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Mark Moore
11-11-2013, 06:17 AM
A character in one of my WIPs works in fast food as a cashier. While I work in retail, and I'm sure that there are some similarities, I'm looking for ways to make the fast-food work environment seem more authentic.

Where is the time clock located?

Does the cashier wear her entire uniform to work, or is there something that's kept at the restaurant that she puts on after arrival and takes off before she leaves?

Does the cashier hop on the register right away to get the line down, or are there things that need to be done first?

Does the cashier have to sign into a register with a user ID and password, or are they "universal"?

How is the order transmitted to the workers in the back? Does it go through the register, or does the cashier have to wear a headset and speak the order?

Are front-end cashiers called upon to perform other tasks (drive-thru, trash, etc.)?

Any common issues that come up and how they're handled (customer complaints, wrong food prepared, etc.)?

Any fun fast-food stories to share?

MDSchafer
11-11-2013, 07:15 AM
A character in one of my WIPs works in fast food as a cashier. While I work in retail, and I'm sure that there are some similarities, I'm looking for ways to make the fast-food work environment seem more authentic.

Where is the time clock located?

Does the cashier wear her entire uniform to work, or is there something that's kept at the restaurant that she puts on after arrival and takes off before she leaves?

Does the cashier hop on the register right away to get the line down, or are there things that need to be done first?

Does the cashier have to sign into a register with a user ID and password, or are they "universal"?

How is the order transmitted to the workers in the back? Does it go through the register, or does the cashier have to wear a headset and speak the order?

Are front-end cashiers called upon to perform other tasks (drive-thru, trash, etc.)?

Any common issues that come up and how they're handled (customer complaints, wrong food prepared, etc.)?

Any fun fast-food stories to share?

It's been a while since I worked in fast food, but I waited tables a long time, so I'll try to answer as as many as I can

Time clocks are on POS systems now, it's all computerized, although some stores might still have a physical crack.

Cooks leave aprons at work but u pretty much wear your uniform to and from work

Every FOH person logs in with their own number. Typically the FOH is interchangeable, you might have a position you end up in more than others but one shift you work the window, sometimes the front, other times you'll be the guy putting orders together.

There's an electronic system that once you punch it into the computer it pops on these monochromatic computer screens. Each order appears with a timer that will start flashing when the time gets too high. Sometimes it will start beeping if you go over a certain time.

Customer complaints... it varies. Basically you get your manager and your manager tries to make them happy.

So favorite stores? These are all from serving, in some decently high end restaurants in the south.

I had a woman ask me "What is mayo?" Once.

I've seen two women change their babies at the table, once was when I was working as Cheesecake Factory and the other was at one of the best restaurants in Atlanta. The woman at Cheesecake Factory left the dirty diaper on the table, the other woman had the sense to take it with her.

I remember once in high school I had some a couple come through the drive through, naked, aroused, and reeking of pot. We also had a kid dumb enough to check the oil by putting his finger in it.

Channy
11-11-2013, 07:20 AM
I worked at McDonalds and Tim Hortons for two blissful years. ;D I think I can answer your questions as good as the next fast food flunky.

Where is the time clock located?: Where workers sign in, right? It was located on any cash register. The POS (Point of Sale [System] but you work in retail so you probably know that) had a button for signing in and a separate for signing out. You then punched in your employer number and were done with it. I believe that it was precise to the minute signed in/out, so you could technically accrue overtime by staying every 15 mins or so.

Does the cashier wear her entire uniform to work, or is there something that's kept at the restaurant that she puts on after arrival and takes off before she leaves? I'm not sure how you mean? There's usually an employee lunch room with lockers for people to leave their stuff in while they worked. It was neither mandatory to walk through the store with your uniform on nor would you be reprimanded. But when you signed on for your shift, you needed to be in uniform.

Does the cashier hop on the register right away to get the line down, or are there things that need to be done first? Usually, yes. But more often than not, they need to report to the supervisor on shift to get them a cash drawer. They'll sign that employee on shift to that cash drawer, and then that employee needs to stay at that register as much as humanly possible. In extenuating circumstances if the lobby is packed, they'll just jump on a register and help out. But usually with the change of shift, the drawers get changed (for morning/afternoon/evening targets).

Does the cashier have to sign into a register with a user ID and password, or are they "universal"? Oh, derp. Read above, which summarizes both. The employee won't have access to the password or anything, the supervisor on shift will change people out and sign employees in and assign them to that register.

