Fast Food Employees Reveal The Worst Work Experiences They’ve Had To Deal With
If you’ve never worked in the service industry or in the fast food industry in particular, then it would be hard to understand just how difficult some days can be. The old adage “The customer is always right” was clearly coined in a different era than our own.
Dealing with the public can be challenging at best and downright impossible at worst. Everyone who has worked in any job that involves dealing with the public at large on a regular basis has their fair share of horror stories. Add in low pay, long hours, management that isn’t always helpful, and you could be in for a long shift.
We went to the site AskReddit to ask the question, “What were some of the worst experiences you have had while working in the fast food industry?” From unreasonable customer demands to equipment malfunctions, these stories may make you want to thank the next drive through worker you see.
#25 That’s Rather Harsh
I was 16, working front line (cashier). A man walked up and, instead of ordering, he started talking about how his daughter was in vet school. I smile, nod, say something like, “that sounds nice.”
He then responds with, “Yes. She did something with her life, unlike you.”
#24 It’s Mine Now
Not fast food, but while I was working at a chain grocery store, a middle-aged woman was pushing her cart through the parking lot, when she lost control of it going downhill, and it slammed into someone’s car whilst they were in it.
She attempted to blame me, who had been a few feet away from her, for pushing her cart full of groceries into the car when the person went to confront her.
Luckily the person saw through her blaming it on me and proceeded to ask her again if the cart full of groceries were hers. When she repeated it wasn’t, he shrugged and said “Guess it’s no ones”, then proceeding to load all of the groceries from her cart, and putting it in his car, before leaving, all while she had to stand there and say nothing.
If that car owner was an idiot, it could’ve turned real different for me.
#23 That’s Commitment
I’ve had a customer come up to me in the middle of the mall (when I wasn’t working) and tell me about how I forgot his sauce for his burritos.
#22 A Smelly Mistake
I managed a breakfast joint for a while, beginning a few months after it originally opened.
We have a very large oven where we bake our bagels, and one day, after the bagels had been baked for the day, the baker left the door open to cool.
While I was up front, the restaurant and I could hear a deafening, “HOLY SMOKES” from the back where the oven was. I walk back laughing, expecting to see a proofing rack knocked over or some other stupid mistake. Instead, I’m hit with a geyser of jet black water from the sprinkler system above the oven.
Well, shouting resumed as we tried to cover what we could while waiting for the fire department to arrive. The fire department arrived and spent the next 2.5 hours looking for the shut off switch for our sprinkler.
Turns out the switch had been inadvertently covered/obstructed during our store’s construction.
I got to stay late that day and help clean every ounce of black, smelly water from our appliances and slicers. More than 3 hours of pressurized water in the kitchen. Ahhh.
#21 What A Jerk
I worked at McDonald’s part-time while I was in college. One day, I was working the drive-through, and this guy ordered a lot of drinks. One of them was low on soda syrup, but instead of just telling me about it like a rational person so I could give him a replacement drink, he threw the extra large drink at me. Of course, the lid came off and I was soaking wet.
The manager, who was actually pretty good as far as fast food managers go, saw this happen. He took off running into the parking lot, flagged down the driver before he could leave, and told him to never come back. Then he came back in, found me a dry uniform shirt, and let me have a few minutes on the clock to sit in the break room and calm down.
#20 Give A Hoot
I was working the drive-thru and gave the lady her food. Not 3 yards down the road from the window is a trash can and a sign that says “please do not litter”. You can probably guess what happened next. She throws her wrapper right in front of me and as she drives off I say “are you kidding me…”
Next thing I know I hear a screech of tires and hear a car door slam. She walks back to the window and starts to curse me out saying “what did you say, you throw your crap on the ground too don’t try to kid me.”
I just point to the sign and say “no I throw my trash in the trashcan like a normal human being, have a nice day” and shut and lock the window. Luckily my manager was pretty chill and didn’t care and I just went about the rest of my day.
#19 That’s Bad
Worked at McDonald’s as my first job at 15. The worst thing I probably saw was one of the guys working the fryer tripped and when he reached out to stop himself falling, he ended up with half of his hand in the fry oil.
#18 You Dodged A Bullet, Tom.
Not fast food but at a restaurant. I was the waiter for a nice, older couple and they ordered salads as an appetizer before their meal. After a couple minutes, the man calls me over and shows me the tip of a broken drill bit he bit into from his salad. Expecting a lawsuit, my heart skipped a beat and went into adrenaline mode as I quickly got the manager. Tom came over white-faced and apologized profusely while offering a few gift cards and comping (free) their meal. Shockingly, the couple didn’t threaten or get irate. They even tipped me well.
Found out later that Tom had been drilling near the prep line in the kitchen earlier in the day to fix something and saw the drill bit snap but couldn’t find the tip.
