Confessions from an Ex-McDonalds Worker
I stood looking down at the girl next to me. Not a lot of people may know her, I certainly did not till last semester. We stood contemplating our options amidst the atmosphere buzzing with the quiet murmur of people. The sound of “Sugar” by Maroon 5 and the intermittent beep of the cashiers filled the air.
Aria Horvath is a fellow communications student who I only recently got to know while working on a film project in a class. We bonded over the many hours, blood, sweat and tears it took to bring our project to life. And so although I was already acquainted at a base level, I was here to find out more — to do an expose of sorts on who this girl really is.
Immediately, I was shocked to find out that she is already in her 3rd year of university at only 18 years old. She explains that it is not because she is child genius or anything, but rather simply because she was home-schooled. She decided she had enough of high school and began taking courses at Trinity gradually. She started out with just a class or two. She only recently began taking a full load of courses and is now in the groove of university.
It is important to mention that along with her age Aria stands at only 4’ 11 inches. “The odds were not in my favor”, she chuckles. Despite her age and small stature, this definitely is not a girl with something to prove. There is a set determination behind her steely dark brown eyes, and an air of maturity that she exudes.
The location although picked at initially by happenstance, was clearly the right place to be talking to a veteran of the establishment.
As we made our way to the order point, I was disappointed to see that they only had the breakfast menu up. With a knowing smile, Aria calmly glanced at her phone and said, “don’t worry they will change the display to the regular menu in 3,2,1..”. At exactly 11am just like she predicted, Egg McMuffins were transformed to Chicken McNuggets. It was then I knew that I was in the presence of someone who clearly knew their way around a McDonald’s.
After ordering an amount of food that could only be classified as a health hazard, I asked about her history with McDonald’s. “I spent 3 and half years of my life working at McDonald’s and honestly the most satisfying thing I did this year was finally quitting my job there”, she says.
It was not all bad she admits, quickly qualifying her statement. “McDonald’s has impacted me a lot- I have learned some of my greatest life lessons here”, she said. One of the main things I learned is that patience is key. “But some of the customers sure could test me”, she says. Aria continues, there was this one lady who I will never forget. The minute she spoke I knew I would have my hands full. She demanded a freshly made parfait stating that the ones in the fridge would make her sick. I obliged with a smile. She then proceeded to go back and forth between which type of chicken burger she wanted. The growing line of people behind her were giving me dirty looks. After several minutes, she decided she would just go with the parfait. As I turned to deliver the order she yelled out that she wanted it without blueberries. “I should add that what she had ordered minutes earlier was in fact a standard blueberry and strawberry parfait” Aria says. When I brought her the custom parfait I was happy to have passed that crisis mainly unscathed. My relief was short lived. She came bounding up to me only a few minutes later saying that her parfait was too cold. I mustered all the good cheer I could and asked “ Would you like me to heat that up for you?”
“Along the lines of patience, I also learned that sometimes it is better to take the high road and smile”, Aria says. I was nearing the end of a long shift and my final task was to clean up the floor in the seating area. “My legs were aching and the thought of my getting to kick my feet up and catch up on the latest Pretty Little Liars episode kept me going” she says. I had finished cleaning up most of area and headed to the last place to conquer. I heard a grunt behind me. I turned around to see a middle aged man looking at me in disgust. He sneered saying that I should not clean so close him. I apologized even though I was quite far from him and explained that I just had to clean up really quickly then I would be out of his way. The next thing that happened stopped me in my tracks. He threw down his entire meal on to the ground. He then said, if you want to clean so badly why don’t you clean that up. I went over to him looked him right in the eyes and began to sweep up the mess he had made. “In that moment I had a choice, I could get mad, snap at him or be rude but that is what he wanted”, she says. “The look of disbelief and embarrassment that was on his face when I finished cleaning his messed and smiled at him was the perfect ending to my day”, she says.
I looked down at my phone it was now 1pm. Aria and I had spent the last two hours talking and laughing. As we concluded, her eyes grew big. “Oh my gosh the health inspector that inspected us at my McDonalds is sitting right over there!”, she says. In a hushed voice she adds, “Its nice to relive these moments from the other side because I don’t care if he heard everything I just said”. At McDonalds, you get a lot of interesting people from all walks of life coming through, that is what made it so challenging. She says,“ Honestly, I am grateful for my time there. I learned a lot plus I have great stories that I can look back on and laugh at”.