Real Luck

Saturday, July 23, 2005
It's just about 9pm here, and I didn't get a call from my ex-employer. I had left him a message as we had agreed, but he didn't return it, so I'm not working there tonight. That means I won't be working there for quite a while. He said that we would either do it today or tomorrow, but I'm working tomorrow! Ha!

I'm just afraid that I'm here rejoicing while something bad has happened to him. He lives on the phone. For him not to return a call means something is up. Hopefully, it's nothing.

I've been thinking back to how I was feeling earlier today. Things aren't so bad. It helps a whole lot that I don't have to take this job seriously. If there were people depending on me (or me depending on it) it would be a lot worse. As it stands, I should be able to step back and laugh at how bad it can get. Although, I do admit that it's tough to laugh at the burns while they still hurt. I've grown to accept that the burn I posted here is going to stick with me forever.

1700 - 2200

I decided to drive out to the Franchise today to look at my schedule, since they don't let you know in advance. What luck! I'm going in tomorrow at 5pm until 10pm. That will be my longest shift yet.

I've realized that getting material to write about isn't as important as my hatred of going there.

Tonight, I have to go de-weed a jungle for my ex-employer who thinks he's still my current employer. It's 79 degrees out, and he said I'll need to wear pants and a long sleeve shirt... and gloves.

His backyard is normal, until it drops off in a small cliff-like forest. That's where I've got to de-weed. I've put off doing this for weeks now, but there's no turning back at this point.

Okay, so let me go back to the fast food. That's why you're all here, anyway. So, I walk in there today without my uniform, because I was just stopping by. Some old guy in a tan shirt (the shirt colors somehow designate rank, but I'm not sure how; I could probably make some joke about brown shirts, but I feel too defeated to do so.) turned around when I walked past him.

"Hey buddy,"
"Hi,"
"What's up? How are you doing?"
"Not much, I mean fine, good, thanks."

Just great. I think I'm going to cry.

I walked into the back closet office. Some lady was working away at the computer. I felt bad excusing myself to get a look at the schedule right next to her, until I saw she was working hard away at solitaire.

sun -- 1700 - 2200

Damnit! If they expect me to work on Sunday, what's stopping them from wanting me there on Saturday? I frantically looked at the board to see where Saturday was listed. It wasn't on there.

Suddenly, my panic faded and I realized that if they wanted me in today, they should have told me. I don't care. It's their stupid system and they'll have to deal with the consequences. If they don't have enough employees tonight, maybe they should get a better scheduling system.

Glasses

Friday, July 22, 2005

I know I've posted a lot over the past two days, but I figure that now is a crucial time to get an audience. If people return here without there being any new posts, they'll likely give up on it. I might run out of material for the weekend, but I'll try to keep posting. If I do run out of material and I'm just stalling, I'll be sure to admit it.


Mowing lawns with a mower that spit up 50% of the grass into my face made me realize how lucky I was to wear glasses. I am again presented with this feeling as I have to deal with grease, water, and acid spitting up at me from the grill.

Yes, I said acid. We use acid packets to clean the grill. No, there's no real cleaning after the acid use (except for some water spritzing), so you're eating acidic burgers.

Reason #2, #3 for not eating at the Franchise?

When I said spitting at me from the grill, I forgot to mention that that is only one of the places it can come from. There is a liposuction vacuum thing that sucks out the grease from the grease troughs. A co-worker told me that, one time, because he didn't turn the machine on before plugging in the hose, it exploded in his face. You can bet I'm looking forward to that one.

Since the Dawn of Time

Blogger has archived my ancient posts... from yesterday, so I thought that posting a little table of contents was in order for setting everyone straight. I've only worked at the Franchise for three days, so it's really easy to catch up.

My First Day

My Second Day

My Third Day

Feel free to post comments on any of them, as I'll still try to check if there are any new ones. I'm not sure about how well-written the third and end of the second day are, as I was slightly indisposed at the time of writing.

Other Crappy Jobs

I found someone who used to work at a fast food place and is now writing about their work in a call center. Stop by it here.

If you have a blog about your work, I'll be happy to post it.

In that same breath, have any of the 5 or so return readers I have (and of course all of the Blog Explosion hoppers) ever worked at a fast food place? Comment about it.