#17 Cookie Monster
Someone said “Give me some of those fresh baked cookies, I can smell you baking them!” when, first of all, we just reheat frozen ones, and secondly, we just put one in the microwave when a guest asks for one. When we told him this he started to yell then walked behind the counter to go check. I called my manager and he started to push around her to go check screaming, “I want my fresh cookies!!” He then tried to hit on one of our team members who were in the back, then took off his shirt and screamed when she asked him to go away. We had to escort him out after calling the police.
I was a waitress at a pizza place and an older man and woman flagged me over and they just start yelling at me going on and on that they found metal in their food. And she’s showing me and yelling and I am trying to apologize and saying, “We can make you a new pizza, I am sorry, I have no idea where it came from.” After several minutes of yelling the man gets quiet and he goes “oh, I lost a filling”. Then they tried to be all nice and laugh it off. I just wanted to say screw you for treating me like crap.
#15 That Got Uncomfortable Fast
I was a carhop at Sonic drive-in through most of high school. I was the only guy that was able to use the roller skates. An extremely creepy old man in a vehicle that might as well have been in a scrap yard called me back to his car after I started to go back inside. He gave me a $15 tip because “that butt needed a second look.”
#14 Not Going Anywhere
I had a rough looking guy in a beat-up truck try to use 1-year-old coupons. I refused to take them. That was a mistake. He held up the drive-thru and screamed and screamed at me. Stuff like “smarten up son, or you’re going nowhere in life”. It made me feel like pretty bad until I realized that someone like that who is screaming those things at a 15 year running a drive-thru did not go anywhere in life.
#13 Hot (Sauce) & Bothered
When I worked at Subway, this guy asked for siracha sauce on his sandwich. I put the regular amount on, then he asks for more. I put more on. He asks for more.
Eventually, he’s SCREAMING at me to put more siracha on the sandwich, to which I end up emptying out the entire bottle on it. He’s still not satisfied, so I have to get more.
One-half bottle of siracha later, he says it’s enough. I still remember him to this day.
#12 It Was Probably For The Best
I was working at a pub shortly after college. During the evenings, things would always get pretty stressful and hectic. People would be snapping at each other, or saying mean things, or arguing, or whatever. Pretty standard stuff in a high-stress situation like that.
One day, though, in the middle of dinner, the other cook (my immediate manager, but not the restaurant manager) apparently just had a bad night. He’d been getting progressively more agitated all night (not with me, luckily). Then, a waitress came back and complained that one of her tables was complaining because the food was cold. The manager responded by telling her that if she’d come get her orders when they were done, they wouldn’t be cold, but when she made some comment back, he snapped.
He picked up a hot pan from the stove, and I was terrified for a second that he was going to throw it at her. Instead, he swung it as hard as he could at the entire stack of clean plates and knocked almost all of them off the table, shattering them on the floor. Then he literally tore off his apron and stormed out, but not before knocking a tray of food out of another waitress’s hands.
Weirdly enough, the store manager was going to let him keep his job if he’d admit being out of line. She brought him in during lunch the next day to talk to him, but instead of apologizing, he smashed a coffee cup against the wall and left.
All told, it was probably for the best.
#11 Canadians Gone Wild
I worked at a popular Canadian coffee franchise almost ten years ago.
One day, a drive-thru customer had some sort of altercation with a pair of pedestrians who had been walking through the drive-thru. The way I understand it, the customer had almost hit the pedestrians – a man and his mother – and then had started shouting. This is what I heard over the drive-thru headset: “YOU WANNA FACE FULLA BICEP?!?! I’LL GIVE YA A FACE FULL OF BICEP!!”
I had a customer who requested a bagel “dripping in butter,” noting that she would “send it back if there’s not enough butter.” I buttered until the butter was soaking the paper. She sent it back, quite livid. I put a BURGER PATTY worth of butter on the bagel. She opened it again, inspected it, was clearly still not satisfied, and drove away angrily.
#10 Coffee Capers
I worked at Starbucks and a woman ordered her coffee at 140 degrees in the drive-thru. She walks back into the cafe after pulling out and complains that her coffee was 139 degrees because she has a thermometer in her car and she demands it to be remade. I laughed at her and asked if she was joking and she demanded to see my manager. My manager remade it but I didn’t get in any trouble. She was ridiculous but Starbucks’ policy is to remake anything if a customer asks for it.
Another time there was a long wait during rush hour in the morning and I apologized to a guy that it was taking a long time to get his white mocha to him. He glared at me and yelled, “You don’t really mean you’re sorry!” and refused to be cordial. He continued to look at me with disdain for the next few minutes. It made me super sad at the time because I really was sorry! Jerk. I learned not to be affected by mean people so much as I got older.
#9 He Really Wanted That Onion
I had an Indian man get mad because I wouldn’t sell him a whole onion, and he yelled “Terrible customer service,” “Stinks no onion” all while giving me the double finger salute. Actually, thinking about it, it might be my best experience.
