I *was* an assistant manager for a McDonald's Franchisee in Tucson, AZ from 2007 to 2008, and was hired with the explicit intention of being management and not a standard crew member. I worked hard in learning the procedures and processes of the corporation, with a goal of a much longer career than I actually had. My every day life evolved while I was there, starting from the least desirable position to overall operations. I wrote a blog detailing my experiences as well.
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Great question. Most of the disrespect from customers was less direct than it was general attitude. Many people who come through a fast food restaurant - especially through a McDonald's - tend to think of the employees as dumb, dregs of society, not worthy of respect. Not most, just many. I can understand that perception because - let's face it - many people working there actually are not the best, shining examples of what humanity has to offer. However, this is true in every position, in every company, in every industry in the history of humanity. The biggest and most common form of disrespect that people heaped upon myself or my crew was basic: neglecting to say "please" and "thank you". Or, equally disrespectful, saying, "Give me a ..." instead of "May I have" or "I would like", when placing an order. Some more common incidences were when someone waited, they would generally get really snippy. This tended to be women (it just was). Some commentary would include looking around to get crowd-affirmation and saying things like "You people are slow" or "Will you hurry the (expletive) up?" or "What's taking you so long?!". These were also almost always the person who came in and ordered $35 worth of Dollar Menu items, each and every one made with some special request. Well, of course you're going to wait a while - you just ordered 18 double-cheeseburgers made 7 different ways. Chill lady. Often teenagers and "hard thuggin'" young adults would come through the drive thru and think they were hilarious by being disrespectful to the order taker. This, simply because of demographics of the crew in the stores I worked in, was generally a female employee who had a cheerful - and therefore young-sounding - voice. We as a management team ensured that every manager wore a headset and at least half-listened to the drive thru ordering process. More than once I cut in on some idiot being disrespectful to an employee and told them they weren't going to be served, please leave. Generally the kind of disrespect in these situations would be the order-taker misheard an item or the quantity of an item they wanted. The response in general would be something like, "No, you stupid (expletive) I said 4 double cheeseburgers, not 3." When they hear my remarkable baritone (I've been told many times I sound like a radio announcer and I've literally stopped traffic at a busy intersection in Chicago during winter when everyone had their windows rolled up by yelling "HEY!") on the microphone with, "I'm sorry Sir, but harassment of that nature is not tolerated at our business. I'm going to have to ask you to leave now and find another restaurant to do business with", they would usually apologize profusely and I would usually say, "OK, well if the order-taker accepts your apology and wants to do business with you, that's up to her. If not, you'll have to leave." Then, the order-taker had the chance to say, "OK, now let me repeat your order so far" or "No, that was disrespectful, please leave". This all occurs within the course of 20-30 seconds and is very business like. At that point, if they do not leave, I will pointedly explain, "I will call the police, and you will end up arrested for trespassing on private property if you don't leave now". That always did the trick and it really only happened maybe 10 times in the 2 years I worked for McDonald's. Except for once... This was several years ago, and I may have posted an iteration of this incident on my blog (tho a brief perusal cannot seem to find it). So this once, the customer got very angry that I refused to do business with him when he was being incredibly disrespectful to a 17 year old girl working the order-taker position. I'm not going to repeat it, but think of the skeezy stuff some random scumbag might spit out to a girl with a really pretty, young sounding voice when anonymity is virtually guaranteed. So I hop on, do my thing, but this time I do not offer him the chance to apologize, I simply tell him I'm not serving him. He whips out of the drive thru lane, and I go about my busy evening shift. There were probably 30 people in the restaurant either enjoying their purchases, waiting on their orders, or waiting to place an order. This tiny little, angry fellow with a shaved head - couldn't be more than 19 or so - comes storming into the doors with hellfire in his dark eyes and shouts, "Where's the (expletive) that just told me off in the drive thru?" and started walking behind our counter area. So let me explain. I'm 6'1", at the time about 250, and I wore my hair very high-and-tight, buzzcut style. I also didn't have glasses (like I do in my profile picture). I put my angry face on, stepped in front of him so he couldn't get behind our counter and lowered my voice a register while making it about 10 decibles louder. "I did. Are you the guy I just told I was going to call the police on?" He looked up at me (seriously, he couldn't have been but 5'5" and wearing some ridiculous "gangsta" outfit with pants buckled at the knees and a shirt big enough for me) and he just cocks his arm back like he's going to hit me. I heard a collective gasp from the crowd as he swung at me, stepped back out of the way of his swing, and palm-heel struck him in the chest with everything I had. The air went "Whuff!" out his chest, and he was on the ground before I finished a following through with the step. The customers all cheered and started laughing, he got up and stumbled out the restaurant. I followed him - not to fight him but to get his plate. I did end up reporting the whole situation to the police and *not a single person left*. Everyone - every single person there - wanted to tell the police what happened. He was arrested - wanted on several warrants it turned out - and was given a "letter of trespass" that basically said if he ever stepped on property of my franchisee again, he'd be arrested immediately. I was told I did an excellent and totally legal good deed. The owner/operator warned me that I shouldn't do that again, unless it was exactly a same situation where someone tried to hit me first and all I did was stop them. He was, I'm sure, worried what would have happened if I hit that guy a second time, or with a fist instead of my palm. Sorry for the digression, but that was a fun story to tell about an extremely disrespectful customer. More to the point, the same would happen if someone was very disrespectful at our front counter. Usually, I would explain that we didn't accept rudeness or tolerate harassment, and if the customer couldn't choose to be a decent, civil human being then I had the choice to refuse them service. "So, would you like a refund or will you be kind and then leave with your order?" They always looked appropriately ashamed (at least until the food was in their hand, at which point many would mutter, "I'm going to call corporate on you"). No one ever did.