Anonymity

The biggest issue with working at a fast food restaurant is reputation. I'm fresh out of high school, so this is still important to me. I honestly can't see how it would get better over time, as people have even higher appearances to keep up.

Anyway, I haven't told too many people that I'm working at a fast food restaurant. My mother has not followed suit.

The place I work is about 15 minutes from where I live, but not many people from my "old money" neighborhood (as I like to call it) stop by. I'm usually too busy to look out at the counter to see who is ordering what, but they can see me.

I figure, I'm not going to have to see any of those people ever again, so it doesn't matter.

Still, the idea that working at a place like this is so undesirable creates a void between the type of people who work there. There are the young people whose reputations are not as important, and the older and much poorer people.

One of these older people once pulled me close and said, "When you don't have anything to do, pick up a broom and start sweeping. The bosses will like you better, and come raise time, you'll get twenty cents instead of a nickel."

I think I heard somewhere that they evaluate you for a raise every six months or so, so that's not going to be an issue for me. I'm out of this place in four weeks.

MCDEES

For my two returning visitors and the hundreds of others who pop by and get turned off by the shear amount of stuff to read to catch up on, I decided to keep posting during my off time, so people will keep showing up. I'm guessing people like these short, pointless posts instead of the long ones detailing my work (even though I hear they're very interesting), so I'll try to post more random information in between the work-related narration. Anyway, I needed to get this out of the way:

Some of you might be wondering what the acronym MCDEES (from the URL) stands for.

My
Career
Doing
Endless
Ego
Sacrificing

...in case anyone was confused...

(Yes, I didn't put too much thought into that.)

I Completely Forgot

Thursday, July 21, 2005
If any of you have any questions or curiosities about anything at my place of work, please feel free to post a comment or send me an e-mail.

COWARDLY@GMAIL.COM

I'll either just reply back with an answer or, if you say it's all right, I'll post the question and answer here.

Burnt

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but working on the grill gets you a myriad of minor and severe burns. Every time you put your hand in to get the burgers, you feel your arm hair and skin being singed. You've got to be on your guard from grease popping up. If you touch the grill for more than a millisecond, you're burnt with 450 degrees of pain.

Some other things hurt, too. I found this out when innocently opening the frying cage of some fish filets.

Here's a picture of my fingers, two days after it occurred:

It's nothing serious, and you might not think you're looking at it, but that diagonal line across those two fingers hurt for quite a while.

Thursday Lull

I'm not working again for at least 3 more days. In that time, I would recommend that you read about my first day at the Franchise, and then read on from there.

My Third Day

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I really wasn't looking forward to working, today. It was actually yesterday, but who cares?

Anyway, I got there and met Shaneequa. I'm still not sure what her real name is. She asked me when I started. I said 5.

"You're early. Go wait until it's 5."
I looked at my watch. 4:57
"Where should I wait?"
"The crew room."

It was just by happenstance that I had heard someone call the closet I had gone into to go through the "e-learning" training program the crew room.

I walked in there and stood. I heard Shaneequa from the other room tell someone else to wait until it was 5. A guy about my age comes in. I decide to be friendly.

"Are you new here?"
"Sorta, I've been here like three days before."
"Oh, this is my third day."
"Where are you working?"
"The grill."

He just looked at the schedule and sat down. I just stood there, feeling awkward.

At 4:59, he got up and walked to the other closet office. I went with him. We stood waiting for the supervisors to look at us for a bit, but then he decided to go back to Shaneequa. She clocked us in and mumbled something to me about burgers and helping someone I didn't know.

I just went back to the grill.

There are a lot of times when you have nothing to do. At times like these, I like to get a rag out of the "clean towel bucket," and wipe down my area. Today, though, there was no such bucket. How fantastic.

At one point, I got some really disgusting grease on my hand. I went to the sink to wash my hands. I'm probably the only person in there who goes near the sink. I know I mentioned that we're supposed to wear gloves, and wash our hands, but now I see they don't expect us to do either. The soap dispenser has been broken since I started, and just thinking about it is making me ill.

Eventually, things picked up. I had to race between the fryer and the grills. I was getting people asking for stuff all the time. After I had taken care of most of it, that kid who introduced himself on my first day came in and asked me if I was running the grill by myself. He offered to help me out.

