McDonhell's - McFreak Get's A McJob.
Written: Oct 7, 2001 (Updated Oct 8, 2001)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Cheap food, cheap prices, cheap food, fresh ice tea.
Cons:Cheap food, poor training for employees, cheap food.
The Bottom Line: I'll still go for the Kids Meal toys and cheap burgers - then again I do have a death wish.
From the demented mind that brought you the “One Person Write-Off” and “The Pauly Shore Tribute Week”, Freak369 proudly presents The 31 Flavors of Horror.
Striving to provide you, the Epinions Community, with a well rounded, informative and fact based review I have taken the ultimate step. About a month ago and a half ago I took the first steps in what some may call undercover reporting. This wasn’t something that I took lightly; it involved a few weeks of planning as well as almost completely filling a notebook with details. So how did I do this? I donned some ‘street clothes’, drove to Mc Donald’s, asked for an employment application and downplayed my previous jobs in order to get a part time position. Yes, you read it correctly; I took at job at Mc Donald’s to bring you a behind the scenes review of what really happens behind the counter. Warning; You may never want to visit a Mc Donald’s again after reading this review.
Before I delve into the meat of the review [pardon the pun] I need to set the stage with a little breakdown of the people who trained me, worked beside me and eased my transition from Lego Mom to Burger Mom. All names have been changed and no matter how much you bug me, I will not reveal the exact location but it is in a San Diego suburb.
Bob He is the manager, the overseer of the whole shebang. He’s middle aged, stressed out and has a ‘comb over’ hair piece that often slides from side to side making it hard to have an eye-to-eye conversation with him. He’s a nice guy until something goes wrong, that’s when he snaps at people, throws around the bags of frozen french fires and squeezes the cooked apple pies.
Marcy Assistant Manager. She was the person that hired me but only after I made some personal changes – tie back my hair, limit the jewelry and get rid of the bubble gum. It seemed fair enough – and after all it was only a few days [so I thought]. She may look innocent with her uniform, corporate issued nametag and ring of keys – but make no mistake, she is a pit bull. Let’s just put it this way – don’t add extra pickles even if requested – ever! Also known as She Beast
Luis One of the few employees that took pride in his job and greeted people with a smile no matter what. Maybe that’s a reason he’s a Shift Manager. I asked several times about the duties of a “Shift Manager” but was continually met with resistance and an almost creepy blank daze. Luis was a rebel – giving out the sacred Mc Donald’s cookies and plastic hand puppets to every kid that walked in the door.
Cookie One of the funniest employees. She is from Brooklyn, New York and offered a refreshing spin on how fast food should be served – that is when she felt ready to take your order. She didn’t really care for or about her job therefore didn’t take it too seriously when the managers or shift managers would threaten to ‘write her up’. She laughed at them, picked up her nail file and continued her assault on her grape bubble gum.
Myra Imagine a cheerleader on massive amounts of cocaine. She was perky but annoying, she was a part timer who was more concerned with her pager and cellular phone than cleaning the tables. When she was reprimanded she’d burst into tears and make a beeline for the bathroom. Total drama queen.
Jason, Mark, Paul, Colette, Eric, Jason 2 All my co-workers, all teenagers or college freshman and all determined not to have Mc Donald’s on their resume after they graduate from their respective places of education. Each of them did their job with efficiency, speed and deserved to be treated much better than they were.
While I said earlier that I would not divulge the exact location of this Mc Donald’s I will go so far as to give some detail. It is located in a suburb of San Diego, has a large parking lot that is usually littered with Big Mac boxes, Super Size soda cups and usually plays host to the local skate rats [regardless as to what the posted signs about skateboarding say]. It is on the outside portion of a small shopping mall and has a tremendous amount of traffic for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as an almost non-stop drive thru.
I am not sure who pis-sed in Marcy’s cereal but she was extremely rude to me when I arrived, ten minutes early for my interview. She was complaining about the straws not being ordered, the counters being sticky and bellowing out all her little mind trip orders.
