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RestaurantIamA, or rather was, a McDonald's General Manager for the better part of 15 years, maybe longer. I'm hoping not to die there - AMA

May 27th 2016 by McLeanDeluxe • 18 Questions • 185 Points

My! - a little about my experience - I was(still am?) a loser high school sort of drop out, who started out with a part time job at the Golden Arches in a small New England town, and later moved way south to a suburb of a major metro area.

I worked my way up through the McD's ranks - from crew person to general manager. This was 99% with a franchisee - I started in late 90s, and left a time or two. I remained with them, for the most part, for the greater part of 15 years. I tremble saying that.

The experiences I went through were interesting, I suppose. I like to tell myself that I got promoted because I was the best, but probably I was just there long enough. I did, however, go through McDonald's transition to the Made for You system 15 years or so ago, saw many sandwiches come, go and die, watched them do stupid things from a store view. I ran several stores that were about to be repossessed by the McDonald's Corporation, and kept that from happening (this, in particular, will kill you, and there is no reward), watched a sexual harassment case that startled me, fought the labor board, fended off ravenous health inspectors. Fun times.

I know, or at least I think I know, quite a bit at the store level. Or did. Do. Sometimes. There is a ton I don't know - my focus was a grunt store manager making others a bit of money. A lot of money to us poor wage slaves.

Here's my proof - http://imgur.com/hBtLiU8

Hope that linked up well - I certainly can't compete with the importance of some our more distinguished guests (Dawkins, have you ever had a Shamrock Shake?), but here I am.

My Proof: Enter link here

Q:

I see that you have a Bachelor's degree in Hamburgerology. How did you arrive at that discipline over, say, Nugget-American Studies?

A:

This made me laugh so terribly. McDonald's University in Oak Brook was an interesting experience. My disdain follows to that degree. But everyone I show it to cracks up, so I did get that out of it.


Q:

You talk about your time with McDonald's with almost a disdain. Did you just become complacent and roll with it? Why did you stay for so long if you didn't really enjoy it? I'm quitting my current stable job because I fear exactly this happening.

A:

There's a lot of disdain. I enjoyed aspects of the job; I was very good at it. I had kids. I needed money. They always paid me just enough to not flee, worked me hard enough to not have the energy to go looking, and, frankly, I didn't (and sometimes still don't) know how to find something better.

My bosses have always known I hated the job. Always.

I work in retail now because it's not so bad, and because I'm a single father. I'm almost 40; my youngest is now 16. Is it too late to find something else, is it too late to run? Am I now stuck in this forever?

I did several other things, but never gained enough skillz to do anything else. I did attend a university for about 4 years. It wasn't enough to get my degree; I'm about 80 hours in with a 3.9 GPA. I moved, so I just established residency and am about to start a state school. Wish me luck.

If you have the option to leave, do so. I didn't feel I had that option with a family. Maybe I did.


Q:

What's your weirdest experience, if you can pick one?

Also, Have you seen the Hamburgler?

A:

My lord. Weird. Well. Ok. I walked in on two employees having sex in the bathroom. I asked them to remember to stock the lids, and I left. Oh, having to do a disciplinary on that. Why didn't they at least close the stall?

Ever seen one of those huge McD's clamshell grills? I watched a manager plug one in (fucking huge voltage) standing in a huge puddle of water. She went to the hospital. You can't protect some people.

I was in work one day and large woman began speaking in tongues to the lord. She ran around for about 20 minutes doing this. It was incredible. Meanwhile all the customers are staring at me like I'm supposed to jump this woman and hold her down or something.

Appalling? A manager, who was besties with the owner, dated a 15 year old girl for 4 years (she didn't remain 15 for all of those years, though) and it was pretty much ok. He was 28? I think?

Sad? I watched one of my closest mentors go blind, another have heart attack after heart attack (and the owners would get pissed at him because he'd leave early when he'd have chest pains). I watched a friend who had been in the industry for 30 years die on the floor in the grill. She was a great person. It hurt.

I've been the Hamburglar.


Q:

You write really well. No questions right now, just wanted to say that.

Cheers

A:

Thanks. I reread some of the things I posted and every grammar and punctuation error I've made leaps out at me.


Q:

Wow!! Thank you so much for sharing all this.

A:

Thank you for being interested. There's some really impressive people who post AMAs. That's intimidating, to say the least.


Q:

You mention in one reply that you would never earn a bonus because the store owner couldn't afford it and the stores were barely hanging on. You also mention multiple times that wages should be raised for the employees. How do you rectify those two opposing thoughts? If they can't pay one manager a bonus how could the franchise support substantial wage increases across the board and still stay in business?