After things calmed down, he showed me how to close the grill, even though someone had showed me yesterday. It was either that, or do it myself. It's really not something I'm looking forward to doing on my own.

He asked me how old I was. I told him I was 18.

"Good, because I'm actually too young to be allowed to close the grill. I'm only 17."

At times like this, I wonder whether it's just this franchise that is too cool for the rules, or all Franchise restaurants have abandoned the proper procedures.

I asked him how I would figure out my schedule for the rest of the week and the next. He told me to ask a manager at the end of my shift.

At about 7:30, things get rather quiet. I asked the Russianish woman how they assembled the burgers. She showed me for a while. Her accent sounds almost Italian, but I'm so sure she's from around Russia.

I didn't work past my shift, this time. I was anxiously waiting for it to end. At 8, I went to a manager (not Shaneequa) and she told me she didn't need me for the rest of the week and that I should come in on Saturday or Sunday to see what my schedule is.

I rushed out of there.

Later that day, when I was in a Chinese restaurant eating sushi (only in America), I remembered that I hadn't clocked out. I don't really care, though. What are they going to do?

My Second Day

I'm a day behind on everything, but I have had some other stuff to deal with. I took a sleeping pill tonight, so I might not be very coherent by the end of this.

My second day started slightly better. I got there on time with my uniform on. I walked past the counter to the closet-office, again. I was just lucky enough to catch the uniform supervisor guy. He stared blankly at me, but I was getting used to it here.

"I just started yesterday."
"Oh, right. Now you look like you're ready to work."
"Yeah, sorry about yesterday. It's no excuse that I didn't have the uniform and you had told me to come in to get it, you dickhead."

I didn't say that. I just smiled and tried to cough out a little chuckle.

"Man, you need to get a tan! You're as white as a [something that's generally white but I forgot what he said]."
"Yeah, that's because I spent an hour scrubbing my hands and arms yesterday after being infected with this vile place. My upper dermal layer is far gone with all the crap I look forward to renewing today."

I didn't say that bit either. I actually did say "Thanks," though. It was an accident, but it was fitting.

"So where should I go?"
"Go see Shaneequa."

I don't remember exactly what her name was, but it was something of the sort.

"Who is that?"
"Shaneequa."
"Err, I don't know anybody's name."

The woman supervisor came up.

"She's the one in the pink, maybe you could call it peach shirt."
"Thanks."

I spotted her down at the second drive-through window. She looked busy.

"Hi, I just started. I was told to come down here to know where to start."
"Told by who?"

Panic time. There was no time to tell her she should have used "whom." I tried to think of some way to describe the supervisors.

"The people in the office."
--blank stare--
"Over there."
"Are you working at the grill?"
"I don't know, that's why I came over here."
"Did you work at the grill yesterday?"
"Yes."
"Then you're working there today."
"Okay, thank you."

Remind me not to run into her, again.

This time there was nobody at the grill. I went to the back room to get an apron. There was a 20ish year old guy with a large gap between his two front teeth.

"Hi," I said, "Where are the aprons?"
"Well, they should be on that hook there."
"Is there any other place they could be?"
"I don't know."
"Oh wait, here's one up here."

He helped me out for a bit. At one point he asked to see my braces. It seemed even stranger to me when he asked which college I was going to. I told him.

"Is that around here?"
"No, it's in..."

Most people get amazed when they find out where I'm going, but it honestly isn't such a big deal. This guy didn't think so, either, and I liked him all the better for it.

"That's really out of state!"

A while later, a friendly middle-aged man came by to show me how to close the grill. I learned something new. Closing a grill is what they call cleaning the grill. They never actually close the grill in the sense I was familiar with.

The people who come in after 7 are always the nicest. There's the Russianish woman who tought me how to assemble the burgers, the normal-voiced woman who tells me what to make before it runs out, and that awful Shaneequa girl leaves.

So while I was toiling away, I hear the women across the assembly divider discussing which soup kitchens are the best. It turns out that Fridays are at the Salvation Army, Wednesdays once a month are for some Church, and the rest I didn't catch. I'm rather surprised that the employees have to resort to this.

