Duane Gundrum

Duane Gundrum
Grand Rapids, Michigan,
February 12
Writer, professor (did his Phd work in political science and holds another graduate degree in communication), former computer game designer, previously a counterintelligence agent, and currently an all around strange person. Author of 13 novels of all different types. Lives a life that is sadly in the shadow of a room full of stuffed animals who have a lot more Facebook friends than he does. Writes a lot of humor, even if his mommy is the only one who says he's funny. Also the creator of the comic strip, The Adventures of Stickman and the Unemployed Legospaceman. *********************************** My first book, Innocent Until Proven Guilty, is now on Amazon in the Kindle store. See the link as part of my links below. *********************************** If you're interested in my science fiction novel, Thompson's Bounty, the link for it is at the bottom of my profile, under Professional Writing. The link is for the Kindle version, but the paperback version is also available on Amazon. ************************************ My blog can now be subscribed to on Amazon. See my links below. ************************************ If you want to friend me on facebook, feel free to send me an invite to www.facebook.com/duane.gundrum ********************************* For twitter, follow me at DuaneGundrum.

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 12, 2010 3:45PM

I worked at McDonalds for almost one whole day

Rate: 24 Flag

I didn't really need a job at the time. I was just out of the Army, and I had enough money saved up to live for a few years doing absolutely nothing but just embracing my civilian lifestyle. But out of the blue, I answered an ad for a management job at McDonalds where they were looking for junior managers to work in their establishments. The place I was to work at for the next few days wasn't going to be the one where I'd end up, but the job I was supposed to do was more of a "see if you like the place before we actually send you to junior management school" or something like that. So I reported for my first day to see what it would be like.

The people who worked there were pretty cool. They didn't know what to make of me as I wasn't really one of them, as they knew I was in some kind of management program, but at the same time I wasn't really a manager, so I was kind of like the new trainee with privileges, although didn't actually have any privileges either.

But I'd just left the Gulf War where I spent a good deal of my time behind enemy lines hunting down commo lines with my spec ops team, which was simple-ese for "chop up a commo wire, wait for someone to come looking for where the line is broken, follow him back to the command tent, take out the leadership and then look for another commo line", an action we'd repeat until the actual invasion took place, where the enemy would act all surprised because they'd have zero communications with any of their command structure. So how hard could working the line of a McDonalds be?

Pretty hard, actually. It wasn't the job that was hard. It was the people. In the past, if someone was rude to me, I either ignored him, hit him, killed him (well, in only very limited circumstances, obviously) or laughed at him. This was the first time in a long time where I had to stand there and just take it.

And take it I did. The morning rush was chaos, and for some reason because I happened to look like a manager (dressed differently than everyone else), I was the one they started yelling at, talking about how they ran a multimillion dollar business of some sorts and if it was this badly run, they'd fire everyone, kill their families and then...well, you get the picture. That's about how most of the conversations went. People get really pissy when their orange juice takes twenty seconds longer than they're prepared to wait or their egg mcmuffin doesn't come out as fast as they wanted it to be. I can't tell you how many times I just stared at some moron and thought, "is this guy serious?" But sadly, most of them were.

This was repeated during the lunch crowd. Except this time the crowd was even worse. They yelled at everybody for pretty much anything. No one was happy. Everyone was rude. And for the first time I started to realize that no one should ever have to work in an environment like this.

I wasn't even thinking of myself because I knew right about fifteen minutes into the morning breakfast rush that I wasn't going to be back. But then I kept looking at the rest of the staff, and some of the people working there were going to be working there for as long as they were allowed, and it was obvious that they would be coming back to a place where random strangers would yell at them every morning and afternoon because they were there. Not because they screwed up or anything like that, but just because they were there and the people in line felt that any employee of a fast food restaurant was obviously stupid and deserving of verbal punishment.

So I spent the majority of my time trying to help out the few of them that were there, and I could see how tired they were. They were exhausted, and it wasn't because they needed sleep. They needed a change, and they were never going to get it. They were stuck here forever, and this would happen every day for the rest of their miserable lives.

I didn't meet a single happy one there the entire time I was there. Now, don't get me wrong because I've been to other fast food restaurants, including the same chain, where the employees appeared very happy. But not at this one. These people were miserable, and their environment was never going to change.

When my shift finally ended, the main manager asked me what I thought, quickly telling me when we'd start the next day, and I just shook my head, saying, "this is my first and last day. Thank you." And she nodded, saying, "I wish I had the same option."

So we parted ways, and I never went back.