A:

I also mentioned how I could see the owner's Mercedes V-12 from the drive thru window. I had been to his and his children's houses several times. I knew they had each got there trust fund with over a million dollars each at the age of 40.

They had the money.

As far as bonus, the owner would spend hours explaining the bonus program to us, and then we'd never earn it, because it was fucking impossible to understand. Starship Bistromath type shit "across a waiter's pad the numbers dance".

In my case, I was put in broken stores for 4 years running. I worked stores that were about to be repossessed. There was no earning a bonus in those stores. I was in a permanent bind. I would be expected to turn operations around, do so, and then be assigned to a new store to do the same. I probably could have pushed for a premium for doing this, but when I realized that I had been taken total advantage of, I left.

They have the money. They lie. The powerful have the money. They lie. They are lying to you, to me, to each other.


Q:

The franchisee knew corporate would send the defibrillator(new nick for OP), so they kept the coffers dry.

A:

They were not operating at full potential, not at all. The stores I was assigned were stores that were about to be repossessed by the corporation for very, very poor operations. They still made money - only one store I worked in didn't make money, and that store was brand spanking new. But losing a store to the IPUR/F process meant some serious issues for operator income, and, worse, made o/o's ineligible for rewrites (renewing the franchisee agreement on existing stores).

The store that didn't make money? They thought it was going to do about 2.8 million a year; the first year didn't gross half a million. The GM at the time was a friend of the owner/operator, and they let him run it for too long. He was awful and lazy to begin with. My rants on him would be depressing (he stole a lot of the manuals I wrote for new managers for some of the new tech. Didn't find that out til much, much later).

He was spending money hand over fist on labor. This store was part of a llc that had the store I was in, and my store was paying for that store to stay open. They switched me over. We were good 3 weeks later. We weren't making shit for money, but we breaking even.


Q:

What is your opinion at the level of work expected at McD's and on increasing minimum wage?

A:

McD's is like any shit job. You are going to work hard, and you are going to work long, and you are not going to better yourself unless you hit the jackpot and become an operator.

As a basic crew person, you cannot support yourself on that income. In fact; it's getting worse. I'm sure many redditors have seen the farcical budget McDs came out with a couple or so years back. Operators, as they have with all of the service industries, have cut hours in response to Obamacare (28/24 hours or less. I got that notice from Corporate, the franchisee, meetings, etc). One operator I worked for was very smart; they own two McDs, and both are separate businesses. If they really like you, you get to work 40 hours and one restaurant and 40 at the other(people do this. Seriously). If not, you get 25 at one and 25 at the other. Nice, huh? I wish I could find the emails, I've been gone 3ish years and I deleted many due to utter rejection. But this was advised by McD corp. There's always been a gentlemen's agreement between McD's operators that they wouldn't poach from each other's stores. The memo we got was the operators should start working together so people could get hours without anyone becoming full time. Nice, huh?

Most managers are step above, and by step above, I mean a step below. Flex time (I could explain that, you'd be horrified). Salary was set at 24k, and they would get as many as feasible under that umbrella (again, utilizing flex time) as they could.

Raising Minimum wage is necessary (until every job is automated and we all get a guaranteed state income!). As best as I've been able to observe, McD's has become more and more labor dependent as the years go by. When I started, you could run the grill area on 3 people who were very good, 4 or so on high volume. When I left, 8 were needed on high volume. In the late 60s/early 70s/80s (I think, I wasn't alive yet for those times) McDonald's was a trailblazer for coloreds and homemakers(on the videos). But really, you could hire minorities at far cheaper rates than white men...really.

The threatening "automation" of McDonald's is needed, but still funny. How many times does the shake machine go down, and that's a simple machine. But they'll do it. And with most of the store automated, the store will probably have the right amount of payroll where they give decent service and don't rape society. Well, not really. They'll always look and find a way to do that.


Q:

What's your opinion on unionizing fast food workers and the fight for fifteen?

Related to that, does McDonalds have specific anti-Union training for managers?

A:

Unionize. It's needed. I support it. There are aspects I wouldn't like, I bet, but the overall gains would be worth it. There are many, many arguments "paramedics only make 12 bucks an hour and they save lives". But my thought is that if you are willing to work, why shouldn't you be able to live? We aren't all suited to do more, but can all contribute, and we shouldn't piss on those who are willing to contrinute.