Overall, it was not a busy day, but I accidentally worked 10 minutes too long. I decided to order a #1 from them. Now, I always have a problem when I order the #1s, because I order them without cheese. They always screw it up. One time, I got it with cheese, took it back, got another one, and it had cheese on it, too. Well, now that I work there, they aren't going to screw up my order, right? Wrong, but now, I can't go up to them and say, "What the hell is wrong with you? You have a damn button for no cheese, yet you always give it to me with cheese. I'm never coming here again!" I ended up just scraping it off with some napkins when I got home. I also vowed never to eat there again.

Interlude Number Two

Before I go on to explain how my second day went, I'd like to fill everyone in on why, exactly, I am working at the Franchise. Do I need the money?

No. I'm working there because I was forced to. I applied to several places. I interviewed with some firm in the city. It didn't work out. I interviewed with Starbucks. They weren't looking for seasonal work. I interviewed with the Franchise.

It was a joke. I sat down with the interviewer.

"This isn't a difficult job. It takes some common sense. A lot of people don't have that, though."
"Okay..."
"What would you do if you saw someone doing something they shouldn't be doing?"
"Tell a manager?"
"What size pants do you wear?"
"What?"
"For the uniform."

That was it. I got the job right about there.

"So are you going to school after the summer?"
"Yes. I'll be here until mid-September."

Maybe this is where they say, oh we weren't looking for someone to work here for two months.

"That's great. A lot of people go to school and come back for the holidays. Just give us a call when you're around. Are you going to school nearby?"
"No... It's pretty far away."

What they didn't, and still don't know is that I'm off to Peru a month before I go to school. That's the thing that's keeping me going. I was up at 2:45 this morning tossing around because my legs hurt so much from standing for so long in dress shoes, but that thought eventually let me fall asleep.

Why was I wearing my dress shoes to the Franchise? They said I needed black shoes. I could order them from their catalogue or get my own. I hate buying shoes. I figured, I have some black shoes that fit me. What could possibly go wrong?

First, the floors at this place are like a lake... that's frozen over with a couple wet spots, here and there. I have pretty good balance, so I've adapted to skating from place to place on the inch-high layer of grease and foulness between me and the real floor.

Slogans

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
I was just reminded of Franchise slogan. You probably already know it. "I'm ....n' it." Who okayed this? Did the Franchise hire my high school logbook staff for their marketing team? It's like a timewarp to the mid-90s. No, that wouldn't be respectable in any time period.


But that's just the start! They go on to say "...what I eat and what I do." It's trademarked, so hopefully removing the first word (or conjunction) will do the trick. So who came up with this one? Even the logbook staff would draw the line before this one even came onto the table. Let's go through it, bit by bit:

"...what I eat"

Sure, okay, that makes sense. You do eat here. There are two problems, though. Who is the "I"? Are they to assume we'd like to follow suit with the voice-over on their commercial? The second issue is the redundancy of the statement. I would have thought that it was rather obvious with what you're supposed to do when confronted with food, but then again, they went on to say:

"and what I do."

Wha? Wait, wha? No. There is nothing okay about this.

They're not getting any love from me.

Doing heavy research for this post, I stumbled upon a very helpful Wikipedia article on the subject.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franchise_TV_campaigns_and_slogans
You know what to change to make that link work ^

You'll probably be interested in Backstreet Boys connection. I know I am.

My First Day

I started working at a fast food restaurant yesterday. I’ll refer to it as the Franchise. After my second day there, today, I decided that people might be interested in a different perspective on what it is like working at a well-known fast food restaurant.

A Bit About Myself:
I'm probably not the average Franchise employee. I am an 18 year old male, I'm going to be attending one of the world's top 100ish universities in September, I got above a 1300 on my SATs (out of 1600, not the new ones), I listen to Rachmaninov and Supertramp, and I like the Marx Brothers but detest the Three Stooges. This is my first official job that I've ever had.

That was just to put everything into perspective.

My first day began with me remembering that I still didn't have my uniform. I phoned them up, and a man told me to come in 15 minutes early to get one. At 4:48 (my first shift was 5 to 8), my ride came and drove the 10 minutes to the Franchise. It was about 3 minutes until I started, so I sheepishly walked past the counter and to the back where a tiny little closet-office was. There was a big man with a shaved head in there. He just stared at me.

