by the end of my shift), and immediately places their order without even a smile, my heart always drops a little. Just some acknowledgement that I’m a human being – like you, would be nice. If you are guilty of this one, shame on you. Not cool. Please, even if you’re having a bad day, remember that the person serving you at most fast food outlets if probably having a fairly crappy time, too. We all go home afterwards, all have friends and hobbies. We’re not just mindless machines who take your order; we do appreciate a genuine ‘thank you’ or ‘hi how are you?’, even if you are in a rush.
General weirdness/creepiness: When I hand out a drink, give change or pass out the eftpos machine, please make an effort not to creepily brush or hold my hand! I purposefully always give people a lot of room to take whatever I’m handing them, yet somehow they manage to make contact. I’m not being a germaphobe, or anything; I can understand a small brush. But when someone’s entire hand goes over mine, it’s gross. I don’t know you, or where your hands have been and I would rather not touch them.
Stupid people: I guess there’s not much you can do about this one if you’re stuck with an unintelligent mind, but it’s still annoying. Sometimes funny, yes, but usually it just drives me crazy. Example; when you order an Ultimate Burger Meal, upsized to large, don’t bother changing your drink to Pepsi Max. It’s completely pointless. It is doing nothing to aid your weight loss efforts whilst you are dining at KFC. My opinion is – if you’re going to eat KFC – do it right. Unless you’re diabetic, please keep in mind that any diet drink at fast food places is just to make you feel better when you’re consuming your daily calorie allowance in one sitting. Ok that was a bit harsh, but also, on the note of stupid people; please don’t change your order when you’ve already paid! It is one of the most annoying things too deal with; surely you can say ‘hold up a second,’ if you’re not sure exactly what it is you want, rather than waiting until we’ve processed your payment. We have to get the manager to give you a refund, and it’s just frustrating for everyone, especially if it’s busy. As another thought for the less intellectually gifted among us; if you have an abnormally loud vehicle, how about switching off the engine? Turning down the blaring rap music and getting off your cell phone might help us understand each other a bit better, too.
Complaining about things we can’t control: For example – slow service when we’re busy. We can’t magically predict when a whole heap of people will decide to come and buy KFC! You decided to walk/drive in when you saw that there was a long line, so no snarky remarks about how you ‘thought this was fast food,’ please. Also, if we’re out of something, don’t bother getting mad at the person who took your order and haughtily declare you’ll ‘go somewhere else.’ This is KFC – do you think anyone cares if you go somewhere else? This goes for running out of things too, or machines being out of order. The world is an imperfect place and KFC is not exempt from that.
Rant over. To summarise all this – be nice to fast food workers. We have to put up with a lot of unpleasantries. So next time you buy a burger or some other deep fried concoction, spare a thought for your server. If you want to go the extra mile and make their night – start a conversation, or give them a compliment! Even a simple, ‘busy tonight?’ is appreciated. If someone says ‘you’re doing a good job,’ it makes my night so much more enjoyable, and I’ll probably be way happier for the rest of my shift, not to mention nicer to customers. While your order is going through on the Eftpos machine, why not? Don’t be creepy about it, or make them uncomfortable with personal questions, but be personable!
I now have a new job at a cafe, and am astounded at how much more customers respect you when you’re in a slightly more upmarket place. So no, I wasn’t imagining the poor treatment, or exaggerating – people are downright rude and disrespectful to fast food workers. I miss my co-workers, but I cannot say I miss the job at all. I will never forget my KFC days, and when on the rare occasion I do get fast food, I will be nice to the person who takes my order, even if that just means giving them a friendly smile, or assuring them ‘that’s completely fine’ if they muck up slightly, because I know how much it means.