I feel that it’s important for everyone to work in the restaurant industry at least once in their lives. It truly gives people an appreciation of what those employees go through. In my younger years, I’ve worked various positions in restaurants, from server to host to bartender to assistant manager. During that time, I worked in different types of restaurants, but one area I’ve never done but wanted to do was fast food.
The fast food industry is a tough one due to the sheer amount of traffic some of the busy places get; oh and the turnover of employees. People harp on fast food restaurants for so many reasons, some of which are fair and others, I think, are unwarranted. So, I made various calls to see if a restaurant would let me come in and experience what one shift was like, and McDonald’s agreed to let me come in.
When it comes to fast food restaurants, there’s no bigger name than McDonald’s. So if I was going to experience working fast food, what better place to do it than the golden arches?
During a meeting with McDonald’s reps, they said that the morning shift was probably the busiest and that’s what I wanted to experience. I’d be working in various areas of the restaurant. They didn’t offer me a chance to dress up as Ronald McDonald, which I totally would have, but my inability to look tall most likely relegated me to the kitchen.
One morning, I arrived bright and early at 6 a.m. The location was the 21st and Maize store, who I know gets very busy at all hours of the day.
It was pretty quiet inside as the drive-thru was the only thing open. They were prepping the inside, though, for the soon to be flood of foot traffic.
To start my morning, I was at the cash register assisting with orders and delivering orders to tables. There were numerous people around the retirement age who came just for coffee and to hang out with other friends. I made a mental note to make sure to stop by in about 20–30 years as it was the happening place to be.
After about an hour, I moved over to the kitchen area, which was even more of a happening place to be. That’s where I spent the rest of my morning. There was so much going on back there. I was given a quick tour of each section, how it operated, the flow of the kitchen, and then some introductions to the employees.
Much of my time was spent working with three ladies who were all related; two were sisters and a third was their cousin. They were extremely nice; it was fun back there working and talking about family, our kids, background, and everything. Many of them have been there for over ten years and truly enjoyed their jobs. They said there was something about the morning shift, they really loved; plus it went by quick. And trust me, the hours went by fast.
The kitchen was like a big wheel and everyone was a cog who played an important role. One person handled cooking, another food prep, another person making the orders, and me trying to figure out what was going on. The charming part about working with the three ladies was how in sync they were. It was like they could read each other’s minds and work there with a blindfold on and not mess up. Another delightful part was the ice cream machine was working that day!
For the next few hours, I was amazed at how many items they were able to crank out over a 60-minute span of time. Truth be told, I’m uncertain if they had one mistake. I was keeping an eye on the front and didn’t see a single person complain about a wrong order. I’ve also never seen so many egg McMuffin’s ordered. That was easily the most popular item of the morning.
Throughout the morning, I saw the computer screen flash in orders and it never stopped. I was getting anxious just looking at the sheer number of orders, but the ladies didn’t miss a beat or drop a single bead of sweat. If they did, then their hairnets did a fantastic job of disguising it.
My biggest takeaway from working the morning shift was it’s no easy job. Could mistakes happen with the volume of orders coming in? 100%, after all, we are human. If a mistake came in, would the staff likely take care of it? Yes. So, I guess I don’t understand why people become so angry over human error, as if everybody is perfect at their job.
I had a great time working with the staff at the 21st and Maize McDonald’s. By all accounts, they were hard-working people who thoroughly enjoyed their jobs. Nearly everyone I spoke with was there for at least 5+ years, which says a lot in an industry with high turnover.
I also won’t take anything for granted anymore after experiencing a morning rush like that. My feet were sore, probably because I didn’t wear my Nike Monarchs.
My shift ended with a complimentary meal of two breakfast burritos, hash browns and an orange juice. That’s my go-to order for breakfast. I thanked the staff at McDonald’s for allowing me to join them and made it home to rest my feet.
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