Former fast food employees tell us what not to eat and also give hints on how to get free food
As a nation we each spend an average of £25-30 per week on fast food, it’s big business.
But most of us won’t have the experience of working in a fast food chain, meaning most of us won’t see what goes on behind the counter.
We spoke to a number of current and former fast food workers to get their advice on what to eat, what NOT to eat, and even how to get free food.
(These are people’s personal experiences in individual franchises and they have not suggested that the practices were widespread or sanctioned by management).
“It’s easy to get free food”
“If you complain about food then getting replacements is very very easy, even if you have eaten most of it.
“We did have one guy skip the drive-through queue straight to window three and collect the car behind him’s order!
“You could phone up and complain about a drive-through order, and they would write you down for a free meal or however many meals you ordered, no proof necessary. The food costs them so little to make, they don’t need to argue.”
“Don’t take anything that’s been sitting on the hot tray”
“It’s all based on a time card system, the food should stay in the production bin (the hot shelf) for something like 20 mins, but it tends to stay there until it’s sold.
“For most things that’s not a problem but late at night that can be pretty bad.”
Another former fast food worker echoes this sentiment…
“DON’T order anything that they have ready and waiting”
“They do throw out stuff that has been there a while, though it’s usually quite limp and horrid long before that.”
“There are plenty better places offering a barista service than fast food chains”
“The milk sachets for your cups of coffee could have been left out for quite a while, as these are kinda hidden from view, so are often overlooked.”
“Don’t order fries at burger chains – as tasty as they are”
“The main fry-station for fries could be pretty nasty – pretty sure I saw that get cleaned like once a week tops (the station where they scoop the fries out of), and the underside of it is caked in weeks old grime build up.”
“Don’t order pizza between 6pm and 8pm”
“You roll a bit of a dice if you order pizza between 6 and 8, if it’s super busy and someone drops any of the metal pizza trays on the floor, there’s no time for someone to go round back and wash it, so they’ll just stick it through the oven with the pizzas.
“Grit’s not really the most enjoyable of toppings…”
“Don’t order the fish…”
“Fish burgers were cooked and kept hot in the kitchen. The fillets were not very popular so would sometimes stay there for ages. That’s the one thing I would never order.”
1. When I was working the drive thru at Popeyes, we would always tend to get this one couple who would come by. Sure, we had plenty of regulars, but every employee knew of the Human Tables. There was always the four of them, the dad, mom, sister, and brother, and they always rolled up to the window with AT LEAST 3 big bags of food from other fast food places. Not bags of trash, but bags of uneaten food. We would call them the Human Tables because they all had their seats all the way back and would use their stomachs as tables. The smell was pretty horrid as well. I mean, imagine a family that eats 4 big ass bags of fast food from multiple fast food joints for every meal. Pure terror I tell you.
Or there was this one time when an 80-year-old woman was hopped up on meth or something and decided that you should be naked for a “better Popeyes experience.” So many wrinkles. So many.
2. Working at McDonalds at 3am on a Sunday morning, I handed out food to a very nice gentleman. He must have been very nice because the guy in the passenger seat was giving him head, and he (the passenger) looked up and smiled at me as I handed them the drinks, which meant I got to see the driver in all his glory. He had no pants on at all from what I could see, so this seemed premeditated, which was the worst part of the experience. Ah, that was a wonderful place to work.
3. At McDonald’s, a car full of naked people drove up and ordered food, with paper bags on their heads. I believe one of them referred to another as ‘Mom’.
4. It’s not really too disgusting but I felt it should be shared. I was working the window at Tim hortons and one man ordered six small ice capps. When he came to the window I saw he had several children with him, all of different races. Then he leaned in to me and said, “Yep! I’ve got one of every kind! Black, Asian, Mexican, and way in the back there, I’ve even got a Jew!”
5. I work in a tire installation shop. I’ve been there for 7 months and I already have everyone beat. 4 used tampons tied together, hanging from the woman’s rear view mirror. What made it really unsettling was that the woman was fucking gorgeous.
6. Working the McDonalds drive through at 11 am on a Sunday morning. A lady orders a Mcflurry (half M&M, half Oreo). Comes up to the first window where I am. Says hello and gives me her card to swipe. Completely ignores the fact that there is a crying teenage girl curled up in the fetal position in the passengers seat wearing nothing but a bra and panties.
Also there was this lady that had so much stuff in her old box style minivan passenger seat that it was almost formed to the shape that half of her body took when she sat in the car.
7. I worked at Sonic as a carhop in high school. I don’t know if there’s Sonic up north, I’m from South Oklahoma, but it’s basically a drive in, you press a button, order, and your food is brought out to you.
Well, as employees, when we were bored, we would sometimes tune into the different boxes and just listen, usually get the radio, or conversations, nothing really interesting, usually. Well this night, we saw a car in the back of the lot who hadn’t ordered yet. So, naturally, we tuned in. It was quiet at first, then we heard a few grunting noises and realized “They’re having sex in our parking lot!” So we drew straws and decided I was the one who would bring the “Happy tray” out (basically a tray with condiments on it that you go car to car with).