I think that overall, because my McDonald's career was not early in my life (although I did work at McDonald's as a teen for 2 years), it was looked at a bit differently by future employers. The simple fact is, I went from the title of "Vice President of Sales" at a ~$5million/year private company to the title of "Assistant Manager" at a ~$200B/year massive corporation. How can you look down on that? Anyone who has actually worked for McDonald's and is not a negative person can see that it is indeed a remarkable opportunity on all levels. Most of the Owner/Operators started out at the bottom. Many of the folks at McDonald's Corporate were store managers before that. All store managers were once shift managers, who were also once standard crew members (even folks like myself, who were hired and paid as managers, because you cannot work as a manager at McDonald's without having the basic foundation of knowing all crew positions). While many people can look at it for what it is right now, and I do agree that McDonald's should be paying people much more per hour than they do - especially considering the type of profit and success those people are delivering upwards - it is still, for a motivated, intelligent, hardworking, diligent person an excellent career path, that can lead to success. As I mentioned in another answer, McDonald's management training is accredited. If I recall correctly, from the first level "Basic Shift Management" course through to the highest level regional management training course, one can acquire 20 credit hours. That's a pretty big deal for fast food, and much more accreditation than the 200 hours of professional development courses I spent prior to working at McDonald's. You might be able to tell, I'm verbose and part of that is also being able to spin things positively (I'm a pretty positive person, in general) so when employers saw "McDonald's" on my resume, they also saw that I could manage a location that saw 300-500 transactions a day and generated something on the order of $1.5M a year. They saw that I was able to manage inventory (my resume boasts of the change from ~30% over/under stocking on a weekly basis to under 5%, in one month), and I can describe very clearly how to develop skills in team members through coaching, training by demonstration, follow up and recognition. So in short, unless they were a complete idiot, any employer would regard a positive career at McDonald's as an absolute asset - they're getting thousands of dollars and scores of hours worth of the best training program the corporate world has to offer at their disposal for free.
Please see my answer to the other question regarding minimum wage and who is to blame for it.
Not really. Who am I to judge how an adult derives pleasure? However, as part of a teaming with McDonald's and the State of Arizona in 2008, there was an initiative to push more healthful choices - especially for children. The Owner/Operator embraced it entirely, our restaurants and our local government were all over it. So for kids, we sure did push healthful alternatives. I wrote a blog post about it when it was happening: http://mcdonalds-career.blogspot.com/2008/03/arizona-smart-choice.html Quite frankly, when I started working at McDonald's I was almost 350 lbs, with a 22" shirt neck. Within my first 9 months, on a serious diet of McDoubles, fruit and yogurt parfait, and the *real* exercise of running around for 8-10 hours a day, I had lost over 100 lbs and was down to a 16" shirt neck - being a large guy who used to lift weights competitively this was actually really slender for me. Having been a desk jockey for almost all the time since then, I'm back to 350lbs.
