Five Things I Learned At McDonald’s
Well, since last week I had my last day of my McDonald’s job, I figured I would do a blog about it! It was my very first REAL job (all I’d done before was babysitting, paper route, volunteer work and online writing that wasn’t enough for me to live off of), and I was so very grateful to get the job when I did, after being unemployed for so long.
So, now that that phase is over (so far), here are the top 5 things I learned while I was working at McDonald’s! 🙂
1. I Really Like to Help People
I know, that’s kind of vague, and something that everybody says. What I mean, though, is that whenever I am able to do something that actually helps someone out, I get a very satisfying feeling of accomplishment. And it’s over the smallest things! When somebody is ordering and they ask a question about what’s on a sandwich, or they want to know the difference in price between a frappe and a mocha, I love being able to give them the answer. My job IS to help them get what they want; that’s what I’m there for. And so however they need me to assist, whether it is with my knowledge of the menu or spending extra time rereading their order back to them, I really enjoy doing my best to make their shopping experience a good one.
2. Take Criticism Seriously, But Don’t Take it to Heart
Anywhere that you work, you’re going to get corrected and critiqued by people, especially when you’re learning a new job. Your managers and supervisors are “bossy” and authoritative for a reason: to teach you how to do the job with excellence. That means that things you do are going to be corrected, and attitudes you have will be reproved. When you’re doing something wrong, it’s their job to tell you how to stop and fix it.
When it’s busy and chaotic in McDonald’s, sometimes it gets very stressful, and it’s easy for any critique at all to feel like a cut-down or condescending, if you let it. Communication is key, and the priority isn’t to sugarcoat it, but to make sure the message gets across. The important thing for me is to make sure I listen to the words that are told to me (“Make sure you do this”, “This part of your job is your priority, not that”) without getting thrown off or hurt by any stressed tone or frustrated sigh. People can’t help getting stressed out, and frustration can make people seem more upset than they actually are. So if I’m tempted to feel insecure by something that was said in the heat of craziness, I’ve learned to follow the correction itself while shaking off the rest.
3. A Small Compliment Can Make Your Day
When running around doing a lot of mundane and repetitive tasks all day long, sometimes a genuine smile or a kind word can just make your day. I remember one morning I had been on Window (which is what we call the counter with the cash registers, for some reason) for a while by myself; I had served a pleasant man who went and ate his food, and when he was done he came up to the counter and told me that I had a very pleasant demeanor, and to keep up the good work. I smiled about that for the next 10 minutes.
There was a lady in drive thru who always asked for extra ice in her sweet tea and would thank me every time I put it in. Many customers who came through were just so friendly and good-humored that it brightened me right up. And of course, getting a smiling “You’re doing a great job!” from a manager, or a delighted “Hi, Bethany!” from a co-worker was always encouraging. So the next time you enjoy your experience at a restaurant, say so to the worker! It might just make their day.
4. The Majority of People Are Actually Pretty Nice
For years I didn’t apply to any fast food places because I was all like, “I don’t think I could handle all the angry customers!” But actually getting into the job, I discovered that that issue wasn’t nearly as prevalent as I expected it to be!
More than half of the customers I served were friendly, pleasant and understanding. Lots of times the customers themselves would be the ones apologizing for their complicated orders. Even those who aren’t overtly chatty or smiley are rarely grumpy or make complaints. Most people will wait patiently for their food, and when we as workers treat them politely and apologize for any mistakes we make, we’re usually greeted with understanding. (Though of course we never know what people will say when they go out to their car 😉 )
Though I’ve definitely experienced my share of cranky customers and rude people, for me it’s a very rare thing. Everybody has their bad days and snippy moments, but for the most part, I think people really try to be decent to each other. And it’s very encouraging when they are.
5. No Job is Unimportant
Like I said earlier, it was several years of off and on job searching before I decided to apply to any fast food places. It’s not that I thought it was “beneath” me; it was just the kind of thing that everybody seemed to say wasn’t the best of work, and again, I was scared to be in that fast-paced environment. And while I still wouldn’t want to work in fast food my whole life (especially now that I’ve discovered how much it hurts to stand for too long), getting the McDonald’s job was very relieving for me, and I was so grateful.
While the work is basic and the tasks fairly easy to learn, that doesn’t mean that it’s not important. Being excellent in everything is something that you need to take into every job you have. It’s easy to mess up behind the counter, and “accuracy, speed and friendliness” are the 3 things McDonald’s strives for. Finding the perfect balance between all 3 can be challenging, but it’s definitely possible! But it takes a lot of teamwork. You’ve got those taking orders, taking money, making food, packing food and giving food When everyone does their job with excellence, everything goes well; but when a mistake is made, usually more than one person has to help to rectify it. Each task is vital, and though we may not be saving the world, striving to always do my best is something I want to take with me into every job.
Thanks to my McDonald’s team for being my team and making my time there awesome! Good luck to all of y’al! 🙂