How is the order transmitted to the workers in the back? Does it go through the register, or does the cashier have to wear a headset and speak the order? The back has a screen that's divided into either 6 or 8, depending on how big. It then shows up with subsequent orders, as they're being punched into the register up front. Usually, if an item needs to be modified (no pickles, mustard, onions, blah), the employee presses a STOP button of sorts that brings up a red bar and shows to the production crew that something's going to be special. There's also a little printer which prints special orders that usually get taped to the wrapper/box to show which is which.

Are front-end cashiers called upon to perform other tasks (drive-thru, trash, etc.)? Front-end are usually given a list after the lunch rush to perform regular duties. Trash, condiment fillups, napkin dispensers, cups, trap wipe down, sweep, mop, etc.. there's LOTS but if you need more examples, just ask.

Rarely, front end are asked for drive-thru. Drive-thru crew are trained differently because they need to be faster. They need to coordinate their own drinks for multiple orders, bag their own orders (sometimes, during lunch/dinner rush, they'll have a runner who bags things and the drive-thru person at the window will just handle cash and drinks... in bigger McDonalds and sometimes other franchises, they'll have a booth halfway down the drive-thru lane where they process payment first).

Any common issues that come up and how they're handled (customer complaints, wrong food prepared, etc.)? "I need more napkins/ketchup/mayo/forks/some obtuse thing that I won't use all of!" "I didn't want pickles/mayo/mustard on this sandwich because I'm allergic/a picky bastard who wants to make a scene/feel entitled to something" "My food was cold (and I waited until I drove around the store, parked some place, took everything out, and then stormed back into the store and threw it at you, thus making it luke warm to justify this complaint just to get this food for free because 20$ is an obscene amount of money to pay for dinner)"

It all boils down to 'The Customer is Always Right'. Manager's will bend over backwards to make a customer happy, it doesn't matter what happens or how rude the customer is being. Because money is money and every upset customer that walks away is one that will tell 10 friends that such and such happened and to not go there (really, this is what Manager's tell their employees about word of mouth).

Well, that, and there are Mystery Shop companies that go through fast food joints and try stir up situations just to see how the facility handles it, and therefore, handles these everyday occurrences.

Any fun fast-food stories to share? I was working the Drive-Thru one day and there was this woman and her daughter who were trying to get free food from us. They were making this big scene that they got the wrong order last time they came through. I apologized, and they asked what I was going to do about it. I said I had no authority to do anything about it, but normally when we get complaints (people drive to the front of the store, come inside, or sometimes even call from home) we will take their information down in a binder and give them a free meal next time. This lady then proceeds to say she wants her meal for free.

I said there wasn't anything I could do at the moment (as our manager was out on a cash/change run) and so this woman then continued to berate me. The more she did, the more I reinforced that she needed to pay for her meal and that next time they can talk to a manager and request something. What she then decided was the solution, was to throw the money at me (change falling out the window, onto the drive-thru lane), and call from the car just as I was handing her the bag "You should lay off the cheeseburgers, honey" and cackled as she sped off. She didn't just say this to me, though, she shouted it because the rest of the staff behind the counter all just stopped in their place and stared as if to say, did that really just happen?

I went to the back supplies rollers and then cried like a little girl for about 15 minutes.

Ahh, memories...


ETA: Damn you MDS, I wittled away 30 minutes of my time for this gold! GOLD I TELLS YOU.

melindamusil
11-11-2013, 09:52 PM
I worked in a Fazoli's when I was in college.

Where is the time clock located?

There was a (small) office in the back, with the time clock and a computer and a little bit of desk space. New employees would have to watch instruction videos on that computer, as well as employees getting promoted (flunky to asst manager, asst manager to manager). That was also where the managers would take the cash drawers at the end of a shift to count the cash.

Does the cashier wear her entire uniform to work, or is there something that's kept at the restaurant that she puts on after arrival and takes off before she leaves?

At my restaurant, the "official" uniform consisted of a polo-type shirt and a hat with the restaurant logo. Those were given to us on our first day on the job. We were required to provide black pants and black shoes. We were also responsible for washing the uniform - so, yes, I would usually wear it to and from work.