In my time there was no anti-union training. But I worked in a southern state. I had the right to work! Unions aren't going to have a shot. McDs does have their anti-union squads, but I've never met anyone from them.


Q:

Thank you for your response! While trying to organize protests for fast food workers in my state we were kicked out of a few places by gm's so it's nice to know there is management out there that is pro-Union.

A:

Good luck. You're needed.


Q:

Why arent you a dm/aom by now?

A:

I frequently have spoken my mind - if I didn't think something was right, I'd say something. I was frequently spoken to about moving to DM. Plus, I could perform. You generally don't waste talent by putting them in an unnecessary position.

I had to fix stores DMs and their GMs messed up. That's not a conceit or shifting responsibility from myself for that ceiling of sorts. I chiefly worked for a 12 store operator. Four of their stores went into something called the IPUR process. We called that the "F" process. It's an intense, horrible experience and it sucks out your soul. I did that process 3 times; my second time was a major reason my marriage failed. I wasn't capable of working 70 hour weeks, taking 9 hours of college credits, and being married. I brought the stores out of the F process, and maintained a 3.9 GPA. The marriage didn't do so well.

tl;dr Because I don't always know how to shut up.


Q:

Are they going to bring the MC DLT back? And what about the Arch Deluxe?

A:

Sure, they largely did, the McDLT is basically the Big and Tasty. But in Styrofoam! Which they won't do again. The Arch Deluxe. We had to wear stupid little buttons that said "if you don't like it, I'll eat it". I liked the Arch Deluxe. It was supposed to bring a grown up feel to McDonald's, since McDs largely catered to children...which they should have kept doing. Customers did not like the Arch Deluxe; I'd be shocked if you ever saw it again.


Q:

How unhealthy is McDonalds ? Can you tell us something that a very few people know about McDonalds?

A:

McDonald's is not as healthy as that lean chicken breast, a sweet potato, and some broccoli. McDonald's Big Mac meal has less than half the calories of a Regular burger at Five Guys (how many calories are in a fucking bag - not container - bag - of fries? Remember when the McDs guy didn't want to give you extra fries on that medium fry you ordered? He's saving your life!)

So make your best judgment on health. I love Five Guys hamburgers, but I know not to eat it everyday.

McNuggets come in 4 shapes - bones, balls, boots, and bells.


Q:

So this probably gets asked at alot of other McD AMAs but, who was the rudest/worst customer that you ever had the displeasure of serving?

A:

Had this one lady, oh my. I was working (very short term) for an operator I had never worked for. This lady was a beast; I didn't find out her life story until later (self-entitled, disliked everywhere, ugg). I watched her slam through the door and go hollering for a manager. I was helping another customer, and the only manager at the time. I'm in the dining room, and the customer doesn't see me for a minute or two. I finally extracted myself from the other customer, and walked over to her. I apologized and asked her what I could do. "Where have you been" "Helping another customer" Why weren't you helping me" "I was with another customer; he was here first" "You should have helped me first" "He was here first" "You should have helped me first, and I promise you will regret not helping me". So I go about trying to help her, and she's getting ruder and ruder - insulting me, telling me I was lazy. Finally, I had it, and told her to leave. She was goading me into this point (didn't realize that til just now. Whoa). She ranted at me, cussing for a few minutes, then left. She left, and called another store, who called our district manager. This DM was an ass - the customer was always right, didn't matter what the situation was. He told me that she was coming back to the store, and I was going to apologize to her, and give her what she wanted. I told him I didn't feel comfortable with that; he said I was going to do it and that was that. I explained to him again that I did not feel comfortable with that. Bullying tactics all the way with me. So I said ok.

The lady came back with that smug look - you all who've been there know which one. It's that look of power over a nobody.

So she walks in and said "So you have something to say to me?" I said, "Yes ma'am; the company has asked me to apologize to you for your behavior and for my inability to tolerate people like you. They also said you could have this for free. Is there anything else you'd like?"

The look on her face. The look of shocked disbelief on my coworker's face.

I didn't work there for much longer.


Q:

Is it true about Mcdonald's hamburger being a really crappy product ? https://youtu.be/fdghgZhObSk

A:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLa-4dBJSkw

If apples are, I guess.


Q:

Is op ever going to answer?

A:

Sorry - I went to fix a pond pump; I guess I'm kind of surprised this popped quickly.


Q:

I've read plenty of McDonald's worker AMAs. Don't need another so bye bye?

A:

I can be rather boring, but I promise you can't smell the grease all the way from where you are.


Q:

That's cause i ate your crappy ass food for lunch today

A:

But you did eat it.