When she finally got around to seeing me it was five minutes of her looking over the application, then at me, then back at the application. She never bothered to ask me if I had previous fast food experience, what shifts I was interested in, if weekends would be a problem or if I was an escaped prisoner. She was more concerned with my height, reason for wanting to work at Mc Donald’s and if I got sick a lot. Sure, they were strange questions but I assumed she knew what she was doing since she was “management”.
I was told that I needed to come in for training, make arrangements for my uniforms and fill out the necessary paperwork. Now, I assumed … physical, drivers license, social security number .. the usual. What I was given was a mountain of paper [mostly useless] about the Mc Donald’s protocol. I looked at the stack and tried to imagine what poor tree was killed to create this paper trail.
With my schedule set, my uniform [t-shirt] in hand and my freshly created name tag with the bold words “TRAINEE” in neon green – I was ready to join the world of fast food. Now, I know what you are thinking - Freak, how can I get a cool job like that?. Ask and ye shall receive. Most places take applications all the time since the turn-over is incredible [something I now understand after having orders literally barked at me in front of customers].
I knew the ultra cool position of “drive thru goddess” would take a while for me to achieve, but I never expected training to be this boring, mundane and utterly moronic. I had heard that there were video tapes you would watch – never saw them – and I was looking forward to seeing the history of the company and a walk through time via the various uniforms, hats and name tags. No such luck. I was given a tour – called “the backstage area” by Marcy – of the cooking area, managers area, “break room” [it was a closet – I sh.it you not], time clock and how to swipe in and out. No mention of the fire escapes, where the trash gets dumped, which freezers were which etc. She had her trusty notebook with her and reminded me of Steve from Blues Clues since it never left her side. She checked off about 50 boxes stating that “things” were explained to me and told me to sign the bottom. I refused since half of the stuff was never discusses and it was at that time that I saw the embodiment of evil [aside from my ex-husband]. Marcy slowly turned her head towards me and gave me “that” look and asked me, “Are you going to be the person that rocks the boat or the person that helps steer it?” Oh, this was going to be hell on earth. She had a million of those little one liners that she slung around like hash at a homeless shelter.
Day One continued with learning the ins and outs of the kitchen area. I was told to stand back and watch “things” happen. I was expecting magic, the smell of freshly grilled burgers, the snap of crisp lettuce and the chef like wizardry of the man with the funny hat. Instead I was pushed, bumped and told to “get the hell out of the way” and no matter where I stood, it was obviously an infringement into someone’s personal workspace.
When it came time for my ‘break’ I ran outside and called home to see how my boys were. The only request was that I bring home some Happy Meals and shakes. Somehow I expected them to ask, “How is work mummy” … then again my brother Angus was babysitting so who really knows what was going on there. 15 minutes flew by – and all too soon I was face to face with Marcy, who will affectionately be called She Beast from now on.
She Beast gave me my first official warning; I was exactly one minute late returning to work. Was it my fault that an old lady needed help opening the door? So much for helping out customers. Back to the kitchen / prep area for me – and I was just in time to see the lunch rush start. Meat patties stacked up five inches high, half rotten tomatoes recycled in the Shaker salads, chicken nuggets being tossed into the warming racks and my personal favorite – fighting off the flies. I was starting to realize some things about Mc Donald’s – they could really give a sh.it about the customer or if they leave happy. It’s all about productivity, getting the orders out fast [regardless of weather they are right or not] and cutting every corner imaginable. This – after only being there for five hours.
My second break was warmly welcomed. I needed to sit down and write down a few notes – but I had to be careful – I couldn’t just start writing in plain view so I had to walk around the side of the building near the play area to avoid anyone seeing me front he front windows. I scribbled my notes as fast as I could knowing that the She Beast would be waiting for me … lurking … like some hideous creature in a horror movie – grunting, hunched over al drooling everywhere.
Day One ended on a somber note. I was given some more papers to take home and read – something I call Mc Homework. Oddly enough I found myself reading these in the bathroom – not exactly a compelling read – but it did the trick.
I was told by Bob, the Supreme Commander, [he was a science fiction fanatic and loved the television show “V”] that Jason 1 and Jason 2 would be showing me things until She Beast arrived. Oh joy, she had a dentist appointment – maybe she would be rendered silent for a few hours. Jason 1 and 2. it makes me thing they were robots when in fact they were two college football players that ate more food behind the counter than they prepared. Still, they were sweet guys and showed noting but respect to everyone. It was their chore to turn me from “consumer of fast food” to “cook of fast food”.