Once in awhile, I might go somewhere on the way to work (or on the way home from work), and so would change in the car. (that office was the only place we were given to store things, like purses, and not real secure, so I'd change in the car so as not to take excess stuff inside.) Most of the girls would wear a tank top under the polo shirt, which made "changing" very easy. Also, after closing (while we were cleaning up), it sometimes got warm and so we'd strip to the tank top.

I can't remember where, but I remember reading that one restaurant was switching to require its employees to wear khakis and polos with a restaurant name tag. (That way they wouldn't have to pay for uniforms.)

Does the cashier hop on the register right away to get the line down, or are there things that need to be done first?

If your assistance was desperately needed in one area of the restaurant, then yes, you'd help. BUT there were "stations" in our restaurant, and you'd usually look up your assigned station (it was posted by the time clock) and go there. Cashier was responsible for the front cash register. Drive thru was responsible for drive thru. Cooks worked in the back making the food. Dining room was basically a hostess - cleaning tables, making sure the drink station was stocked with lids, silverware, etc., taking out trash.

If you were opening, there was quite a bit more that was done when you started. First, any cleaning that hadn't been done the night before (when they closed) needed done. (that was not too common.) Then you had start up all the cooking things and get food ready. You had to get salads out of the fridge. You had to put ice in the drink machines. Lots of other stuff - will update if I remember anything more.

Does the cashier have to sign into a register with a user ID and password, or are they "universal"?

I don't remember a password, but it seems like there must have been one.

How is the order transmitted to the workers in the back? Does it go through the register, or does the cashier have to wear a headset and speak the order?

The register was connected to a computer that displayed the orders on a monitor in the back. Once in a rare while, we'd have to holler something back to them (i.e. "don't make order #2943, that order was cancelled" or "on order #4037, she wants the sauce under the noodles") but 99% of requests could go through the computer. Only the really crazy ones had to be called back.

Are front-end cashiers called upon to perform other tasks (drive-thru, trash, etc.)?

Like I said before - we all had "stations", and generally we stuck to them. But if any one person/station got way behind, we would pitch in.

Any common issues that come up and how they're handled (customer complaints, wrong food prepared, etc.)?

We had a really good general manager, and I just remember he gave away the cookies like they were going out of style. You've got a problem? Here, have a free cookie! Your order was slow? Here, have a free cookie! You've got a three-year-old girl with cute smile? Here, have a free cookie!

Any fun fast-food stories to share?

I remember there were at least 3 illegal immigrants who worked at my restaurant. :) They were perfectly nice people and totally competent... just happened to be illegal.

I also remember lots of employees who were problematic. First, remember that when it comes to food service, you've got the health department involved - so any employee not willing to follow basic health protocols is a problem. There was more than one who was fired for that reason.

There was also one girl who just seemed... bitter. She was African-American and told us, to our faces, that we white folk owed her because of all the hardship she'd experienced. VERY lazy. On her second or third day at work, there was a rush, lots of people around, and someone made a comment to her that she needed to do her job. She flipped out and used a string of curse words that would make a sailor blush - in front of a bunch of customers. Including a child. She was fired on the spot.

I also remember another employee who was a student at the nearby high school. Nice kid. He worked hard and told us that he had this job so he could save up for college and med school. His goal was to find a cure for AIDS. I loved working with him.

We had a box of Milk-Bone dog biscuits under the drive-thru register, and if someone came through the drive-thru with a dog in the car, we'd offer him a dog biscuit.

shaldna
11-12-2013, 12:39 AM
Are front-end cashiers called upon to perform other tasks (drive-thru, trash, etc.)? Front-end are usually given a list after the lunch rush to perform regular duties. Trash, condiment fillups, napkin dispensers, cups, trap wipe down, sweep, mop, etc.. there's LOTS but if you need more examples, just ask.

Rarely, front end are asked for drive-thru. Drive-thru crew are trained differently because they need to be faster. They need to coordinate their own drinks for multiple orders, bag their own orders (sometimes, during lunch/dinner rush, they'll have a runner who bags things and the drive-thru person at the window will just handle cash and drinks... in bigger McDonalds and sometimes other franchises, they'll have a booth halfway down the drive-thru lane where they process payment first).

Our local McDonalds has three parts to the drive through - a tannoy where you order as you enter the drive through, then a window/booth where you pay, and a second window where you collect your food.

They also have a couple of bays marked 'grill parking' where, when it's really busy, and if you've ordered something off the menu that needs made fresh, or will take longer, then they will ask you to park up rather than sit in the drive through waiting and keeping everyone else back, and someone will bring your food over to you.

