The Californian

Struggles of the fast food industry

Kiley Borba, Staff Writer

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The bell rings, I trudge out of my last class of the day. Finally, Friday is finished, and I completed another week of school without ruining my life. Time to go home, relax, and catch up on the five days of sleep I’ve lost…

Except that won’t be happening, I need to eat a quick lunch, get dressed, and drag my exhausted self to my car, because I have work at the Habit Burger Grill.

Yes, most teenagers who have a car and a social life know the suffering that comes with a high school payroll job. 

Too young to be an Uber driver and too old to not have shame from asking our parents for money, we force ourselves into jobs the rest of society sees as “unskilled” or “meant for teenagers”, as if our underdeveloped frontal lobe makes us undeserving of a decent paying job.

Before I know it, it’s an hour before the restaurant closes, and the place is packed. With a line out the door, and me trying to take orders, a thought crosses my mind: Why are these people here? 

No seriously, what functioning people drags themselves into a car at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night to pay their hard earned money for a salad? 

It’s a safe to bet at least half of these people could just make a sandwich at home.

Then there are times I am  going about my day, taking orders, trying to not look at the clock in hopes time will go by faster, when it happens. 

You know the moment your fate is sealed when you ask a customer, “Is there anything I can get for you, sir?” And as if he was the whisper of death himself, he replies with, “A million dollars.”

The fields of your soul go barren, and remnants of any joy you once had is torn down like the plague, and all you can do now, having heard this for the 50th time today, is give the least sincere laugh you can give, because any sincerity you once had was wasted on saying, “That’ll be a million dollars, plus tax,” the last 40 times you had heard this. 

Interestingly enough, there is a 90 percent chance this customer is a middle aged guy that’ll ask, “Why aren’t you smiling?”

In fast food joints, what you often have is a system where they serve you this cheap, unhealthy food, and the only responsibility you have if you eat in the establishment is to throw away your remnants when you’re done. 

Often customers are supplied with a nifty plastic tray to make disposal of paper and scraps of food even easier.

Yet here I am, standing in front of the table once filled with the presence of a “beloved” customer. I stare into the void at the dirty table and tray covered in balled up napkins, half full cups, and sauce spilled everywhere.

My faith in humanity, once again, is purged from the earth.

So, my fellow teenagers, does this mean you should stop going to fast food places? The answer of course isn’t exactly yes, because I still need a way to make money to buy my stress cakes – cakes to eat when faced with slight inconveniences in life. 

Spend your money however you want, but there are a few simple things you can do to make me, and many others’ jobs easier.

First, if you see the place you want to eat at has a line out the door, turn around, and go somewhere else. Waiting 20 minutes in line and another 15 minutes to get your food helps neither of us.

Second, know exactly what you want to get because while the cashier may be good at hiding it, there is nothing that sparks the fires of hell within them than you changing your order two seconds after your debit card was already swiped.

And finally, unless you’re family, friend or my crush, just let me take your order. No small talk, no jokes, don’t even ask, “How are you?” 

Most cashiers have a system of questions and movements that we perform unconsciously by reflex from doing this for hours on end. 

It allows us to take your order in the quickest, most efficient way possible, and the last thing that helps either of us is you saying things that in the long run, neither of us care about.

Especially that million dollar comment.

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The School Newspaper for California High School, San Ramon CA
Struggles of the fast food industry