I don’t care what you say, working in a fast food environment is rough. Customers bit.ching up a storm about having to wait for french fries, asking for a glass for water then using it for soda, kids that throw food everywhere [and I am not talking little kids] and the crème de la crème … the people who come in and ask how much a Big Mac is when the price is right above my head.
I worked behind the counter learning how things get stocked, how the ice cream machine works, where the Kids Meal toys are stocked, Mc Flurry ingredients and how to use the Mc Mixer. Jason 1 and 2 sort of knew something was up with me – they gave me “that” look and a little snicker. After my undercover assignment was completed I had them over to a home cooked meal and explained it all to them. Even after all that, they joined Epinions.
Day Two continued with the She Beast arriving like an unexpected typhoon. She may have had her mouth packed with cotton but it did nothing to drown out the irritating and obnoxious comments. She all but ignored me until I got in her way – she asked me “Don’t you have anything to do?” and told me to start sweeping the floor in the dining room. Now, I am not a rocket scientist, nor do I play one on TV, but it seems rather rude to start sweeping in the middle of the lunch hour when people are eating their food. Nonetheless, I grabbed the broom – which looked to be on it’s last leg – and ventured out into the dining area – also called “Ground Zero” by the employees.
After sweeping I was handed a pathetic excuse of a rag – that smelled worse than road kill – and was once again pointed back to the dining room to clean the table. Again, this is just plain stupid. You wipe the tables first then sweep so you avoid getting crumbs all over the place. Being a mindless drone I buzzed back to the dining area and carried out my instructions. Now, if you have never been in a Mc Donald’s during the peak of lunch hour it is something that I suggest for only the most hard core moms’ business class with limited lunch time and those seeking adventure. Most mom’s gave me a “pity look” as they rounded up their offspring and tried to tidy up their area. Hey, I was making minimum wage – what’s a few more napkins and chicken nuggets on the floor?
Day Three, Four and Five
The events were all starting to roll together. While I was enjoying some “free time” away from home it was starting to become all too apparent that Mc Donald’s basically sucks. They are not interested in having happy customers – they are more concerned with the bottom line, counting the cups and trying to find the most economical toilet paper.
My duties and education were never ending – learning the different beeps, dongs and repetitive noises that emitted from the prep area, how to properly salt the french fries, when a hamburger is really ready to go in the garbage, when chicken nuggets go in bags or boxes and a myriad of other mindless tasks that surely robbed me of I.Q. points.
Chicken Nuggets: This was a perplexing topic for me since I was a huge fan of them. Some Mc Donald’s offer “Deal Days” where you can get certain menu items for .99 cents. When it’s chicken nugget day they are served in bags rather than boxes to save money.
Salting The Fries: Yes, there is a proper way to salt the fries, no more than three shakes of the salt container. Is that why my fries always taste like they have more salt than the Dead Sea?
The Life of A Burger: Almost all of the Mc Donald’s claim to make your order fresh – every time. What they don’t tell you is this – all of the food is cooked and in little holding bays waiting to be dished out to customers. Chicken nuggets are pre-fried then placed in a heat stand [that big metal thing with all the metal trays]. There are time limits on how long an item can sit in the heat area – a time limit that is never marked on the outside of the unit – so it’s left up to the person in charge of that task to ‘remember’ when they get ditched. Burger patties are usually left sitting out for long periods of time – something I find unacceptable – and are microwaved when an order is placed. When it is “.39 cent cheeseburger day” they can be seen stacked up mile high.
There were still some things I hadn’t learned and a few unanswered questions about Mc Life as Mc Donald’s. The She Beast was really starting to get on my last nerve and I used most of my will power to stop myself from telling her what a piece of sh_it she was and that she had no right to talk to the employees the way she did. It was no wonder that they were constantly taking applications – they had at least one person a week walking off the job or giving notice.
