Reflections on manners from a fast food worker

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 22, 2002

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be on the crew side of the counter at a fast food restaurant?

Through my experience working in fast food for two summers, I've learned that both customers and workers can be rude. After all, fast food isn't the most glamorous of jobs.

I've had customers shout their order at me through the drive-thru speaker. That's uncalled for when they are sitting only 4 inches from the speaker.

Customers with diesel trucks don't understand that the sound of their engine through the speaker is enough to give anyone wearing a headset a splitting headache.

At every fast food restaurant there is always a "yes" policy. The customer is to be treated as a guest and you must do what they ask.

"My fries are cold," says a female customer.

"Yes, ma'am, I'll get you some more when they come up," the server replies.

When a sandwich is cold or not prepared right, as a crew person I had the duty to replace it.

There are stressful times in fast food when customers come in during rushes. It can get interesting when there are only a few crew members left to work and it's almost closing time.

One thing about the fast food place where I worked was the fact that our restaurant manager always made sure the crew had something to do when we weren't helping a customer.

My duties consisted of keeping the lobby looking nice and stocked. This meant cleaning up tables that had been left with a mess on them and cleaning up around the drink bar.

What bothered me was the person who'd come to the drive-thru and talk so fast that I couldn't get all of their order and then they would want all of the order upsized.

When I ask the customer if they'd like to try a desert after they've completed their order, they reply in a rude tone, "No, that's all."

Customers need to understand that the crew is required to ask things such as, "Would you like fries or a drink with that?" when working in the drive-thru.

I was always the one who worked on the front line, taking orders and expediting food. Anyone working front line was always required to smile, greet the customer and serve their food promptly. Sometimes when a customer is rude, it's hard to stand behind the counter and smile at them and be polite.

When working in the back, at the grill, it's a job to keep buns toasted and in the steamer and the meat in check.

I often prefered to work in the back where I don't have to deal with rude customers, but sometimes I'd like to float from position to position.

No matter if you are the crew person or the customer, you each have a job to do and that is the job of showing polite manners even if you have to answer several questions about an order.

As a crew person try to be patient when taking an order and as a customer try to be understanding when you are asked what you'd like to drink. It's all part of the job.