I love my local Micky D's and spend a rather obscene amount of time there. It's so clean and spacious and the staff are lovely. And I'm addicted to Big Macs and don't understand why they can't serve sausage McMuffins all day. :(




Any fun fast-food stories to share? I was working the Drive-Thru one day and there was this woman and her daughter who were trying to get free food from us. They were making this big scene that they got the wrong order last time they came through. I apologized, and they asked what I was going to do about it. I said I had no authority to do anything about it, but normally when we get complaints (people drive to the front of the store, come inside, or sometimes even call from home) we will take their information down in a binder and give them a free meal next time. This lady then proceeds to say she wants her meal for free.

I said there wasn't anything I could do at the moment (as our manager was out on a cash/change run) and so this woman then continued to berate me. The more she did, the more I reinforced that she needed to pay for her meal and that next time they can talk to a manager and request something. What she then decided was the solution, was to throw the money at me (change falling out the window, onto the drive-thru lane), and call from the car just as I was handing her the bag "You should lay off the cheeseburgers, honey" and cackled as she sped off. She didn't just say this to me, though, she shouted it because the rest of the staff behind the counter all just stopped in their place and stared as if to say, did that really just happen?

I went to the back supplies rollers and then cried like a little girl for about 15 minutes.


When I worked in the bar we would keep a record of those sort of people and refuse to serve them next time - strangely you always remember their faces.

Some people need to understand that just because you are serving them does not make you their servant.

Channy
11-12-2013, 04:41 AM
Our local McDonalds has three parts to the drive through - a tannoy where you order as you enter the drive through, then a window/booth where you pay, and a second window where you collect your food.

Yeah, the order/voice box thing is ahead of the pay booth, and generally you're talking to the person in that booth when you approach it. They punch in the order there and they ask you to pull up to the first window. That way, the person who hands them food, doesn't have to worry about bagging and talking, they just pour drinks and bag food.

It's kind of annoying though because as people are paying you, you're talking on your headset to the people behind them and the person paying doesn't realize that and they get confused and ask "No, I didn't order that?" And then everyone gets confused.


They also have a couple of bays marked 'grill parking' where, when it's really busy, and if you've ordered something off the menu that needs made fresh, or will take longer, then they will ask you to park up rather than sit in the drive through waiting and keeping everyone else back, and someone will bring your food over to you.

I love my local Micky D's and spend a rather obscene amount of time there. It's so clean and spacious and the staff are lovely. And I'm addicted to Big Macs and don't understand why they can't serve sausage McMuffins all day. :( Good point! I forgot to mention that. It's usually for expensive "premium chicken" sandwiches or Angus burgers which takes like 5-7 minutes to cook.

The gril time of everything is different. There's an actually toggle on the grills to switch from Breakfast to Afternoon because they get cooked at different temperatures and for different times, so trying to cook the regular burger patties and the sausage patties is just a nightmare. As it is, right at 11am (the cutoff for breakfast at my local) it's a mad rush to get rid of the remaining product but get the temps up for the new stuff.


When I worked in the bar we would keep a record of those sort of people and refuse to serve them next time - strangely you always remember their faces.

Some people need to understand that just because you are serving them does not make you their servant.Yeah when the manager on duty said, when they came back anywho, that if I recognized them and they came back, to just point them out and they'd tell 'em off. I had a good relationship with her though, over the owners, and she babied me a little bit. :D

melindamusil
11-12-2013, 06:43 AM
Something to clarify - many (most?) mcdonalds restaurants have at least two and sometimes three drive-thru windows. Pay at one window, collect food at another window. I'm sure other busy restaurants have a similar drive-thru setup. When I was at Fazolis, we had only ONE drive-thru window. When you worked drive-thru, you had to ring 'em up, take their money, bag their orders, and give 'em the food. It was pretty chaotic, but our drive thru was also not as busy as some.

Trebor1415
11-12-2013, 08:00 PM
I've worked for a "secret shopper" company so I learned a bit about fast food and industry practices even though I never actually worked at one.

There is some variation on procedures from chain to chain. In fact, that's one of the ways one chain differiantiates themselves from another. Most of those differences are involved more with how the food is prepared, but order taking and how the counter is run is part of that as well.

