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The perils of working in fast food

I was employed at a fast food restaurant in Baker County for more than a year, and I have a lot to say about my experience. Let me tell you, it was awful. The only thing good about it was I met some wonderful people and learned how to handle money and deal with customers.

It was a long year of never being able to count on hours. You can have 20-25 hours one week and 15 hours the next, and when you’re already making minimum wage, that’s definitely not okay. And how is it fair that the only raise I got was 6 cents when minimum wage was changed?

I worked when I was there, and I came in countless times to cover for other people. I worked Friday nights on the cash register by myself with rude, impatient customers who wanted their food immediately. They didn’t understand that food takes time to cook, and many times, there’s only one person making sandwiches for both the lobby and drive-thru window. When customers get impatient, and your coworkers get stressed and snap at you, it all makes for a stressful environment.

Not only were the customers rude, but so were the employees. Everybody talked behind everybody’s backs and employees would berate their coworkers if they messed up an order or pressed a wrong button.

When you call out sick, nobody believes you and the managers talk bad about you. I called out once because I had an emergency at my house with fire trucks and police cars and everything, and I was told nobody believed me until the fire chief confirmed it. Yeah, right, because that’s totally something I’m going to make up.

Most of the managers smoked. I normally don’t say anything about people who smoke, but when you have to bring another manager with you, while we’re all busy, that’s not okay. They would go outside and waste 10 to 15 minutes smoking, without clocking out.

Working in fast food teaches you teamwork, leadership and customer service, and you will meet some fantastic people, but in my opinion, it’s not worth the tears you eventually cry, and the cursing out by customers and coworkers, or the awful pay.

I wrote this in the hopes that it would make people think and open their eyes. It’s the hardest job I’ll ever have, my mother says. Next time you walk into your favorite restaurant, do so with a smile. You never know. You just may make that employee’s day 10 times better.

Ms. Fernandez, 20, lives in Macclenny and plans to begin attending Florida State College at Jacksonville next month.

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