Friday, April 16, 2010

#160: Hungry Like The Wolf

I did chuckle when I saw and heard this one. Go and have a quick peek and then pop back here for the reasons why.

Back? Good.

When I lived in Melbourne I had a day job, more of a cover for other activities really, and that day job was working at McDonalds. I won’t reveal the store location, for reasons that will become obvious as you read further. I worked there five days a week and did the day shift, which was a difficult shift for the company to fill. The money was pittance, but that wasn’t an issue as I was making more in an evening than I’d make working for The Clown in a week, and the only real advantage was the (supposedly) free food. The free food wasn’t that free as the costs of a prescribed meal break came out of the wages, but if you were halfway clever, and I was, then there were ways to eat like a king, albeit shit food, and save money by not having to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you could over the fact that the ‘fresh’ salads were processed and pre-packaged and bought in bulk, you could make yourself a halfway healthy salad roll, not that The Clown was that interested in healthy food back in those days. Profits were the name of the game and if that meant resorting to, well, dubious practices, then so be it. And with those practices came situations, and employees, that make a bit of spit on a processed beef patty look tame.

I gave up on the pickles early in the piece when I came in early to find one co-worker soaking his feet in the gigantic pickle buckets. “It helps my toe-jam,” he said by way of explanation, “the acids in the juices really strip the fungus away.” Good for him, I thought, but each and every time I walk into one of these places the first thing I ask for is for the order to be completed sans pickles. I’m sure it doesn’t happen anymore, but you never know.

Cheese? Forget it. We had an employee who was so angry at the store and the destruction of rainforests that he used to regularly masturbate into the cheese containers. If I wanted cheese on anything I opened a new package and grabbed the slices before they went into the containers. “They’re all fucking wankers anyway,” he used to tell me, “so they can have some extra special sauce.” And special the sauce was. We ran out of the so called special sauce once and substituted a combination of Thousand Island dressing, mayonnaise and some balsamic vinegar and nobody noticed. That was a tad odd. We’d overload the chicken nuggets to the point of explosion, mind you if you ever broke a nugget open and looked inside you’d never eat another. Borderline Popplers, that’s all I’ll say.

Angry customers, more than a few. Sarcastic customers, quite a lot. Here’s a hint, all you people who think it’s fun to wander into a fast food joint and abuse people while you’re ordering – don’t. You see, until you get the food the people in the kitchen preparing it have total control, and generally you can’t see everything they do. Get the burger and fries and then abuse the shit out of anyone in sight. Up to that point just be polite and odds are good that no-one will spit on your order. Always order something without an ingredient because it means that it actually has to be cooked fresh. Anything other than that, well, you’re taking your own life in your hands. We once allowed a cheese burger to sit and ferment for a good five hours before someone picked it up, bashed it into a bag and sent it on its way. Mind you with the amount of chemicals in the food, at that point, it probably would have tasted the same five days later.

I also had some interesting co-workers. There was one young lass who thought nothing of ‘entertaining’ any male co-worker, and a few females ones as well, in the crew room during late night shifts. That was always an interesting way to pass the time. I knew of at least four drug dealers who’d obtain jobs at the store with the sole focus of increasing their distribution networks – after all what better place to peddle some Class A than a hive of young people with disposable incomes and not much in the way of brains? Brilliant! There were a few spouse abusers and the usual assortment of riff and also raff, who’d turn up when they felt like it, do the job asked of them and scream if the money wasn’t in the bank account at the end of the fortnight. These places seemed to attract more than their fair share of socially inept and utterly dysfunctional people, mainly due to the policy of hiring anyone who could sign their name and read. And if they couldn’t read, well, there were always floors to sweep. Because I was big and nasty I’d get roped into being the ‘escort’ for the bank drop each well, well, at least initially. That stopped when I revealed that if anyone was aiming to mug me then I’d merely hand over the bag and offer to split the proceeds. “Sorry,” I said at the time, “I’m not risking death for The Clown. He doesn’t pay me enough.” That didn’t go down to well, but, in a drunken/drugged evening, one of the senior management types informed me that he’d often thought about knocking the bank drop off in transit (this was in the mid 1980s and we’re talking, on average, anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 a pop) and began to sound me out. I demurred. The Clown isn’t worth going to jail over.

We had visits. Every so often we had the activity days where some idiot came along dressed as Ronald McDonald and brought with him an assortment of fools dressed as various characters. The kids loved it and generally ate the place out of food, which was the entire idea. The company would spend about a thousand dollars in preparation and advertising; we’d recoup that in under thirty minutes. The total cost of the day would be gained in under 90 minutes and the rest would be gravy. I won’t say everything that went on behind the scenes, but I can remember thinking how surreal it was getting a blowjob from a female who was dressed as Hamburgler, and who then placed an oversized head on and ran outside to entertain kids. Not to mention the delightful sight of hearing The Clown himself say, “I ain’t eating that shit,” when faced with the sight of a Quarter Pounder. I hope his tastes have changed. We had to go across the road and get him some home made apple crumble, albeit the loveliest such crumble I’ve ever had, either before or since. And, remember, sometimes the mothers back then were just a little too bored at such functions or birthday parties. Boredom can be when the fun kicks in.

So why was the burger spat in? I can’t speak for whoever did it, but we had a policy of giving the cops everything for half price. Most of the cops were chummy enough, but some would take advantage or display amazing levels of attitude, with the end result being some form of food tampering. Perhaps the cop was a bit mouthy, or, more likely, the person serving was either having a bad day or just hates authority. Either way if you’re going to spit into a burger, it pays to be a bit more discreet and subtle.

So, what lessons can you obtain out of this?  Make your own mind up, but don't assume that everyone is evil, or good, when you walk into a fast food joint.
I don’t miss working at McDonalds, not by a long stretch, and I doubt I’d ever go back, although, at times, the thought of just being a mindless drone in a Kwikimart or a Hungry Jacks is appealing beyond words. The experience is great, but some of the people you meet leave a lot to be desired, for that alone, I can live without it.


Anonymous said...

I have often wondered about the addictive qualities of Macca's. Be it the special sauce or the voluminous amount of fat that makes people crave it. Why else would you produce salads with dressing that contained 35% sat fat?

Anyhooo......I wonder if people are shitty with the staff because they are hanging out for their know, like real addicts. Esp. when there is some punk arsed kid dragging his heals to make a burger that you need like a hit with an ounce of smack and a needle. Just a thought.

Note: I have been Macca's free for over a year now. KFC free, for 6 months.

Your Own Personal Jesus said...

Addictive? Absolutely!

When I worked there the (unofficial but accepted and promoted) order was to oversalt the fries so that people would buy more drinks. And I'm sure the chemical additivies in the food contained material that was highly addictive, otherwise how does anyone explain why people keep coming back? For the taste? Please!

I love the ads that proclaim Maccas as being 'healthy' now. Thanks for telling the world that, for decades previously, the food was about as healthy and good for you as eating week old roadkill.