Are you planning on using a real fast food chain for your character? If so, the best thing would be to visit one in your area and just watch for awhile. You'll pick up a lot that way. If you get ambitious, go in when it's slow and ask to talk to the manager for a few minutes. Just explain that you are writing a character that works in their chain and ask how they'd punch in, what duties a counter person (or cook, whatever) would have, and if they show up in uniform or change there. I bet most managers would be happy to answer a few basic questions, (assuming they aren't in a rush).

At my local Wendy's I see the employees arrive for work in their uniforms and I see them punch in on the register up front. I see them go home, still in their uniforms, and see them punch out on the register. That tells me something right there.

At the Wendy's I very rarely see the same person take the order at the counter *and* take orders over the headset at the drive through. The few times I have seen that I assume they were short staffed.

As to funny stories, I have one from the other point of view. Our vet is right next to the local Taco Bell. We had a chroniclly ill cat who had to go to the vet two or three times a week. She was very mild mannered so after awhile I quit putting her in the cage and just let her ride in the passenger seat. If she was feeling poorly she'd nap, if she was feeling well she'd look out the window and sometimes put her front paws on the dash to look out the front.

A few times I swung through the Taco Bell drive through after finishing the vet appointment. Once I heard the girl at the counter say, "That guy has a cat in the car!" after she pulled back from the window.

A few days later I did the same thing, only the cat had moved over to my lap this time. She said, "The guy with the cat is back and the cat is driving!"

Rina Evans
11-12-2013, 08:42 PM
The McDonald's here has cashiers bringing food as well. So say, they'll take the order, yell to the cooks what they need, then go and grab drinks, fries, fill up food they have, make the flurries, coffee....

Is that done elsewhere?

shaldna
11-14-2013, 05:40 PM
The McDonald's here has cashiers bringing food as well. So say, they'll take the order, yell to the cooks what they need, then go and grab drinks, fries, fill up food they have, make the flurries, coffee....

Is that done elsewhere?


It's like that here too.

Also, in terms of the drive through - when it's really busy, like on a Saturday afternoon or something, then often you'll see staff on foot going along the drive through queue taking orders too, trying to speed things up a bit.

Little Anonymous Me
11-14-2013, 06:08 PM
Worked at a Hardees for two awful years.



Where is the time clock located?

Um, if you mean where you clock in, it's on the registers. If you mean a regular clock, we had several in the back.


Does the cashier wear her entire uniform to work, or is there something that's kept at the restaurant that she puts on after arrival and takes off before she leaves?Nope, you bring everything or risk being sent home.


Does the cashier hop on the register right away to get the line down, or are there things that need to be done first?You count your drawer. You never ever ever ring in without counting first. Nevaaaah. That's how you end up running short and getting fired.


Does the cashier have to sign into a register with a user ID and password, or are they "universal"?We signed in with our socials. Once a register is signed into, no one else is able to work off it unless it's swiping a card, since the cashier is legally responsible for the money in their drawer.


How is the order transmitted to the workers in the back? Does it go through the register, or does the cashier have to wear a headset and speak the order?There are screens that show the order and a speaker that plays it back to them.


Are front-end cashiers called upon to perform other tasks (drive-thru, trash, etc.)?Yes. Though drive thru takes a lot of experience since you have to do everything in four minutes or less.


Any common issues that come up and how they're handled (customer complaints, wrong food prepared, etc.)?There tends to be a rivalry between kitchen and front staff--any time a customer complains and wants a remake, they assume you rung it up wrong. And customers complain about everything. Too hot. Too cold. Too much onion. Why is there mayo? Why isn't there mayo? Why can't you make a Whopper like at BK? Can't you make a McFlurry? :Headbang:


Any fun fast-food stories to share?Well, one time when I was working drive, we had a woman pull up who complained there wasn't lettuce or tomato on the cheeseburger she'd just ordered. Note that I said cheeseburger. When I told her they didn't come with that, and that it was the number 8 and not 7 that did, there was dead silence followed shortly by 'You're stupid!' and the squeal of breaks.

And there was the time when I was pulling trash from the lobby and a guy came up to me wanting a different slice of tomato (his was green, honest mistake). I told him to go to the counter and someone'd help him. He stared at me, with my head in a trash can, and said "Why can't you do it?"

Then there was the woman who sat in my drive thru lane for over 8 minutes having a screaming argument with her renter/roommate and never ordered. My manager finally told her she needed to move and Crazy Woman proceeded to scream at us.