It’s pitch black out, our lot isn’t very well lit, I get out there, peer in the shaking car and very innocently say “Would y’all like a mint?” (all the while I know my coworkers are listening in)
The car stops shaking, I see a shadow of a face look at me and say, “Back in my day, if a car was rockin, we stayed the fuck away.” I heard several giggles from the back as he flipped on an interior light. There were three women in the back pushing 80, no joke, and this stallion of a man was at least 90-years-old. I can never unsee that.
tl;dr: At sonic witnessed a 4 way with 3 80-year-old women.
8. While working at Arby’s this car FILLED with trash came up to the window….when he handed me the money I got a whiff of a putrid odor coming from the car, the guy was obviously homeless and lived in the car. As he pulled away I saw 3-4 six gallon buckets filled with urine and feces swishing around in the back seat.
9. A pregnant girl was tweezing out hair from her belly. I was definitely not expecting to see that.
10. My worst story wasn’t something I saw but what I heard. I was taking orders at the drive through one evening. A man is doing the ordering and I can hear his wife in the background giving directions on what she wants, nothing unusual. Out of no where he screams, “How many fucking times do I have to tell you, I don’t give a fuck what you want!” Then their is a couple loud slaps and complete silence on both ends. They pull around and she has her head down, not sure if she was crying or unconscious. My manager had a headset on and came back a few minutes later and asked me if its what he thought it was and it was.
11. I watched the gradual decline of a customer’s car through drive thru other a couple of months. To start with he had trouble rolling down the windows of the rust bucket. That’s not too bad… Little while later, the window is completely fucked. It’s duct taped shut and he has to open the car door to hand over the money. Eventually he was standing on his seat and leaning out of the sunroof to get his food. I was surprised that piece of shit could even start – it was completely held together with brown paper and duct tape.
He was always well dressed and that though, seemed like he had money. It was just the car.
12. I worked at Taco Bell once upon a time. It was about mid-afternoon, and it was hot as hell outside.
One of our registers was down, so I was taking the payment and giving the food out at the same window. A lady pulls up to my window and I tell her the total. I don’t remember exactly how much it was, but it was probably around seven or eight dollars and some change.
She was very large and sweating heavily, she looked dirty, but luckily I couldn’t smell her. First she pulls a couple bills out of her bra and hands them to me, they were moist but it wasn’t something I had never had happen. She then reaches deep down under her boob and literally pulls out a hand full of change. FULL! I looked at her, I looked at her boob change and I said, “It’s okay, you’re close enough without the change.” I handed her the food and she went on her way, but man there was no way I was touching that!
All I could see in my mind was that episode of Spongebob where Bubbles Bass hides the pickles from his Krabby Patty under his tongue, except it was coins on the underside of a sweaty fat lady’s boob. Ew.
13. Not a drive-thru, but similar. I worked as a cart clerk at a grocery store in a rural town and saw some disgusting stuff.
There was this massive guy who probably weighed 300+ pounds who was sitting at the end of the checkout lanes and shit himself. Some of it fell out of his pant leg onto the ground and sat there for 20 minutes until the janitor showed up. No idea where the guy disappeared to, but it wasn’t to the washroom.
There was also a regular who was probably 400+ pounds and was so heavy that he had to lean backwards and do a fast walk to keep his momentum up in order to stay standing until he got to the electric carts. He would drive around and leave stink trails all across the store.
14. While working at my first job, McDonald’s: greasy, unshaven man who was missing teeth pulls up in your stereotypical sketchy white van. Hanging from his rearview mirror are 3 or 4 pairs of little girls’ underwear.
15. Disgustingly fat black woman in a very short dress wearing no underwear being fingered by old black dude. She is on her back and her disgusting cooch is visible being fingered as you look out the drive window. Nearly puked.
16. While working as a minimum wage slave at McDonalds. I was the drive through window guy just passing out the food. Well, one night this couple pulled in and was waiting on their fries. We had to make a new batch so I told him he could wait for a while because it was unusually slow that night. During this time the guy proceeds to whip out his dick and get a blow job all the while his other half pleasured herself while they waited and this continued as I handed them their fries.
17. I was going on 47 hours plus without sleep (don’t ask, it was a bet), it was just before closing, and I was working back cash.
This couple pulls up and places their order, I think it was a Big Mac combo and something else. I only remember the Big Mac because it comes into play later. I take the order, given them their total and ask them to pull up to the window.
Here they come, in a truck I swear was more rust than metal. The guy, who’s driving, rolls down his window as he’s fumbling around with his wallet, counting out the money. It seemed like it took at least five minutes for him to count out five one dollar bills. Did I mention they looked like the most hillbilly, redneck people on the face of the planet?
Okay, so he hands me five one dollar bills. I repeat the total to him, which is a few dollars more than what he handed me.
