Staff tell us what it’s like working at the 24 hour Princes Street McDonald’s

It’s a zoo out there

It’s fair to say that there’s no more accurate a display of man’s true animalistic nature than the efforts of student weeknight warriors at McDonald’s in the wee hours of the morning.

From tantrums, to hurling food, to marking your territory, the brave Macca’s night-shifters of Princes Street have seen things that Sir David Attenborough could only dream of – and have lived to pass on the best bits.


Throwing things is a common theme throughout the animal kingdom, generally done with a reason. Primates throw shit to ward off competition, californian ground squirrels throw stones to distract predators, orcas throw dead prey around for fun. And, drunk students throw big macs at tired till workers six hours into their shift.

The only difference is, unlike the indisputable logic of animals, there’s no obvious rhyme or reason as to why the fuck you’d do this – is it because they feel threatened by the guy that just handed us our food, or want to threaten him? Or is it most probably because, like the orca, they're just grossly sadistic?

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Vaulting over the counter

Hungry students are, without doubt, the most impatient species on earth. And as much as I’m trying to take the side of the staff here, if you’ve been drinking since your society social started at 7pm, only to be dragged to a George St club awash with freshers, it’s hardly tricky to see why the hanger’s setting in by the time a *bouncer at McDonald’s* lines you up in a fenced off queue outside the door and tells you it’s one out one in. As a result, the odd tantrum is neither unexpected nor an issue as far as staff are concerned.

What is a bit of an issue, however, according to one staff member, is when you get the alpha male in a group of rugby lads, tweed jacket and all, so pissed off about the fact he's still waiting for his triple-steak-patty-whatever that he takes the leap and vaults over the counter to help himself.

In an excellent illustration of ‘monkey see, monkey do’, his gazelle-like example was not followed by one, but all seven of his pals, while watching him get escorted out in a headlock – presumably with that same ‘if we all do it they can’t get rid of all of us’ mentality that got half the year a detention that time in year 12. It should be pointed out that even after all that effort, none of them actually took anything, probably being so excited by the fact they all made it over they forgot why they were there.

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In the same vein as the rugby lads trying to proactively take matters into their own hands, only to not get their food and slow things down for everyone else involved in the process, there are the people who revolt even less effectively – by smashing things.

In a tantrum-fueled stampede less like a herd of wild horses and more like startled walruses (who, it turns out, do stampede, and it’s a real problem for Alaskan wildlife conservation resulting from climate change), according to staff, one night saw the front window smashed in by a skateboard, and everyone in the queue being sent home, which is not a risk you want to take when the only alternative at 4am in the whole of fucking Edinburgh is the Scotmid on Nicholson St.


Is it a form of more passive protest? Is it just plain insanity? Whatever causes the occasional punter to take a dump in or around Maccas – and it happens more often than you should be comfortable with – I don’t want to know and I don’t want to write about it either. Don’t shit where you eat is the first rule of the animal kingdom, and disregarding it is guaranteed to get you a Darwin Award one day – or at least a lifetime ban from McDonald’s.

It's not a far cry from following their primate cousins and throwing it around to scare us off, but to be fair it does a good enough job of that itself for that to probably be overkill.


Sort of like headless chickens that haven't worked out they're headless yet, the amount and severity of injuries that walk in to McDonald's this late at night with very little bother about it can make it look like a scene from The Walking Dead, only added to by a drunken stagger and a slur.

No girl is a stranger to coming home from a night out with a ridiculous amount of bruises and only a very hazy idea of how they got there, but when you’re dripping blood all over the counter at McDonald's and the server’s begging you to go to A&E because they’re pretty sure they can see the bone in your finger, some questions about your drinking habits demand to be asked. Or your priorities, if your response is ‘yeah yeah, I was just on my way’.

But at least you’re not gonna have to spend money on extra ketchup?

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A classic among drunk humans and wild beasts alike. In Macca's, they're exactly like kangaroo fights, and just as funny to watch; they come out of nowhere, often initiated by someone grabbing someone else by the neck, only ever involve small guys trying to show off, and normally end pretty quick with the bigger guy telling the little snappy ones to pipe down and bugger off. And yet, like with kangaroos, it's all but an enshrined, ritualised part of our culture (and they said you'd never learn anything interesting in a tab article).

But according to the staff, unlike in most other habitats, at 4am McDonald's they have to break up way more fights between girls than guys. But that makes sense – I'd fight a bitch over nugs in a heartbeat and I reckon most of us would.

What makes it even better, is that on particularly rowdy nights the staff blast classical music to get everyone to settle down. And coupling that with the fighting and the throwing things and kicking and screaming and injuries and shitting and people jumping over stuff, it all couldn't look more like an episode of Planet Earth 2 if it tried.

So cut your McDonald's servers some damn slack – there's only so many of them working and a lot of you all at once, and not in the best of states either, let's be honest. It's no wonder the council has decided to revoke their 24 hour license – now look what you've gone and done. As one woke Pollock fresher put it:

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