Teens share experiences working in fast food industry

Students bear the brunt of bad behavior as customers yell and throw things


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Fast food workers bear the brunt of angry customers, but many of those employees are just teenagers.

Paola Zapata , Reporter

“Go back to Mexico” is just one of the many racially motivated things that I have heard working at McDonald’s.  

Working at McDonald’s was not really my first choice of work. It was not even my second. But working fast food is one of the easiest jobs for teens right now, and considering the starting pay has increased substantially at many places, fast food can be a desirable job. Despite that, however, some customers make students wonder if it is worth the hassle as they berate workers for everything from incorrect change to lobby closures.

“People’s coffee is very important to them. I have had a customer yell at me over a salted caramel cold foam cold brew – twice,” said Vinny Langworthy, a barista at Starbucks.  

Dealing with hungry people is not the easiest job, especially when there is a morning rush. People want their food fast and they want it made right. However, many people do not actually realize how tough it is to work fast food. Whether it is taking orders and money, or just being in a rush in the kitchen, people need to realize that there are actual people working inside these places and not just machines and that quality requires time.

What customers often fail to realize is it is mainly teens who work fast food. While there are adults present, the majority of employees are teens. However, this does not deter people from harassing minors.   

“One customer got so mad she threw her food and drink back at us,” said Stephanie Garcia, former worker at Golden Chick. 

“A customer was really rude to me because I wasn’t ‘fast enough’ on order taking but I was the only one taking orders at the moment, and she cussed at me because I apparently rolled my eyes at her,” said Dayanne Garcia, an employee at Chick-Fl-A.  

I have even had someone throw money at me, because I didn’t hand them their money in their hand during the peak of the pandemic when the company required employees to slide money and receipts to customers to limit contact. The customer told me that I was ‘so f***ing rude’ and that I had no manners.  

Another thing adding to the struggle fast food places have is that so many places are currently understaffed, leading to shortages and closings. People have harassed us and have thrown fits over the restaurant lobby not being open.  

Customers need to realize the mental and emotional abuse that many teens go through working fast food. Being yelled at over a wrong drink or order is childish behavior. Just simply asking employees for the correct order nicely is not hard.  

Fast food workers have it tough, considering that most of society looks down on us. Fast food places are always the one place that no one wants to work because of how rude people are. Society puts it in your head that if you end up working fast food for the rest of your life, you’re considered a failure. That shouldn’t be the standard anymore because a job is a job.  

Garcia, who had a bad experience, said that she will never go back to working at a fast food place. 

“I just hated the job. I guess towards the end of me working there was like every day I wanted to quit, because it just got worse. I was overworked, working 40 hours and sometimes doing overtime, and I was only getting paid $8.25 an hour,” she said. 

Although some teens have good experiences working fast food, we need to take into consideration that not everyone is going to like their job because of how rude customers are.  

America has this culture of ‘the customer is always right’ and it is time to realize that adage just is not always true. Teens know how to do their job, and we should not get yelled at for a minor inconvenience. Saying please and thank you to your friendly drive-thru worker goes a lot farther than throwing things at them.