“Ahh shit, lemme look around and see if I can find some more money,” he says. Proceeds to dig in the seat, ask his female companion, shit you not, look in the bed of the truck, but alas, he can’t come up with the money. All this time, I’m waiting, trying to figure out if this is a dream, or a hallucination.
“Ah man, I don’t have no more money. Maybe we could come up with a trade,” he says. I tell him nope, it has to be cash.
“Yer sure it has to be cash?” I repeat that yes, it has to be cash.
“Well, my lady friend here gives the best blowjobs in the world, and I’m sure she would oblige and give you the best hummer in the world, if you would just let us have the Big Mac,” he says. At this point, the lady smiles at me from the truck, and I shit you not, there was only three teeth in her head.
I mentally shudder, and repeat that I need the cash, or we can’t give them the food, all the while trying to avoid looking at either of them, for fear I might puke spontaneously.
“Yer sure about the blowjob son,” he says. I tell him I’m fine without it. He shrugs, looks at his lady friend and says, “Guess we won’t be eatin’ McDonald’s tonite hon.” Puts the truck in gear and drives off, leaving me to wonder again if this was a fucked up dream, or reality.
19. This isn’t fast food establishment, but a drive thru at a local convience store. I saw a man with one of those blue drinking fountain jugs HALF filled with snuff spit. I inquired about it and he told me he attempted to ‘recycle’ on the days he couldn’t buy a whole can.
20. Working night shift in a McDonalds equivalent, 2am ish, there’s a huge line to the drive through. Up comes a car with a middle aged gentleman and an older woman. Nothing special here, should be an easy customer… or so I thought. Upon a closer look the old lady is tripping balls with some kind of greenish goo oozing out of her mouth. The man himself has a contact lense with a star printed on it. Kind of strange but hey, it’s late saturday, right?
Well this is where it gets interesting. Instead of your standard late night order this guy goes ahead and orders twenty nine (29) hamburgers, no fries, no drinks. Now this is somewhat unordinary but nothing we can’t handle. Such order takes a while to do and this guy starts talking (the older lady, who turned out to be his mother, still on another astral plane) about how he’s a psychic and can tell the future. He goes on a rant how everythings going to shit and we’re all gonna die and other standard crazy person talk. At one point he asks my co-worker if she’s thought about name yet. We think nothing of this and once his order is finished he leaves without a fuss.
An hour goes by and the same car comes around. Maybe he’s still hungry after those 29 burgers? Well, he drives to the window and flips his shit. Starts shouting that he didn’t order all these hamburgers but he wanted a big mac (still not a mcdonalds). Guy literally goes ballistic and starts throwing the hamburgers at us. After a long 5 minutes we get him to calm down, but not before threatening to call the cops.
The crazy thing about all this? My co-worker was few weeks pregnant at the time. No-one knew.
21. Working at McDonald’s one fateful night shift this very drunk man makes an order for 2 Big Macs, I hear two other voices and assume its just his friends. After they order, I open the window for them to pull up. Four minutes pass they still haven’t pulled up. I’m confused at this point, so I look out the window to see a couple fucking in the front seat of a taxi…with the cab driver sitting next to them.
McDonald’s reported grim earnings Friday morning, continuing a lengthy slump at the company.
“Our results declined as unforeseen events and weak operating performance pressured results in each of our geographic segments,” CEO Don Thompson said in a release.
McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson Adrees Latif / Reuters
Revenue fell 7% in the last three months of the year, partially thanks to foreign currencies weakening against the dollar.
But it wasn’t just a currency thing. Globally, same-store sales fell 1%, thanks to “negative guest traffic in all major segments.”
The profit numbers were even worse — earnings per share fell 19% and profit dropped to $1.01 billion from $1.4 billion a year ago. McDonald’s blamed “weak operating performance” in the U.S. and a “supplier issue” overseas.
AFP / Getty Images SAUL LOEB
In the U.S. specifically, same-store sales fell 1.7% and operating income fell 15%. McDonald’s said that in 2015, it will begin “evolving to a more nimble, customer-led organization” with a greater focus on “menu simplification and local customer tastes.”
On a call with analysts, Thompson pointed to several countries where the Golden Arches are struggling, including Japan. Recently, plastic was found in Japanese McNuggets. Thompson said “consumer perception” issues hurt the brand.
Issei Kato / Reuters
The “supplier issue” in Asia hammered the company’s earnings, costing them $110 million, about 9 cents a share, to win back customers in China, Japan, and Hong Kong, which account for 10% of the company’s sales. Japan sales have declined over 20%.
McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson and executives visit with McDonald’s Olympic Champion Crew at the McDonald’s restaurant in the Athletes Village ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 6, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Getty Images for McDonald’s Marianna Massey
McDonald’s stock is down about 5% in the last year, but only down slightly today.
“We’re making progress as we move closer to our customers and as we change to be more relevant and progressive. Modern service, genuine hospitality, personal engagement, more vanity customized menus and a brand that people can truly trust,” Thompson said.