In my checkered past among the many jobs I had, I worked for McDonalds. Ah yes, the golden arches. Back when I started work at McDs, there were no computers. All the orders were taken with pencil and paper. Every special grill order was handwritten. We added the order up in our heads--including the tax!
This was in the days before the ubiquitous drive-thru. If you wanted a hamburger, you had to park and walk inside. The first day I worked at McDonalds there was a five-for-a-dollar special on hamburgers and the place was mobbed. A young man served as my back-up, bagging hamburgers as fast as I could complete the order. It was only later that I discovered he was the manager.
A few years later the drive-thru came to town. I was already serving as the crew chief and trainer so training the crews for four stores fell to me. Now at this time, I lived in Houston where they talk southern. I cannot begin to describe what that sounds like over a speaker--from either end. Just trust me when I say that you were never sure what you were going to get when you ordered.
Before they corporationalized all the fast food joints, there was real adventure in working at McDonalds. We had drama and danger, hilarity and pathos. Now... not so much.
An itinerant group dropped by our store, hanging out in the parking lot, pan-handling for money, and peeing in the bushes (notwithstanding the fact that we had functioning restrooms!)
A certain young lady--regular customer every Saturday--ordered a Big Mac, consumed most of it and then yanked a hair out of her head and stuck it in the remainder which she would return to the crew person on duty, demanding another sandwich. The manager finally caught her on tape and halted the free Mac train.
Another regular customer--definitely not a gentleman--used the drive-thru to order a milkshake late at night. When the crew person on duty delivered the shake, they got more than change. The man had it hanging out to air. One night I recognized his voice on the speaker and elected to deliver his shake myself. When I leaned out, I accidentally squeezed the top open and dumped it in his lap.
I always wondered how he explained the chocolate shake inside his trousers to his wife...
After five or six years with McDs, the danger that is most dreaded happened. We were robbed. No one was hurt. But a shotgun in the belly is something you never forget. I had three children with a fourth on the way. We needed the money so I hung in there.
Three weeks later I was working my regular shift on a particularly slow night. Two men in coveralls walked through the door. I had no reason for my uneasiness. The men were white. The man that robbed us three weeks before was black. But something in their demeanor bothered me. This is how it went...
Good evening. Welcome to McDonalds. How may I help you?
Uh, this is a holdup.
This is a holdup!
Oh. Excuse me. Yep that was me--always polite even during a robbery. I turned around and walked to the back of the store, by which time I was sobbing my heart out.
My manager asked what was wrong. All I could seem to get out was a wailing hoooold up! The entire crew belted back up to the front of the store in time to watch the two guys run out to their van which they backed out onto the road before racing off.
Naturally, the manager called the police. By that time, I was feeling quite foolish. The police came, took down my statement, and when I finally tentatively suggested that the erstwhile customers were probably just kidding around, he shook his head.
No, he said. They robbed the Jack in the Box down the road and shot three people. They weren't fooling around.
I gave my life some serious thought. And turned in my resignation. And found a safer line of work... substitute elementary school teacher!