"I'm starting here today..."
"You don't look like you are."
"Well, I need to get my uniform. I was told to get it today."
"Oh, I talked to you on the phone."
I thought of putting out my hand, but he didn't seem inclined to be too friendly, so I smiled and agreed. He led me to another closet (which was actually used as a closet) and asked me my sizes. This was the third person I had told my sizes to since I applied, and it didn't get more entertaining as it repeated.

He said the shirts and pants ran low, so he gave me them both in sizes too big for me.

"Is there some specific place I should change into these?"
"Just the bathroom. I'm sorry we don't have fitting rooms for you."

I wasn't too upset about his opposition, but then I saw the bathroom. First, it had just been mopped, so I slipped as I walked past the woman who had just mopped it. I got into disabled stall and tried to set my stuff down on the top edge of the baby changing station.

To make a 10 minute story short, the shirt was all right, but the pants were about 2 feet too long. I put my shorts back on, and walked out of the bathroom with the big shirt on over my shorts. The mop woman was waiting right outside the bathroom door.

"Are you new here?"
"Yeah... It's nice to meet you."
--blank stare--
I walked back to the closet-office.

"The pants were too big."
"In what way?"
"They were too long."
"Oh, well, I don't think any sizes are different lengths. I could get you a women's pair."
"I'll take my chances with the next lower men's size."

He rummaged around for a bit, and it was looking worse for my situation, but then, out of the back corner of the closet, he produced my size. I went back to the disabled stall and put them on. He was right, they were still pretty long, but I could cuff them.

This time when I went to the closet office, I met the woman who had walked me through the registration process a few days earlier. She brought me to another closet-office.

"Okay, we have this thing called 'e-learning' that will teach you the basic stuff for working here. I've just got to find it. I had it up a minute ago."

She started going through all the files on the computer.

"Is it the one right there that says 'Franchise'?"

"Yeah that's it. It's somewhere in here."

"Is it the one that says 'launch'?"

"Yeah, okay, I'll start you off on this one. Just tell me when you're done."

You expect something pretty bad, but then it starts, and you're left with a new appreciation for exactly how bad it can be. To appeal to the average employee, you're represented by the cartoon, Javier, the quick-thinking new guy, and you're taught by the lightly African American instructor.

After about 10 minutes of her telling me exactly how to put gloves on, I finished the section and went out to find the woman, again. She started me up on the next section. The characters began talking, and the supervisor woman laughed.

"This is so gay!"
"Yeah."
That is coming from the person who has made it to the top of the ladder. I'm not one to judge; at least she's better than the uniform supervisor guy.

After about an hour of watching the cartoons telling me about platens and 10 to 1 burgers, I was utterly happy I was pretending to make the burgers instead of actually doing it.

Eventually, it ended, and I was sent to the kitchen. There was a girl who wasn't much older than me told to introduce me to the grills.

"I really hate teaching new people. I don't know why they have me do it. I'm no good at it."
"Okay..."

I watched her do the stuff for 10 minutes, and then she was finished and began to wipe down the machines with a cloth. I stood there for a second.

"Is there anything I can help with?"
"Yeah, just get a rag and clean down everything I sprayed."

I would wipe down a surface, and she would go do it as if I did it so poorly that it needed to be completely redone. It's still not so bad.

This one guy about my age came up to me and introduced himself. He was the first person to shake my hand. I don't remember his name, though.

"I'm going to teach you how to turn off the grills tonight. When does your shift end?"
"Eight."
"Oh, then maybe I'll show you tomorrow."

The hapless grill teacher came back and had me grill some burgers on my own. I asked her how I knew when to make more.

"You can ask your manager, but I like to have three trays of 10 to 1...mumble mumble mumble..."
"Okay, thanks."
Who the hell is my manager?

Anyway, my shift ended, and I was picked up by my dad in his BMW. I hoped nobody saw.

When I got home, I washed my hands 14 times. In the Franchise, you're not expected to wash your hands. Protocol is that you wash your hands after every time you make anything, and then put on new gloves. Nobody wears gloves, and even fewer wash their hands. That's today's reason for you never to eat at Franchise.