Skip to comments.Working Grills: A burger-flipper's-eye view of fast-food management styles.
Posted on 01/17/2007 7:19:47 AM PST by T-Bird45
As White House chief of staff for almost 5 1/2 years, I faced many significant management challenges. The incoming tasks never seemed to let up and expectations always seemed to exceed realization. I described the job as drinking from a fire hydrant or working a fast-food counter during a lunch-hour rush that never ends.
I knew something about life behind the fast-food counter. My first experience was in high school in Brockton, Mass., at the hamburger restaurant Kemps of America, where a meal of a burger, fries and a drink cost about 35 cents. While at the University of South Carolina, to support a wife and growing family, I worked at McDonald's in Columbia. At 85 cents an hour, I clocked as many as 50 hours a week and could eat all I wanted during 10-minute breaks. I did time at the grill, the fry vat and the counter. I loved the counter job. It was well before computers calculated the tab, so I enjoyed the challenge of adding up the bill before it could be punched on the cash-register buttons. It wasn't long before I became a shift leader and then the night manager. Boy, did I learn how to manage!
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That does look like an interesting book. Biggest lesson I took out of my time in fastfood is the real meaning of job stress. Now that I sit at a desk in air conditioning without 100 customers in the lobby ready to complain about any minor misstep I know that no deadline I face can legitimately be called stress.
As a manager at a fast food restaurant for the past 16 years, I've seen most of these managerial styles. I can honestly say I don't know of any instance where the manager gave lap dances to favored employees.
Food service work is a great place to learn a first job. At a minimum one learns management of tasks in a hurried environment. Started as a dishwasher and then cook in a non chain seafood restaurant while in HS. The skills I learned for managing many items at once in a broiler, deep fryer, oven, etc were helpful in college. As a freshman in quantitative chem lab, I could manage 5 simultaneous experiments where others struggled to do 3. My accuracy and precision outpaced the class by a huge margin.
My daughter worked at McD's during high school mostly doing drive up. She would often come home with stories about customers who demanded a certain number of pickles, that the meat and bun be served separately, that the sesame seeds be removed from the bun because they were allergic and my favorite ...during one of the 2 burgers for a buck sales the customer who ordered 30 burgers, assuring her they were not all for him...when he drove up to the window it was rather obvious from his massive obesity that they were.
Agreed since that is where I started in a regular payroll type of job (first job was a paper route). My son and daughter both have had this experience and it is now my son's management job after getting a degree in hotel/restaurant management. My daughter is currently in college but works part-time at the IHOP and makes pretty good tips for a college town. On football Homecoming Weekend, she made over $200 in tips in one shift.
I personaly think the best thing that comes from these types of jobs is the understanding that the customer is the one that pays the bills and calls the shots. This serves anyone in future positions.
Having worked at McDonalds during high school, and in a $600,000+ a week kitchen for a national chain for 3.5 years during college, I can tell you that nearly all job skills (customer satisfaction, first impressions, deadlines, co-worker relationships, departmental cooperation, taking care of the lower level employees, efficiency, cross training, etc...) can be and are learned "flipping burgers".
A rare (perhaps nonexistent?) skill nowadays.
Even today, I'm still amazed at the people who think managing a fast food store is for losers or those who can't obtain gainfull employment elsewhere.
When I received my .40c an hour raise at the Western Steer I bought a newer car. Thats 16.00 bucks a week. The value of money is greatly appreciated when you must work for it.
Stress? You should work a day or two as a correctional officer. Those damn convicts make me so mad sometimes I feel like I'm gonna stroke out.
I used to do the same thing in the concession stand. The cash register would freak if you entered numbers too quickly. So I just did it in my head
Yeah. It's strange how the higher you go, the easier work becomes. It angers me the way people treat clerks who are busting their butts for $7/hour.
A month of working as a busboy gave me all the incentive I needed to stay in college for five years.
Corrections would definitely be a high stress job. Any job where there's a serious chance of you dieing is top of the list for stressful jobs, same with any job where there's a good chance any screwup by you could result in somebody's death. The stress in fastfood mostly comes from the pace, I remember one brutal day when we wound up seriously understaffed and an unexpected surge of people came in, in the grill there was me and one other guy (luckily one I had trained, more luckily one of the ones I was proud to have trained) and we had a 600 customer hour. Not as stressful as corrections to be sure, but 2 people cranking out food for 10 people every minute is a rough way to earn five and a half bucks.
I did the food service industry, and what it tought me the most was, go get an education and bust your ass so that you, nor your children will ever have to do that again....
