What I Learned from Four Years Working at McDonalds
Kate Norquay

Just wanted to share an experience I had that highlights that the attitude that these types of jobs are for marginalized people only can be even more damaging because those very people can buy into it themselves.

Years ago I started working at an extended stay hotel and when they hired me they told me they only had part-time front desk work available but I could supplement it by working in the kitchen in the morning and get closer to 40 hrs/week.

The hotel offered just barely above a continental breakfast — scrambled eggs (out of a carton) in steamer trays, bacon, pastries, cereal, that sort of thing. Sounds simple, but doing that kind of breakfast every morning takes a lot of work, especially when your shift starts at 5:00am and includes dishes, cleaning, prep, inventory, and everything else that goes along with it.

I hated it, and I wasn’t very good at it. The women I worked with were Eastern European immigrants that didn’t speak great English. They also worked their asses off and were both ten times the employee I was.

After one particularly difficult service where parents found it totally acceptable to let their small children throw their fruit loops all over the carpet, I was washing old eggs out of a steamer tray and was doing a bad job of hiding my misery.

One of my coworkers looked at me and said, “Why are you here? You don’t belong here. You’re too smart.” And in my head I agreed with her.

Soon after I quit working in the kitchen and they let me have more front desk hours. I didn’t deserve it, but I got them because I am a white, English-speaking man and the women in the kitchen were not. I also suspect that since I was able to keep my front desk pay while working in the kitchen that I made more than them, and that is a damn crime.