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The pink slime stuff is something that would happen in manufacturing the burgers. They arrive at the store frozen, in patty form. The boxes are labeled as "100% Beef" and per the USDA, they in fact are 100% beef. Also, McDonald's stopped using pink slime in March, 2012. Similarly, all other proteins except eggs come formed and frozen, ready to cook. In regards eggs, they were all fresh or in scrambled liquid form in cartons. In the course of a breakfast a McDonald's restaurant might go through 300-1,000 fresh eggs. They're cracked into round forms for McMuffins and other "round egg" sandwiches. The scrambled liquid is just that - pasteurized, homogenized scrambled eggs in a carton (you can buy similar products in any grocery store). They're used for the folded egg sandwiches like biscuit sandwiches, and all of the "platter" style breakfast items. They're eggs, and they're wholesome and delicious. All the buns are delivered fresh every few days from local bakeries willing and able to cook to McDonald's standards and volumes. They're from essentially the same type of factory bakeries that grocery store bread comes from. Similarly with the muffins, bagels and biscuits, although they are received frozen from centralized McDonald's distribution warehouses. Every morning, it's someone's job to slice dozens of tomatoes and store them in double-dish, breathable containers (something akin to a Tupperware, without the air seal). Lettuce comes in two or three forms - leaf iceberg lettuce, leaf "greens", and shredded iceberg lettuce. These all are delivered in boxes, within which there are either loose bags (for leafs) or heat-sealed bags (for shredded). Pickles come in massive 6-pound tubs that will last anywhere from half a day to two days, depending on the volume in the store. Onions come in two forms - sliced and diced. The sliced onions are just like the shredded lettuce - in heat-sealed bags in a box. The diced onions are quite strange... they arrive dehydrated in packets. Whoever does prep-work in the mornings has to hydrate these with water for 20 minutes before they're usable. All the condiments except ketchup and mustard come in large tubes that are distributed with measured-use guns - essentially a modified caulk gun. The ketchup and mustard arrives in large bags. They are dispensed from large guns which are emptied and cleaned daily. The "guns" are essentially a giant funnel with a trigger that lets a measured serving out with each press. All in all, while pink slime is gross, it's in all the ground beef products you can buy in a grocery store or (until McDonald's quit the practice) at a fast food restaurant. The thing is, while McDonald's stopped using pink slime in the first quarter of 2012, grocery stores have not. So basically, the ground beef you buy at the grocery store is the one that is less appealing. The chicken products and fish are exactly the same as you might find in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store - shredded, formed, breaded and ready to cook. All the breads are fresh baked and then either delivered fresh or frozen. The frozen breads (muffins, bagels, biscuits) are in fact baked in the store to completion - as are the pies, cinnamon rolls and danishes (if your local McDonald's carries these). The veg, other than the diced onions, are delicious, fresh, quality products - higher quality than you may find at a farmer's market and about the same quality at a typical chain grocery store because they're industrially grown, which results in higher uniformity and fewer blemishes. The condiments are equivalent quality of what you probably have in the fridge, and because such a volume of them is used they're probably much more fresh than what is in the fridge at home. One other thing - the fruit and yogurt parfait. These are made fresh every morning, by hand, with high quality yogurt and frozen fruit. They're delicious and super nutritious.
This I do not know first hand - the Tucson market did not have McRib while I worked there. However, if I were to take an educated guess it's marketing. People desire the unattainable. Frankly, I think the McRib is pretty gross - I'd prefer the Rib sandwich from am/pm (alas poor am/pm) if I wanted to hate myself for a while. However, because you cannot always get it, people get nostalgic about it when it's gone and really, really want it when it comes back. Here's a huffington post article about it that seems to agree somewhat: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/15/mcrib-seasonal-item_n_1966680.html
I think there are quite a few factors involved. First and foremost, I have nothing but disgust for any CEO who makes 100x+ what the average employee makes. I think it's a travesty of society and one of the prime woes of rampant capitalism. It's something that can easily be resolved, in a manner reminiscent of what the French did when their society faced similar woes. That being said, the employee does have the opportunity to take his skills elsewhere. While our economy is terrible and suffering, and any job is better than no job, there is also the simple fact that there actually are quite a few opportunities out there better than minimum wage that essentially anyone with the determination to try hard for can find. They may not be as relatively easy and comfortable as the job you've done for 20 years, but they exist and everyone can make a change. As for who is to blame for the very low wages of McDonald's employees and other corporate giants like Walmart, I think it's really a conglomerate responsibility between society as a whole, legislators, corporations, the franchisees, and the employees themselves. Society and legislature should demand and institute a minimum wage that is actually livable. $7.25 an hour isn't enough to live on, period. This is especially concerning where the executives make as much an hour as 1,000 or even 10,000 of their employees make in that same hour. This is simply ridiculous. Society (that's you and me) are also at fault here because we continually give our business, and therefore our support, to companies that are willing to do this. Also, we have an expectation for very cheap goods and services, and have as a group, agreed to accept the bald-faced lie that unless they pay the front-line employees a less-than-poverty wage, they cannot give us those goods and services for so cheap. There could be an easy shift in this. While it's unlikely that CEOs and other executives would willingly give up their massive payscales, if we as a society - taking concerned efforts and making it clear why we refuse to do business with those companies, even for a day - took a stand and demanded that they pay better wages to front-line employees while reducing compensation of the highest paid employees, then I believe that the change could be made. Franchisees do have the least amount of profit out of a franchise, and while I did answer the question about how much a franchisee might make out of a store as honestly as I could, there definitely are quite a few franchisees who, like all other small business owners, are barely making ends meet or are living on paychecks not much larger than their management staff. However, they too have a strong hand in what they pay employees and the benefits they offer - mostly they're just not willing to do so, because as I answered before, rampant capitalism. Not to mention the very slim profit margins they face. Most sales in most stores are based off the value or dollar menu. That 99 cent McDouble really does cost about $1.25 to make, but they're able to move them in quantity, and that 99 cent McDouble customer might buy a soda, which sells for $1 but costs only about 35 cents. If someone comes in for 10 McDoubles, their $10 transaction cost that franchisee $2.50, at least. I would like to think that the corporation as a whole and franchisees in general would be willing to pay more to have more motivated and capable staff members, the simple fact is I do not think they will do so until social and legislative obligations force them to. When businesses exist with the explicit intention to make as much profit as is as possible, they will do everything in their power to do so. The first and easiest method to do this is to simply pay as little as possible and invest as little as possible in benefits.
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