Monday, January 24

McDonald's Adventures: The end

Two Fridays past I gave notice that I would quit McDonald's. Yesterday it happened. I worked my last shift. In two weeks I'll pick up my final pay check and turn in my uniform. For this, we can thank Mrs. Mallory Ferland Ramos who let me know about a place online that would 15 dollars for how-to articles, allowing me to make more money in less time according to my own schedule without three levels of managers and not requiring being on my feet all day. We can all show our appreciation to her by visiting The Salty Cod and reading of her baking adventures as an expatriate in Brazil.

To McDonald's I say so long, farewell, good riddance. I never wanted to work there, but when no other place would accept my application, I had to take what I could get to pay the rent and buy the groceries. I never liked working there. I never looked forward to the upcoming shift. I did not want to put my bachelor's degree to use in scraping eggs and meat off a grill. I did not want to come back from a year in Kenya and Indonesia to pull chicken and fish from deep fryers. Whenever the managers needed a volunteer to leave early because there were too many of us in the back for too few customers, I was always among the first to offer.

At some point, not so long after I started, this line of thinking mutated. It changed distaste for to an active hatred of my job. From there it was not such a leap to a demand for justice.

A ridiculous thought, yes. No wrong was ever done. They didn't treat me poorly. McDonald's offered me a job when no else did. No one shouted at me. So long as I dropped meat on the grill and delivered it to the heating cabinet as requested, they left me alone, all I asked or hoped for. My only complaint was that they scheduled me for the late shift on Christmas Eve and opening on Boxing Day, not even allowing me to spend a second night in Butte, but then they gave me New Year's Day off. Still I believed that wrong, somewhere, sometime, had been committed, and I needed to respond to it. To give it the simplest formulation: I didn't like my job. Someone had to pay.

Not that I pursued this anywhere either. Working slow would only inconvenience the customers, most of whom were senior citizens looking for a meal out that wouldn't break their Social Security check. Skipping a shift without a call would force more work on the rest of the crew, none of whom liked their jobs particularly much either. I didn't argue with the managers. They didn't make enough money to deserve it, and in keeping with the trend, also didn't want to work at McDonald's. Who was I to make their shifts any worse?

That only left the owners, a couple I saw pass through to their office in the basement a few times a week. What was I going to do to them, trip them? By the end, I resolved to spend as much of their money as possible. Not that this came to much of anything either. I wasn't going to steal food so long as I was a vegetarian or had culinary standards. I wasn't going to throw food away on a whim when kids were starving in whatever developing country. Instead, I used new paper tray liners for every run of meat and new boxes to microwave every batch of biscuits. These were the sorts of things that were taught in the training slideshows but no one bothered to follow day to day. I was reduced to trying to get back at the owners for hiring me by following the rules to the full extent.

Even on my last shift I took no vengeance. I didn't curse out the idiot manager whose idea of leadership was telling the crew under him to do what another manager had just asked him to do and who could only toast English muffins during breakfast because he had no idea how to do anything else. I stole a biscuit that would have been thrown out in any case because I was hungry. The opening manager was even pleasantly surprised that I showed up. Most people blow their final day off. I steamed the grill and left promptly when my shift was over. I just wanted it to be over.

I'm happier now.

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