Week Two also matched me up with Cookie, the transplanted New Yorker that refused to take sh_it from anyone – let alone the She Beast. Cookie was to teach me the counter details, break me in on how to process orders in the drive thru as well as how to do the bathroom checklist. It was also during week two that I met Myra and Luis – they broke the unwritten rule of dating co-workers and were regularly reprimanded for it. I was skating on thin ice – and those words came directly from the mouth of the She Beast. Again she threw a ‘bumper sticker’ piece of advice at me – and told me that if chose to associate with “those” people I’d never advance up the chain of command at Mc Donald’s. She was on a major power trip and if she wasn’t stopped she might just become a manager.
Bob made frequent comments about my job performance and called me an “asset to the team” and told me to “make sure mission command [the prep area] was kept spotless” in case of an inspection by the upper Mc Management teams. While this particular Mc Donald’s did have an A Rating from the Board of Health it was hard to understand why. Bugs in the kitchen, flies all over the dining room, fruit flies breeding all over the place – especially near the soda bar and my personal favorite – food that isn’t clearly marked with the “expiration time” on it.
I strongly recommend that if you are dining at Mc Donald’s that you ask for ketchup packets rather than using the pump dispensers – this is a breed ground for fruit flies and you never know when the pumps were cleaned last. It’s better to spend a few extra seconds peeling open the packets rather than ingesting dead fruit flies or their eggs. Have I managed to gross you out yet?
Week Three Taken from my notes.
I have reached my limit. She Beast is driving me nuts with her insults and constant digs on people. I can’t understand how these people put up with this for months – and even years – Luis pretty much ignores everything she says since most of the stuff she blurts out is in anger. I think my mission is complete and I’ve seen all that I need to see. Any suggestions I have made were ignored – especially about empting the garbage more often and cleaning the bottoms of the soda dispensers to try and get rid of some of the fruit flies. It seems that everything is by the book – and the book is never wrong. I gave my notice to Bob and he asked me to stop by tomorrow to talk to him about my complaints. He knows She Beast is a pain in the as.s and is counter-productive but she’s never going to get fired unless she crosses the line.
I’ve seen her verbally abuse a few employees – one of which told her to do something sexually impossible unless she is a hermaphrodite. Now I see why some of the counter people have such attitudes when serving people. I learned a very valuable lesson from all of this – some people are just not cut out for fast food employment. In all aspects of the truth I might have really liked working at this particular Mc Donald’s if it weren’t for She Beast. I never intended on continuing my employment after I gathered my information for the review but after meeting some awesome people and getting to know them beyond the workplace – I admit I will miss a few of them.
I will go and meet with Bob, The Supreme Commander, and tell him about the serious issues that I encountered. Some things really need to be addressed as soon as possible – if not for the sanity of the employees then for the safety of the customers.
So I ended my employment, turned in my nametag and t-shirt and headed home to start writing this review. I didn’t expect to be exposed to so much gross incompetence, negative attitude and ego power tripping – nor did I expect to learn so much about the bowels of fast food. I doubt I will ever go back to this Mc Donald’s again – I don’t care to see She Beast or be in the path of one of her ‘ice queen’ stares that she is so famous for.
As far as visiting any Mc Donald’s – there are a few – and I do mean a few – that are run properly. Where managers take their jobs seriously and the employees can trust them enough to be honest with them without having a fear that their jobs will be in jeopardy. There are a few that are clean without the fruit flies dive bombing your food and if I have to drive an extra 10 miles to eat in a bug free environment then I guess that’s what I’ll have to do.
Advice For The Commoners
Unless you have an impressive collection of name tags and hair nets like Wayne Campbell, you might not know what it’s like to work in a fast food place – or more to the point – what happens before your food gets tucked into the to go bag.
Spitting On The Burgers
While I never actually saw someone spit on someone’s food – I did hear about it happening. But without actually seeing the event I can’t say that’s it’s entirely true. I did see people drop burgers, pick them up and serve them to people – and mind you – this is the patty not the entire burger. Seeing as how the floors in the prep area are usually pretty dirty from dropped food, condiments that fell off burgers and general dirt tracked in from the freezer, outside, spills or other areas.
