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Irene-y Wish For Better Managers

, , , , | Working | May 24, 2021

In August of 2011, the east coast of the United States got hit by Hurricane Irene. While my city usually didn’t get hit too hard by these things, this time we had widespread power outages and trees down all over the place.

I called in to my job at [National Burger Chain] because I was new to driving and was nervous about trying to navigate through streets clogged with downed trees.

Manager: “Well, we need you to come in; we’re short-staffed.”

Lesson learned for next time: just say, “I can’t leave my neighborhood,” and hang up.

Sigh. So, I went in.

A couple of hours in, just before lunch started, we partially lost power. The freezers, coolers, and registers stopped working, but the managers decided that this wasn’t enough of a reason to close. After all, the fryers and other cooking appliances were somehow still working just fine.

We had to write out all the orders, using a calculator that only half-worked and a list of prices that was no longer accurate. Because we had to yell orders to the kitchen, we started directing all customers to order inside instead of in the drive-thru, so as not to overwhelm the kitchen. But then, the managers decided that for the entire lunch rush, we had to have both the drive-thru and front counter open. Because reasons, I guess.

This should have been my sign to quit, as it was extremely stressful with what amounted to a skeleton crew and half our tech not working. But no, not yet.

After my break, I returned to the front counter to help take orders. Since our registers weren’t working, I would frequently have to yell an announcement that we couldn’t accept credit cards — cash only. You can probably guess how many actually listened.

Just after one of my announcements, a man came up to the front counter.

Rude Customer: “Y’know, I could sue you for this!”

Me: “I’m sorry, sue us for what?”

Rude Customer: “If you’re open, you’re legally obligated to accept any form of currency that you’re given!”

Me: “Sir, the system isn’t working.”

Rude Customer: “Give me the number for your manager, the regional manager, the corporate manager, whoever. I need to tell them about you pulling this illegal s***!”

I was stressed and done with the nonsense.

Me: “I would call Hurricane Irene; it’s her fault.”

A girl standing next to him in line explained that she was a student in law school and warned him that we were not legally obligated to accept an impossible-to-accept form of currency.

Rude Customer: “I don’t care if you’re in law school! I know my rights!” 

He turned and stormed off.

Did I quit after that? Nope. I hadn’t broken yet.

Two days later, I headed in to start work and my coworker pulled me aside.

Coworker: “I wouldn’t get anything to eat here if I were you. They’re selling the stuff that thawed out in the freezers.”

I was struck speechless.

THAT’S when I quit!

I quietly turned around, walked back out the door, made a phone call, and calmly walked back to my car. The burger joint was closed the next day due to a health code violation, anonymously reported by a concerned employee.

Luckily, I applied to a local bank branch for a part-time teller position a few days later and got a phone interview, and then they set up a full interview a day later. A few hours after the interview, they called to let me know they wanted to hire me!

The burger joint is under completely new management.