15 October 2007

The McDonalds Employee



Waves of people had taken over the food court section of the shopping mall; children running around, parents chattering, youth strolling through, and the odd individual walking by. The joy on the peoples faces stood out on this night, probably one of the busiest nights of the year.

At the queue piling up infront of McDonalds though, the peoples' faces said something else. Impatient to get their Big Macs and Chicken Nuggets, Quarter Pounders and Happy Meals, the avid McDonalds customers waited, some fussing, some complaining, some trying to cut the line, but all just angry at having to wait for their 'fast food'.

I stood in line with them, and watched the employee do his job as my turn got closer. Ernie, his name tag said (not to be confused with Bert's counterpart, of Sesame Street fame), an Asian male in his late twenties or early thirties, probably. He wasn't really smiling; between the multitude of orders he had to fulfil, the long lines of angry customers he had to serve, and the noise from a mall so busy on its peak night of the year, the customer standing at the front of the line was literally shouting at him for delaying his order. After all, this customer was standing here for over 30 seconds, and that surely is too much time to wait for food, right?

Finally served and on his way, next in line were three children, probably around 8 years old, dressed in their shiny Eid clothes, smiling and laughing, waving their money at Ernie and giggling out their incoherent order. Between the noise of the mall, the sizzling of the french fries in the background and the childrens giggles, I couldn't make out what they wanted to order. Ernie, on the other hand, seemed to understand perfectly; quick to react, take the money and give them their change, maneuver himself in a way to fill their drinks, call out their order, and start packing their happy meals all at the same time. I was impressed, actually. Within a few seconds their order was almost ready, pending the cheeseburgers from the kitchen, so he took the next order, which was mine.

I gave my order and watched him do his magic, create a meal with agility not gained through plain training or even routine. No, Ernie must have really thought this process through. Probably a product of going home every night, lying down in bed before he slept, thinking of how he did his job during the day, and perfecting the process in his mind. You see, Ernie here was an efficiency expert. He moved the line as quickly and smoothly as humanly possible, and if left to the average person, the line would probably be at the very least twice as long as it was now. He did this to make his job easier. He did this to satisfy his customers better and serve them faster. But most of all, he did this because it was his job, and he had a loyalty towards his job and wanted it to give it the best he could.

Think of yourself in his place, would you push yourself to do your best? Or would you sit back, relax and do what it takes to just get by and get your salary at month end? Think of yourself at your job now, do you really try to do your best for your entity, or do you just want to finish your time and go home?

I had just finished giving my order when the customer in line behind me started to snap; 'Hey, I want to order'. I turned around and looked at him with an eyebrow raised. 'Is there a problem? The guy's working as fast as he can, and the least you can do is appreciate that it's a busy night, and just wait. He's under enough pressure already.'

He put his head down, obviously thinking of what I had said, and felt a little ashamed for being unnecessarily selfish. Perhaps in a faster moving world none of us have the patience to wait in line, whether it's for fast food, at a queue in a bank, or anywhere else. Maybe we can stop letting out our frustrations on those same people who are helping serve us, and are doing their best to give us what we need to let us be on our way.

My order was ready, and it didn't take long at all. I gave him a sincere thank you; he didn't have the time to smile, but I knew he appreciated it, and took and fulfilled another order as I went on my way.
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21 comments:

capt.arab said...

I wish the big giants like McDonald's, KFC, Hardees, DQ and the others showed a little "more" appreciation to their staff at these times where their income boom is significantly attributed to the person behind the uniform, and his attitude to work.

i*maginate said...

Excellent post! :)

I appreciate people in whichever position and in any field who are passionate about their job. However, we all have out bad days and especially in a customer-facing job, this could have a downside!

Nevertheless as customers we should be able to differentiate whether that person looks like they are just having a bad day, or they are genuinely not happy in their job, or if they just simply couldn't give a toss.

More often than not, these people's jobs are quite stressful - it's not like an office job where you can hide behind your computer, it's a job where you're on show non-stop and have a people-facing role to play - nothing routine about that, I guess!