And there was the one guy who came through drive with roaches crawling on him. ROACHES. I was so glad I was on front that night.


Oh, yes: drive thru and kitchen can hear everything happening in your car. Everything. Some people need to keep this in mind...teenagers especially.

Little Anonymous Me
11-14-2013, 06:20 PM
The McDonald's here has cashiers bringing food as well. So say, they'll take the order, yell to the cooks what they need, then go and grab drinks, fries, fill up food they have, make the flurries, coffee....

Is that done elsewhere?


I had to do that. A few lovely people tipped me, since I was essentially a waitress in that respect. Most of the people were less lovely, sadly.

beckethm
11-14-2013, 09:11 PM
For a slightly different take, I worked at a Subway for a year in college. Much of what the other posters have said about the mechanics of the job held true there as well, except that we didn't have the front of house / back of house distinction, since all food was made in front, on the line.

During rush hours, there were usually 5-6 people on the line, one to take orders, three to assemble sandwiches, one at the register, and one or two floaters who refilled the food bins, kept the dining room clean, and generally did whatever else needed to be done.

I worked closing shift, 6 pm to 2 am, and from about 8 o'clock onwards there were only two of us on duty. Lots of downtime, so we'd have to prep food for the next day and perform various cleaning tasks.

LAM made the point about being responsible for a cash drawer. In the restaurant where I worked, there was only one register, so no individual was responsible for it, but the shift supervisor had to reconcile it at the end of the night and could get in trouble if it was short. We had to do cash drops at prescribed intervals, moving money from the register to a safe in back.

Food inventory was also strictly controlled. Just as you could get in trouble for the register coming up short, staff would be reprimanded if bread count or meat count didn't match what the POS system said we should have.

On uniforms -- our uniform was a polo shirt. IIRC, you got two when you started and had to pay for replacements. Within a couple weeks, all my uniform shirts were permanently stained with mayo, oil, etc. And the smell of mayo just clings to you. I'd have to shower as soon as I got home from work every night. Can't imagine how much worse it must be to work a grill or a fryer.

My restaurant would give free food to cops on duty, and we had regulars who came in every night. I think other chains in the area must have done the same, because I sometimes saw our regulars in other restaurants after hours.

We were open for about an hour after bars closed in my city, so usually the last 45 minutes of the night we had a post-bar rush of drunken college students. Sometimes it was fun, more often it was just a pain. Especially when we had to clean the bathrooms. I've cleaned just about every bodily fluid you can imagine.

I can't remember any specific stories, unfortunately, but thought I would offer those tidbits, FWIW.

Storm Surge
11-15-2013, 11:23 PM
It all boils down to 'The Customer is Always Right'. Manager's will bend over backwards to make a customer happy, it doesn't matter what happens or how rude the customer is being. Because money is money and every upset customer that walks away is one that will tell 10 friends that such and such happened and to not go there (really, this is what Manager's tell their employees about word of mouth).

This is my experience as well. With the exception of the time when I was taking orders in drive thru and could not hear what the woman was saying to save my life. She a thick accent and screaming kids in the back. The second time I asked her to please repeat something she screamed, "Can I get someone who can f***ing hear?" The manager on duty at the time went straight out the back door and told her that we didn't need her business.

Granted, the manager was also my sister... :D


Where is the time clock located?

At the store I worked at (McDonald's), it was accessible from every register but a manager had to clock you in.


Does the cashier wear her entire uniform to work, or is there something that's kept at the restaurant that she puts on after arrival and takes off before she leaves?

We had to be in full uniform and bring our apron (if working in the grill) upon arriving at work. Now when I started this meant black slacks, polo shirt. But then the owner build a gussied up new store and changed the uniform from the polo to a weird brown, strange synthetic button up with a puffy tie that everyone, even the grill people had to wear.The tie was horrible and caught things and got instantly covered in grease in the grill. The grill crew, after a couple months, stopped wearing them until the owner noticed and threw a fit.


Does the cashier hop on the register right away to get the line down, or are there things that need to be done first?

Does the cashier have to sign into a register with a user ID and password, or are they "universal"?

Usually, a manager would say "take that register" or "I'll get you a drawer." Didn't have to sign into the register. This was the only place I've ever worked (and handled money that is) that they didn't insist that you count your drawer. Before or after. The managers did that and had a secret stash of money in the back from drawers that were over to fix ones that were under.


