The people I worked with in McDonalds are the best I’ve ever met

Cheese on?

It’s mid July and the sun has gone down. At the back (corral) of a McDonald’s – it could be any McDonald’s – the burning ember of lit tobacco stands out in the dusk setting. Whoever was inhaling goes inside to finish off the dive, 30 seconds later a different face is illuminated by the light of the spliff. On a busy close only one crew member can go off the floor at one one time. They stub out the roach and return inside to detail clean a coffee machine.

What your hand looks like after you've done the dive

What your hand looks like after you’ve done the dive

In summer, working in McDonald’s is brutal. The temperature in the kitchen goes above 35 degrees and people start to call you a cunt a lot more. During the day people are angry you’ve taken more than five minutes to serve them a double cheeseburger with Big Mac sauce and no pickles. During the evening they’re angry because you’ve taken more than five minutes to serve them a double cheeseburger with Big Mac sauce and no pickles.

The working conditions are less than ideal and, by and large, your customers treat you like shit. But that’s okay because your colleagues are some of the best people you’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Honest, hard working and funny. Your fellow McDonald’s crew member makes your suffering that much better because they’ve been there before.

They were there when two people called in sick but you had a record day on till. They’ve been asked “do you have any A-levels?” and they’ve been subject to bare faced racism when a drunk father of two bit into a double only to find it had a pickle in it. He thought he asked for no pickles and extra Big Mac sauce, but he never did.



My colleagues at McDonalds worked from open until close (5.30am-1am) because the closers were short staffed. They burnt the skin off their knuckles pulling the fry vats. They stayed in the restaurant over night repainting the lobby because someone from head office was visiting the next day. They worked fucking hard.

On a busy day a crew member worth their salt can take more than 400 orders in two hours, handling more than £2,000 in a shift. That’s more than three orders a minute.

The catering industry has always been full of head cases – it’s no wonder the turnover of staff is so high. If you can’t hack it you don’t last long. That’s why McDonald’s staff are the best people I’ve ever met. The nine to fivers, coding algorithms for a tech company, think they have it bad but they don’t. They’re not regularly abused by their customers and they don’t have to resist the urge to crush their face between a two platen grill when a grill sticker comes through for a plain Ham after you’ve finished dressing eight crowns. They wouldn’t get past their probation.