Food Service Lacking Employees

A Failed Visit to Burger King

I had planned to write a full food review today. I was in the mood, figured I’d wander over to Burger King and try their Fiery Buffalo Nuggets and one of their many Whopper Jr. options, get a full article out of it. The Drive Through was long, a five car wait, so I popped into the restaurant to stand and order. I don’t mind doing this, I actually prefer it when I can, and it’s even better when they have one of those giant tablet kiosks so I can do all my ordering myself and don’t have to talk to anyone. I’m not a social person. Talking is not my forte. This Burger King, however, didn’t have tablet kiosks and, from what the woman running ordering said, there were only two people handling the whole place: her and the manager, and the manager was the line cook that night.

Burger King

It became a long thing where she said she needed to handle a couple of things and I wasn’t in a rush so I was fine waiting. But waiting for one order became waiting for five, and I stood there, not having placed an order, for fifteen minutes. Another dude came in and he was carrying bags, having gone through the drive through and getting the wrong order entirely from the woman at the window. Looking out into the parking lot, there were three other cars with people who were coming in, all because their orders were messed up as well. Something went horribly wrong at Burger King. Even the manager had to bail on the line and come out to deal with the issues. And he didn’t acknowledge our presence at all.

At this point no one had taken our order and we left, after twenty minutes of waiting. I mean, I don’t blame them (well, okay, I blame the manager a little since he’s apparently the store manager and ensuring the schedule is part of his responsibility) but it does seem like, more and more, fast food restaurants aren’t able to get and keep employees long enough that, on a weekday night, there is actually enough people in the building to handle orders and keep things running smoothly.

For the record, I went to Arby’s just down the road. They had three people on staff, barely anyone waiting, and we were in and out in five minutes. It’s fast food, that’s kind of how you expect it.

I’ve seen this happen a few times, where a place in town isn’t able to get the staff they need, and have to compromise service in some way. Sometimes they don’t have enough people and things get backed up. Other times the lack of staff forces those that are working to close the lobby and go drive through only (which is really annoying when I order my food ahead for pick up inside the lobby and then I have to go through the drive through anyway, which slows me down and gets under my skin). Again, it’s not the fault of the staff. It’s likely not even the fault of the manager running the place. It’s the fault of corporate, either the franchise owners or the big office themselves.

Someone somewhere up the chain has made the decision to cut costs. Likely they don’t want to pay what people actually need to survive. It’s been known for years that the minimum wage (for the United States is federally mandated at a minimum of $7.25) isn’t actually doing it’s job. The minimum wage is supposed to be the minimum amount someone needs to be able to live. Food, shelter, transport, cost of living. And the excuse isn’t, “well, they should work a second job.” That’s not what the minimum wage is for. You work forty hours at minimum wage you’re supposed to be able to live. Full stop. That’s the intention, but, of course, it hasn’t scaled up properly in years.

That’s why so many places are finding it hard to get employees. It’s not that “people don’t want to work” (which is the excuse that’s thrown around) it’s that they don’t want to work for shit pay. I’ve worked retail and food service and I can attest they aren’t easy jobs. I have an easier time at my cushy office job than people do working these minimum wage service jobs. They deserve to be paid better considering what they have to do, who they have to deal with, and the effort they put their body through every day. It’s taxing work. It deserves better pay.

Thing is, the minimum wage ($7.25, as I noted before) isn’t even enough to get you out of poverty. It literally keeps you, in the United States, right at the poverty line ($15,060). That, of course, doesn’t take into account taxes, medical (if you qualify) and a whole host of other expenses you have to account for just to live. That only nets you $1,160 a month which, in most places, isn’t even enough money to rent a shitty one-room apartment. Good luck living on that. Even places saying they’ll pay $12 bucks or so an hour aren’t really getting people enough money to live. Enough would be $15 minimum wage, $20 an hour for a bit of comfort (and to be able to actually afford taxes and everything else that comes with). That should be where we start hiring people.

Restaurant owners want to know where their employees are? Why they can’t find enough staff to run their businesses? Why no one wants to work for them? It’s because they’re paying shit pay and expecting people to like it. That’s awful.

Of course, while we’re at it, we should also get rid of required tipping and pay tipped-wage service workers normal pay as well. That whole function of society came from racism (seriously, no joke) and it’s an outdated system that only helps restaurant owners. All workers deserve real pay for their hours so they can have time to relax, and rest, and be happy human beings. That, instead of the screwed up rat race we seem to think is “normal” in modern society. It’s not normal and we need to stop thinking it is.

I mean, yes, if people get paid what they're worth that also means that when I go to Burger King I don't have to wait for twenty minutes to not get food. But that's besides the point. My case still stands.

Anyway, that’s enough of that for today. Since I wanted to review food, here’s a little treat for me (and you):

Arby’s Peach Lemonade

Just about every fast food joint at this point (outside of McDonald’s and Burger King) has a “homestyle” lemonade on their menu. I like lemonade, much preferring it to soda. And we’re talking real lemonade, which has actually seen a lemon before (and not the fake Minute Maid shit that McDonald’s serves). Going to Arby’s I saw their selection and among the three flavors (classic lemonade, strawberry, and peach) I was drawn to the Peach Lemonade. Lemonade is good, peaches are good, so why not both together?

Overall I liked the flavor of it. The peach is subtle when combined with the lemonade, letting you still taste the lemon without it being overpowered. I find strawberry lemonade can be overpowering, too much berry and not enough lemon, but the peach flavor worked really well. Fair warning, the pulpy syrup stuff they used for the drink did sink to the bottom, so I had to stir it a fair bit and drink from the middle, but it was good. I liked it well enough I might just get it again.

I dunno if it’s better than regular lemonade (which is nice and tart and delicious) but it was a cooling flavor option I enjoyed.