Are front-end cashiers called upon to perform other tasks (drive-thru, trash, etc.)?

When I was on front line, I got assigned to lobby duty a couple times. This was keeping everything neat and clean: the floor, the tables, the condiment bar, the drink machine, take out the trash, etc. The trash cans were remarkably vile. I don't think I'll ever be able to forget the smell of rotting ketchup. :(

ETA: I almost forgot:


Any fun fast-food stories to share?

The store had a real problem with theft. And it was almost always the night shift people who did it. So at one point, management decided to put a padlock on the walk-in. All the time. I discovered this one morning in the middle of a breakfast rush (I was working in the grill at the time) when we ran out of steak for steak bagels. I ran back to to the walk-in, discovered it locked, and went straight for the MOD. She was in the office doing something on the computer. "I'll be there in a minute." So I waited. She did nothing. Someone up front hollered back about the two steak bagels they were supposed to have already and I yelled up, "They're not coming. I can't make them."

The manager jumped up like she'd been stung and locked the walk-in. She said, "Don't scare me like that."

Gena_Skyler
11-15-2013, 11:47 PM
I think everyone has mostly touched on your answers, but I would like to add that the crazy funny stories aren't always in interactions with the customers either.

There are things like cleaning the bathrooms: We used to play Rock Paper Scissors for that. Especially if there was a complaint of some kind.

There can be a buttload of drama from the staff, especially since there are usually a lot of teenagers employed. Boyfriends/Girlfriends coming to visit.

My favourites used to be the assholes who would leave you a "tip" at their table. So you would go around bussing tables and find ketchup/gravy encrusted coins sitting on the table top. Usually they were pennies.

Also, someone mentioned a kind of conflict between front end and back end staff, well, the same existed between night and day shift folk. Usually the day shifters were the adults working full time. Normally it would be women working to help pay the bills. In the evenings it would be the teenagers. Sometimes everyone got on, usually not. There would be issues with stocking up items from the night shift into the day shift and vice versa. Also, if night shift staff was late, day shift staff would be grumpy.

Working drive thru my most common complaint, though perhaps it is a localized thing, would be the big ass diesel trucks pulling up the intercom. They would not turn their vehicles off and you would have to try to hear what the hell they were saying over the sound of their engines. Or the mothers telling their kids to shut up b/c they were trying to order.

Oh... fun times.

Channy
11-16-2013, 05:10 AM
Working drive thru my most common complaint, though perhaps it is a localized thing, would be the big ass diesel trucks pulling up the intercom. They would not turn their vehicles off and you would have to try to hear what the hell they were saying over the sound of their engines. Or the mothers telling their kids to shut up b/c they were trying to order.

Urgh, yeah that was always the worst. Screaming children, usually not a problem because the mom always has to tell them off, but you can't handle not hearing over a truck. To get them to turn it off, we'd usually just keep asking "What? Sorry? Large -insert incorrect item?-" Eventually they got the message. And the managers were usually with us in regards to that.

I remember one time though a woman with her kids came through the drive through. The kids were faily quiet actually, asking questions and saying "I want that" but not abnormally loud... when we turned off the com after taking their order, the woman just started screaming at the kids "Are you f**king happy now? I got you your f**king happy meals so you better behave."

People don't realize that we can hear as soon as they approach the booth because the cement beneath is motion/weight sensitive when a vehicle is on it. And if drive thru is packed and they can't move, then the com stays on on their end, but we turn off the button to talk on our end.. so if they stay, you always hear people's conversations. This is a pretty universal thing with drive thru lanes and it's ALWAYS hilarious. :D

Gena_Skyler
11-16-2013, 06:39 AM
Oh man, Channy! That makes for a good laugh! Maybe because sometimes my kids pipe up when I'm ordering at drive thru and I know the person can hear me. I hold my hand in their face to get them to be quiet so I don't sound like this raging maniac over the intercom!

Mark Moore
11-18-2013, 12:09 AM
Thanks, everyone! A lot of helpful stuff! The stories are pretty funny, too. :)

I'm creating a fictional burger chain for this story. It has a reputation for serving very greasy, unhealthy food - kind of the Peter Piper Pizza (http://spoonyexperiment.com/2011/10/24/counter-monkey-the-toilet-pizza/) of burger chains.