A day in the life of a fast food worker

By Sean Bracken


If there is an industry America runs on, one could argue that fast food is that industry.New_McDonald's_restaurant_in_Mount_Pleasant,_Iowa

Fast food makes millions, if not billions of dollars, and is creating jobs at a faster pace than many of the other industries. It attracts millions of Americans a year to the taste of a cheeseburger, fries, a soft drink or whatever customers are in the mood for that day.

Not to mention, the industry also contains the main benefit that distinct itself from many other restaurants in food service: speed. Let’s face it. Americans are in a hurry, regardless if they need to hurry back to work, are traveling or just want their food instantaneously. Fast food is there to give those people that service.

Most people don’t realize how essential fast food is, however, and they also don’t realize how hard fast food workers work.

Several comments on social media state that fast food is all about “flipping burgers.” A lot of people, who I’m willing to bet never worked in fast food before, make it seem like working at McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Burger King is effortless and easy.

But take it from me: it’s not always effortless and easy. I will have worked two years in the industry coming up next month, and I have seen and done it all.

As a worker, I’ve had to work twice as hard on days my co-workers called off or just stopped showing altogether. I have seen many come and go, while others just can’t deal with the fast-paced multitasking environment the fast food industry requires.

In fast food, you are often on your feet for hours a day, have to move very fast to meet the store’s expectations and goals, and must show accuracy in ensuring customer satisfaction. Often times we are asked to do multiple things at once, which gets challenging when faced with a large rush.

Physically, the job is much more demanding than people realize because of how fast the industry moves. As I mentioned, we have to move really fast to meet the store’s needs. I’ve had to carry heavy objects around all day like boxes of French Fries, chicken nuggets and meat for the grill that weighed a lot.

Often times, I’m also around unsafe objects like the hot fryer oil, the surface of the grill, the oven for the store’s baked goods or at places like Arby’s, the slicer for your meats. Safety tools are provided, but I’d still often burn my arms, hands or fingers on the grill surface, and I have to be really delicate when trying to clean the oven.

Then there are the customers. We are trained to smile, be friendly, fast and accurate even if the customers aren’t friendly back.

Sometimes, they aren’t friendly. Some will be mean, while others will yell at you if you mess up an order. But we are told to remain friendly regardless of how much customers talk down to them.

Fast food also isn’t the cleanest atmosphere to work in either. Working in production for two years, I’ve often worked around the grease from the fryer, the nasty conditions of the grill and the sauces and condiments put on different sandwiches.

No matter what, all cleaning tasks must be kept up with so that you offer a clean store to your customers. Plus it makes it easier on us to clean often so it isn’t impossible to clean the store once the grease starts really collecting on the walls, grills, fryers, floors and just about everywhere.

However, cleaning often times got disgusting and nasty because of the grease that the store collects. Even if you clean the store every day, which sometimes didn’t get done, it still would be hard to maintain the store’s cleanliness.

I am in no way advocating one way or another to give fast food workers a raise or not. I am also not advocating policy on the minimum wage or allowing these workers to unionize. That’s a debate I’m going to leave to the fast food workplace and the politicians that pass the laws.

What I am advocating, however, is for more of you to understand and appreciate the daily tasks us fast food workers perform. It’s not just “flipping burgers,” but it is a lot more that need to be appreciated more in society.

Without us, there would be no fast food industry. Period. There will also always be a need for us regardless because of the high demand people have for the industry.

Therefore, the next time you stop into McDonald’s to order a cheeseburger, a McChicken sandwich or whatever the case may be, just take some time to remember what is done and how much we sweat to ensure your satisfaction.

Use manners, compliment them and thank them for their service.  Little things like that can go a long way for us in making our service to you better.