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It is so wonderful to have options. Just can't believe how rude people are. It's getting that way in Canada too, but not as bad as you describe.
sounds sad. thanks for posting. rated
Why is there no published literature that capures this experience? Or the experiences of the millions upon millions of people who work in the "service industries?" For that matter, when did we all start using that detestable phrase, which literally makes people on the bottom out to be free-floating "servants" of...who exactly?
Straight out of "Fast Times At Ridgemont High". Some things never change.
So sad for everyone stuck in those circumstances. What is with people, anyway? It's like the chain of screaming, but it's not funny, and I'm thinking, more and more often, that people are just stupid and cruel.
Wonderful your narrative... a vivid example of two diferent scenarios in life: one where you "must kill to survive" and other where you "want to kill and survive" your daily job. Enjoy your civilian life...
Wouldn't it be funny if you found out the whole thing was a setup. They were actors, all of them. They do that to see who can take it the longest. There's videos, mirrors and closed circuit. Bets were laid down. You may have made someone rich by staying the whole shift. Well-written and entertaining!
Sounds like a very negative, toxic work environment. There's a great scene in the movie, "Falling Down" that takes place in a fast food restaurant. IMHO, one of Michael Douglas' best performances.
I guess I finally made it to the big time. Someone is spamming my comments. :)

Thank you to all who have commented.

emma peel: Yes, definitely it is nice to have options.
sheba marx: Yes, I agree, and thanks for posting as well.
BOKO: Some of Erlichmen's stuff kind of touches on this (Nickle and Dimed). I get the idea not a lot of people want to read about people who are suffering, so they pretty much just make it that much harder to print it.
ANFSCD: Hadn't thought about Fast Times in a while, but yeah, I can see what you mean.
moniquec: I think a lot of people are so into their own little worlds that they often don't care about anyone else.
DanielSaldivar: I definitely try to enjoy the civilian life, and thank you.
Daniel E Walsh: Never thought of it being a Candid Camera type of thing, but fortunately that wasn't the case. The people were suffering a little too real to be actors, although people are capable of all sorts of bizarre things these days.
littlewillie: Saw Falling Down a long time ago. Don't remember the scene, but may have to watch it just to recall it.
Great post! I know you've heard about the Stewardess, it's on everywhere. Maybe you should have gabbed two chocolate shakes and jumped out the drive-thru window! It wouldn't of helped you, but the rest of the workers would have fell out, hah!
This is a well written and captivating post. That happiness thing can be so elusive for so many. I felt sorry for the manager.
I now have a better understanding of why my 16 year old worked at Burger King for only two days. I wish he had some money saved up like you did! Thanks for your military service. It's greatly appreciated.
One of the effects of the current job market is that there are many who work, but, wish they could find the kind of job that would be worthwhile.

Great post.
I worked at McDonalds for 2 full years, I started when I was 14 so I really didn't know that most jobs didn't involve being yelled at everyday. If only I had known, maybe I would have worked at the supermarket instead...

Rated for accuracy.
I admire your courage and your strength of will. I have always said (Really!) that everyone should have to (1) do a stint in the military (or in my case, law enforcement) and (2) work at a fast food restaurant in order to appreciate what your life could be like. Only then can you truly appreciate what your life should be all about ... finding happiness in a job that doesn't suck the life out of you. I wish you every success in finding that job and thank you for sharing your experience, an experience that everyone should have to go through, so people can have the opportunity to take a look at themselves and ask themselves "what was so life-threatening that I had to be rude to the McDonald's person because my Big Mac wasn't instantaneously ready when I drove up to the drive-thru window".

"The Ultimate Survivor".
this was great! rudeness seems to be so easily accepted these days....how sad. glad you got out before you became one of "them". rated for bravery!
scanner - thank you for your comments. Yes, that would have been a great way to end the moment, but this happened in the past, before the whole steward thing occurred. But good idea, nonetheless
grif - thank you. And yes, I still feel bad for that manager.
Military Missions, RARobertsJr, and bethybug - thank you for your kind comments
sueinaz - I've had a lot of conversations with people who have worked at fast food places, since I wrote this, and they all seem to say the exact same thing. I think people have no clue what it is like to work in that environment until they do
John Doe - I always thought it would make life interesting if everyone had to serve, but fortunately we live in a society free enough that not everyone has to, so I sometimes have mixed thoughts on that.
There's something about working in the low-end service industry (in America) that seems to make you a target for everyone's bitch-fests and shit-storms.

(I worked at Starbucks for a couple of years in high school. It's no McDonald's but I can only guess how much worse that would have been.)

Rich "entitlement" plus the whole "self-made-man-up-by-the-bootstraps" American Dream - anyone doing "worse" than you - must be a total loser - worthy of scorn and abuse.

Having a bad day?

Take it out on the nearest fast-food employee!
McDonalds! Oh noes! (Gagging noises)
Wow, I don't envy you that experience.
Well the only time I complained in a McDonalds was when my salad was all limp and I pointed up to the photograph of the relevant meal and I said simply and politely, " Please could you make my meal look like that?" The lad immediately made another with fresh salad (though this time he added it last!) I presume you had to put up with far worse than that? J
it's america, and only part of america at that. sounds like what i remember of new york. in pascagoula, mississippi, never a rude word. other problems, but not rude.

maybe nowadays things are getting worse, people are losing jobs and homes, and discovering they are part of the expendable class.
I feel sorry for people who have to work fast food jobs, they are treated so unfairly - you are right, customers just assume that they are stupid. Thanks for your post. Rated.
an obvious question you dont address... so why do you think everyone was so unhappy at this particular branch?