I think most of us are civil in the way we treat other human beings but it seems a lot can learn from the issues you highlight in the post ;)

Lastly, it is always worth noting that a customer-facing person should do their job as best as they can: one never knows who one is dealing with ;) For example, someone I was with when dealing with this one guy headhunted him later ;)

Anonymous said...

I work for the government. Every morning I sign in and go home to continue my sleep. What is this fancy word "efficiency" i keep hearing about every now and then...

maitham said...

he's 1 of kind ,,

many times i go to a fast food rest and i have to wait 10 minutes or more :p

coolioo said...

these days we are deeply in need of this trait potrayed by the employee

Rashdi said...

Something I've noticed we doing really measure the amount of time it takes for a transaction here in Bahrain, or at least thats what Ive seen.

I'm a management major (still in college) and a huge part of my expertise is dissecting a simple task and breaking it down into its various components and, finding some way to speed it up. If you look up a guy called William Edwards Deming hes the great grand daddy of efficiency and total quality management, its the foundation of what the Toyota corporation basis its constant improvement policy.

Oh well, i guess its just a pipe dream imagining that these kinds of practices would become commonplace in Bahrain.

N. said...

I'm sure if he isn't being appreciated and recognized by those that should, he is well beyond appreciated by others and that is more satisfactory (to a degree).

eshda3wa said...

i admire ernie, i would have flown off the handle at such pressure, i cant stand being ordered around, thats one thing i love about being a dentist, i always have the upper hand!

Dynamic Deeds said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dynamic Deeds said...

Aww...!!
I have to agree with eshda3wa, I admire Ernie, I wouldn't be able to take the pressure well. Given the fact that I sorta have a temper =D

Allah eykather min amthalek Ammaro :)

Reza said...

sometimes it's nice to bring a smile to these employee's faces considering at this time of year they're bound to lose their sanity

Navarus said...

Once I went to the McDonald's in Busaiteen near the cinema, there I found the first and only Bahraini I've ever seen working taking orders, actually enjoying his job.

He greeted customers, wished them an enjoyable meal and you could see people leave with a smile. And you could see it was all for real and not some act being put up!

Cat said...

GO east go west Ernie is the best :)

Joel said...

I believe fast food giants have incentives like "Best employer of the month", "fastest service of the month " and many more things. In fact they are placed just right across the counter.

It would really nice if every employee gets his appreciation(like capt.arab said), but well, he/she has to be the best among the rest.

Work is fun(when you know the ingredients!) :)

Woozie said...

I have never heard the words "job loyalty" mentioned in regards to a McDonald's cashier.

moon-light7 said...

yeah, those ppl always amaze me! they do their jobs with such professioncy. it's all about effeciency as you said.
u don't find them everywhere, but there's one or two somewhere every once in while, which is nice to see!
thanks 4 the post, it'll certainly make me more aware of the employees work next time i make an order:)

Shionge said...

Very very observant and appreciative customer Ammar I'm so proud of you...HUGS!!

LiB Team said...

This McDonald's was competent, I will talk about my experience with the worst branch of McDee's, the Sakhir Branch. I have branded them "The Dumbest Branch in Bahrain". Will write about it soon, real soon.

KJ said...

Over the holidays I have thought over many things and more specifically my job. All my complaints about its bullshit and stuff should not have been made, at least not to the extent I made them. True, the company and treatment is more horrible than what I conveyed in my posts, but in the end it is my attitude that affects how I perceive things and I should have been just slightly more considerate on my part to take initiative.

I don't know if it is too late in my company, but now reading about the McDonald's man, I think my attitude towards the job will have to take priority on my 3-phase ongoing makeover.

Semaj said...

Ah, yes, dealing with rude customers. I used to work in retail and we had the same type of people. It seems people only are truly rude when they’re waiting for food. I usually tell them I’ll get the manger whenever they start giving me lip.

BTW, your description of the French fries is making me want to go out get a box. Even though the fries aren't as good as they used to be...

Anonymous said...

If I were you I would come back and told the manager or wrote a nice short letter like you did on you site and give it to the person responsible. You have no Idea how these people are treated so I am sure your help or comments would really help this guy.