I have worked in the fast food industry a long time, and have seen a lot of strange things from customers over the years. I had an interesting encounter last night with a customer, that I want to share.
Right now I am working as an employee at KFC. (A fast food chicken place.) It's not the greatest job in the world, I make $7.35 US Dollars an hour, and I struggle to get 20 hours a week. It's not hard work, really, I run the register, pack food according to the customer's orders, and clean and stock in the store. But, it's a job, and while it's not always what I want to be doing, for now, it's what I do.
The weather was unseasonably warm for Iowa yesterday, so we were pretty busy between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. I was at the front counter, taking the orders for customers that would come in the lobby. A man came in, he ordered the new Double Down grilled sandwich, just the sandwich, to go. No big deal, except that almost immediately after ordering, he starts on a what will become a 20 minute diatribe about just about everything.
Now, a bit of a disclaimer here. I'm going to post as much of what I can remember about what he said here, in italics. I don't remember it all, as I've been groggy from a head cold, and the back part of the store can be very loud. He wasn't talking too loudly, so I didn't catch everything he said, but I do remember some things quite clearly.
It started with trying to complete the order transaction. He said, this is so slow, and I inferred that he was talking about the whole Iowa way of life, how we take our time to do things, how we're unhurried as a whole. He also mentioned that he was from California, (I think he said the LA area) and how things were so much faster and more streamlined out there. He said, this is the hot tub time machine, this is 1985! Even our credit card machine didn't meet with his approval, as he looked over the counter to watch my run his card. Too old school, I guess.
Then, as he waits for his food, he goes on about how can we do this to ourselves, how can we treat our bodies this way. Our bodies are temples, and if we don't respect them and ourselves, how can we start to respect others? I do understand that, I really do. I am about 60 pounds overweight, and I know this. I know that I should take better care of myself, and I don't like the way I look right now, but that's just the way it is. And I'm the only one to blame for that, and the only one who can change that.
If this guy was so concerned about his health, he was at the wrong restaurant in the first place. KFC is not known for its health food. He ordered the Double Down Grilled Sandwich. It has 460 calories, and 1430 milligrams of sodium, which is actually more sodium than the Original Double Down Sandwich, which comes in at 540 calories and 1380 mg for the sodium.
But he just kept going. And I was not needed in the kitchen at that time, and other employees were packing food, so I didn't have any escape route. I had to listen, as best I could given the conditions, to this man.
Here's what I remember. Something about how being fat is like just seeing the tip of the iceberg, you only see about 10 percent of it, it's the other 90 percent that you can't see. And that trickles down to other aspects of their lives, such as their religious views, their work ethic, how they treat other people and maybe even how they treat their kids.
Also in there he got started on how some people (I'm not sure if he meant us low level employees, or just in general, ) wind up on welfare, and I (the man) would have to pay for it.
During most of this speech I am trying to keep up, nod and smile, or at least try to say something back. I couldn't get a word in edgewise, and if any of you know me in real life, that's a rare occurance. And I'm supposed to be nice and polite to the customers, so asking them what kind of crack they are smoking, and would they please SHUT UP isn't really very good business practice. I was also trying to edge my way into the kitchen a couple of times, hoping they would need my help, but to no avail.
Next on the list was that he had lived in Europe for ten years, and Americans are the most ugly, overweight disgusting people. Finally after he did get his sandwich, he come up with this. Really, is there more cottage cheese here than the dairy section? Then he left.
I was very relieved, to say the least. And in our defense, at the time he was there, only one other employee besides myself could have been considered "overweight", so really that comment about the "cottage cheese" was unwarranted, in my opinion. While I was rather busy after he left, when I had more time to think about this encounter, the more odd some of his statements seemed.
I know Iowa isn't LA. Things can be slower here, a little more laid back, a little less fast paced. But this isn't Bedrock, either. We have high speed internet, iphones, and other technology too. Yeah, traffic isn't as bad on Collins Road in Cedar Rapids as it is on 405 in California, but that doesn't mean we're totally backwards.
Another point, because I'm fat, I have a bad work ethic, unfavorable religious views, and it possibly reflects on how I treat my kids? Yeah, I don't think so. I might not have went to law school, like he said he did, and I don't have the best job in the world, but I work hard at what I do to try to provide for my family. I don't feel like it's always enough, but I do what I can. As for my religious views, my faith may waver, but it's still pretty strong. And I believe that everyone has the right to believe in what they want, despite what I myself believe. And if I had been able to speak my piece, I would have said something about how I love both of my children very much, and my weight has nothing to do with how I treat them. At all.
The part about being on welfare caught my ear too. I know that there are abusers of the system, but I also know that it can be helpful to those that need it. I myself was on Medicaid (state aid) for both of my pregnancies, and my children have been on some sort of state sponsored medical insurance their whole lives. I am grateful for this, as my son was in the NICU for the first week of his life, with a bill running well over $100,000, and my daughter is going to be needing special developmental care, and neither me nor my husband can afford these costs out of pocket. And as for this man having to pay for something if I get hurt? Sorry, not for me. I have no health insurance. If I need medical care outside of getting hurt at work, I'm paying for it out of pocket, and at full price. And my cousin/godmother, who has been living off of disability for 15 years for job related injuries, is triple doomed because she's living on government money, has medicaid, and is morbidly obese? I guess she's got another strike against her as well, as she's been recently been diagnosed with cancer, and the state of Wisconsin will have to cover those medical expenses.
So, Mr. Customer, feel free to go back to California and your fast paced, fit, beautiful lifestyle. And if that gets to be too much for you, feel free to go back to Europe and live. At the very least, please stay out of my workplace. And don't let any doors hit you on the way out, either.