Nothing against those whos career it is, but it definately was not for me.
Answering to managers who honestly I wouldn't have trusted to answer the phones at a complaint department, regional supervisors who were 10 years removed from actually working the floor trolloping in edicting bad practices and layout changes...
The last straw for me was when I was ordered to continue to use a defective oil filtration machine, that had already shocked me twice. Wasn't good enough I was one of only a 2 people in the place that could and would do the job in the first place.
I will admit I learned a lot, and did everything in the place at one point or another, but the biggest lesson I learned was I don't EVER EVER EVER want to again work in an industry where the majority of your staff are teenagers... and I was a teenager at the time.
Hard work has never bothered me, micromanagement ALWAYS has.... tell me what needs done, then just get the hell out of my way and let me do it.
In the city of Greeley CO where I reside, I have to speak Spanish to order at McD's let alone any FF restaurant. I think that as the illegals continue to take all the entry level positions, they leave none for our children to learn from. Kinda like goats going through the field before the cattle can make it to the grass.
5.5 bucks? Ha... was about $3 an hour or so back when I was in there.. then the minum wage increase took place, so I got to watch it effecitively take away a years worth of raises...
I learned a LOT from working those jobs.. biggest lesson without fail is, to do everything in your power so that you don't have to ever do it again.
Damn close to non-existent.
During Christmas-shopping time, I was in a local gift store (Ann's Fine Gifts, for you Houstonians) staffed mostly by older ladies. The lady who waited on me counted back my change - "Sixty-five fifty-six, and forty-four cents is sixty-six, sixty-seven, sixty-eight, sixty-nine, and there's seventy."
I told her I was impressed to find that skill still extant.
We must have been around the same time. Minimum was I think 3.35 when I started then went up. In your previous post you mentioned layout changes, boy did that bring back some painful memories. We had one of those regional managers who always wanted to tweak where everything in the grill area was, which invariably led to me smacking into them at high speed, I got a bruise on my shoulder that I couldn't cover with my hand from one of his tweaks. He just couldn't seem to grasp that everybody, especially the ones that worked mids so we were alone back there, had their favorite place for all the equipment so we could navigate without thinking and no good could come from moving anything so much as an inch. Eventually he was instrumental in getting me fired from that gig, and my "lack of respect" for his "efficiency ideas" was on his list of complaints. Sure is nice to be out of that crap.
If I could find a clerk who actually WAS busting his butt for $7 an hour, I'd be nice to him.
The clerks I find, with the exception of the lovely ladies at Ann's (see above), are uniformly sullen and unsmiling, and I'm lucky if they speak English.
I know I sound like an old coot, but I would have been fired from any hourly job I ever had for displaying the demeanor these angsty younguns do.
It is the leftists and the "entitlement" groups are the most vicious in putting down burger flippers.
I had a boss once who would say "I don't care what you do, just make it happen."
A local radio morning show host does that. His major beef is that they put people who don't speak english at the drive-thru! He calls the 800 number and leaves a message that he understands they just want to work and are trying to support their families, but for the love of God, don't put them at the drive-thru. He says he does it about once a week. The place continues to have them at the drive-thru.
Good assessment. I think today's kids who grow up in well-off families and don't work are really missing out. My daughter began to work at 16 and worked in a food establishment (not fast food). She has learned a lot. She graduates from college this semester and I know is much readier to face a permament job because of her "menial" labor jobs.
I teach ESL and I know that most, if not all, of my students are illegal. I can tell that they work extremely hard. I have a former teacher and a former doctor who are here cleaning floors and bussing tables. What that tells me is how incredibly important freedom is and the ability to take care of your family. I did food-service work in college and I know how much I hated it. You're so right about the lesson it teaches... But it is humbling me these days to be reminded how blessed I am to live on the "greatest nation on God's green earth." (Medved) I am SO grateful that I don't have to work like that again!
You know, my place once hired a guy that last worked at a big aerospace plant in Redondo Beach, CA. for 15 years. He was a well-paid dummy there. One of those lazy guys that gets lost in the mix of thousands and hides in plain sight in his tech area. Didn't make noise and collected big checks.
I don't like being nagged by pages and the usually clueless when I am actually making something work or testing an idea. I can't just sit around like that.
When I was young I had a McD job for a short time. Then pumped gas for a while. Just to pay for the car my dad accurately predicted would run on piss:):)
I'm impressed when a fast food place has a mixture of workers of all ages, older workers as well as teenagers. Pass the opportunity for work around, I say, don't just hire the young ones.
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