Like I said before, the nuggets are pretty much all precooked. Some places fry them and others throw them directly into the heaters – this is usually after they have been left out by accident or never made it into the fryers. You aren’t getting good cuts of chicken here folks – if they had to label the outside of the boxes with which parts of the chicken were used I am sure beaks and necks would be listed somewhere. Since they raised the price on the chicken Mc Nuggets Kids Meals I pretty much gave up on them and after seeing some of the ones that don’t make it to the general public I’ve sworn them off as a menu option for my kids.
If you come across a situation that isn’t taken care of my a manager then I highly suggest that you write a letter to the corporate offices. Don’t bother calling – that just isn’t effective. If you send a letter it is something they will be forced to deal with – and if you really want to get under their skin – send it with a signature confirmation so that if you get no response you can have proof that it was delivered as well as the person who signed for it.
Most people refuse to complain about poor service, food that is unacceptable or dining areas that are less than what is considered to be ‘clean’. I saw customers cleaning off their own tables, stacking up trays and throwing away garbage left by other customers. That – to me – is just wrong. You are paying [more like overpaying] for food, service and a place to eat – you are also paying the wages of the managers and employees that are supposed to have these areas clean [this includes that bathrooms].
If you have a problem and address the manager about it and still feel slighted, then it is up to you to do something about it. Nothing will change unless you take the first step to do something about it. For example – the trash situation. According to the Mc Donald’s protocol the trash is to be emptied on a certain schedule – a schedule that has nothing to do with if it is full or not [again, completely moronic]. When I suggested that the fruit fly, bug and insect conditions might be eliminated by emptying the trash more often – I was told that the garbage bags are accounted for and they only get a certain number to use per day. I even offered to pay for them out of my own pocket and was again told that they were only permitted to use Mc Donald approved items in the waste receptacles. However, when a customer complained about the insect situation she was handed a handful of free coupons and told that the situation is being taken care of, that they are doing everything they can to remedy the situation and that they appreciated her comments. What ever happened with that? Absolutely nothing at all. Aside form the free coupons they gave her – as well as the rehearsed speech – nothing was noted in the daily log about the complaint.
Now, if you have had enough of snooty counter help, managers that just don’t care and complaints that go unanswered here are a few little, harmless things you can do to get a little petty revenge.
French Fries: A time honored tradition – order your fries without salt. This is especially effective during peak times when a new batch will have to be made. It’s also funny to watch the whole scene unfold behind the counter. Since the job is mind numbing to begin with – 9 times out of 10 the person making the fries will salt them once they come out of the fryer just out of habit.
Special Order Burgers: If a fast food establishment claims that they “make it your way” then put them to the test. Order the condiments to be stacked in a certain order. Instead of the usual bun, patty, mayo, tomato, lettuce, bun line up try this one - bun, mayo, patty, pickle, tomato, and lettuce. I can almost guarantee that it will take them three tires to get it right. Again, this is all due to repetitive actions – kind of like trying to break a puppy from pooping in the corner.
Ice / No Ice: If you really want to see something funny ask for your beverage served with a full cup of ice or with no ice at all. Most employees are so used to one scoop of ice that anything other than that confuses them.
I came, I saw, I learned how to make fries. I know for a fact that I’ll be a little more tolerant of counter employees – but not if they get my order wrong. Sure it’s usually the kitchens fault when something comes out wrong but if I order something without onion and it comes out with onion – then someone is in the wrong. Ask for a receipt – if you ordered it without onions and the counter person messed it up – make sure it gets fixed. Some people might say “It’s only onions – just pick them off” … today it’s onions, tomorrow it’s pickles and before you know it you don’t even get a say in what you order – you are just handed a bag and directed to the dining area.
Well, that’s about all for now. Thanks for enduring a particularly long review. As always, thanks for stopping by!
^V^ Freak ^V^
To Lessthannick1 for enduring my absence from Epinions and not posting my tribute / write off review for the music swap. I know it’s late but it will be the next Epinion I publish. Yeah, I have said that over and over.. but this time I mean it.
To Jason 1 and 2 for being super cool football guys and helping lay down my new lawn. I’ll never be able to order a Mc Flurry with Oreo’s again without thinking of you to goofballs.
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