#8 That’ll Be Six Minutes
I worked at Ikea in the restaurant, not the main one, but the smaller one at the end. I remember we sold out of pizza and the wait for the next one was six minutes. We had six people ask for pizza and we asked if they were fine with waiting, so we eventually sold out of the pizza that was still in the oven. Well, it’s finally ready, people are waiting, they already paid, and my coworker took it out of the oven as another coworker was calling his name from behind him. When he turned his head to see who called, the pizza slid off the peel and fell cheese side down, making a huge splat, the sauce went everywhere, and there was just a collective “AHHH” from the people who had ordered that pizza. At first, I was laughing because at least it wasn’t me, but then we had to process six refunds while the line piled up.
#7 Grease + Convertable Don’t Mix
I worked at Whataburger for a little over a year. One night, something on the roof broke, and none of the staff were aware that grease had been spraying like a fountain from the top of the restaurant for a while.
Until a guy came through the drive-thru in a convertible while this was happening. You can probably assume the rest.
#6 No Soup For You
While working at Panera Bread, this lady came up to the counter to order Broccoli and cheese soup and we were out. Upon hearing this she goes THEN WHY IS IT ON THE MENU, WHY IS IT ON THE MENU, WHY IS IT ON THE MENU, THIS IS GARBAGE, I CAME OUT MY HOUSE FOR THIS SOUP AND YALL THE ONLY PANERA WITHIN DRIVING DISTANCE FOR ME, WHY IS IT ON THE MENU. 16 year old me was the only person at the counter and when I started laughing the lady just got even more upset. Eventually, we had to call the cops and when she struck one officer I got to witness another officer flip her clean over a booth.
#5 Good Luck With That
I used to work evenings at a deli during my senior year of high school. Anyways, we had 4 REALLY big catering orders for that night so in addition to the 400+ sandwiches we make in a normal night, we had almost 1,200 extra among these 4 orders.
Sandwiches people ordered at the store had priority, then we would continue making catering sandwiches. These catering orders all came in at the same time so nobody had a single spare moment to clean anything in hours. We had the music cranked up. It was hard work but we were getting it done.
Anyway, we had just finished up the first catering order and started on the second when corporate dropped by for a surprise inspection. We immediately started getting yelled at for being lazy and not cleaning. Everyone on the sandwich line was drenched in sweat from working so hard at this point. The yelling continued and got worse and worse.
Finally, Trevor, one of the guys who had been working there for a few years, put down his knife, took off his apron, and said “Screw you. I’ve been working my butt off all night and you come in here and tell me I’m lazy and worthless? I don’t work here anymore. Good luck with the catering.”
After he left, all eyes were on me. The corporate jerks told me I needed to work harder because my coworker had abandoned me. I quit on the spot. The three people at the end of the sandwich line quit. The guy on the front register quit when he saw us all walking out.
The only person left on that shift was the manager who was working drive-through. I have no idea what happened to those catering orders. After the dust settled, the deli refused to issue our final checks. Trevor managed to track us all down and helped us through the process of filing a lost wage complaint. I don’t know what everyone else received, but I got triple my final check after the process was complete.
#4 Total Jerks
I was working at Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits. My best friend was working with me, and we had the same shifts because we carpooled since we were both 17 years old, and broke all of the time. The day in question happened to be a day when my regional and general manager were at our store.
As we closed up for the evening I realized my wallet was missing. There was only 5 dollars in it, but that 5 spot was dedicated to the empty gas tank we had to fill to make it the 15 miles back home. My friend and I searched everywhere to no avail.
Both my regional and general manager were outside waiting for us to close and just talking at one of their cars. When we finished up we went over to both of them and asked if we could borrow a couple dollars to get home. We had both been working there over a year and were exemplary employees, so we decided it wouldn’t be a big deal.
My regional manager said sure, reached into his pocket and threw a handful of change at me. Seconds later my general manager did the same thing at my friend. He and I bent over and started picking up the change as they watched and laughed.
It was one of the worst moments of my life. To this day I’ve never felt that kind of shame and embarrassment.
#3 No Sense In It
I worked at Starbucks and dropped two gallons of milk on the floor. I literally cried over spilled milk.
A coworker and I were once totally freaked out when this massive guy came in and started grabbing walnuts by the handful and eating them as is.
We don’t sell them shelled.
#1 Did You Even Hear Me?
I used to work at an independent theatre and we “served” coffee. We had this huge festival going on and we had forgotten to brew up our one pot of coffee for a few hours. So of course, ONE guy orders it and I tell him it’s going to be cold and gross and he says that’s fine. I felt bad so I didn’t even charge him for it. He comes back seconds later, slams it on the counter like I murdered his children and mutters “this isn’t even hot”. It’s like how in the world did you even get out of your house dude?