Secret Teenage Rebellion
Updated: Apr 26
OLD FRED (Today):
I have a shameful secret to share with you, the reader. My family eats out way too much, and, in the last 2 weeks, I have noticed a secret teenage rebellion afoot.
Right when restaurants starting closing at the break of the pandemic, local radio stations asked the public not to forget about their favorite local restaurants. So one evening while my wife was at work at the hospital, I decided to pick up Mr. Hero for dinner.
Now I have frequented Mr. Hero since I was a teen myself and here's their scam. If no one is in line at Mr. Hero, you get good service. If 2+ people are in line, you are spending the better part of your evening at Mr. Hero waiting for your food. But once you eat that Romanburger, the memory of that bad service evaporates right away.
So the night in question, about 10 days ago, I ordered and the 18 year old at the register kept messing up my total. What I noticed is that the manager in the back wouldn't walk up to the register to fix the problem, she kept calling the clerk to the back to explain what he was doing wrong. How did I know the lady in the back was the manager? Because her picture and her commitment to excellence was posted by the register. After bungling a relatively easy order multiple time, she kept calling him into the back, but she herself wouldn't approach the customer area.
When the teen went to hand me my food, he dropped one of the bags on the floor behind the counter. I stopped him and said "listen, those subs didn't fall out, just give me the bag."
And I swore to myself, I would never return to Mr. Hero again. (Then, after I ate that yummy Romanburger, I amended that to "I will not return to Mr. Hero....until after the pandemic ends.")
But then I started to notice that those teenagers, not just at Mr. Hero, but all over the service industry, are not happy to be declared essential workers. And I've noticed that adult workers over 30 aren't going into the customer service areas. I haven't seen one manager working the front lines of customer service (except for at, surprisingly, WalMart.)
Before citing more examples of surly and scared teens that have taken place in the last week, I remembered being a bitter 19 year old worker at Taco Bell myself....
YOUNG FRED (Today in parallel universe):
Let me tell you something, since this pandemic started, I haven't seen that weasel District Manager once. Every time I turn around salaried managers are having meetings in the office. My goal is to get these contaminated customers out of here as soon as possible and I can't do that working the front register and making food myself. I am making a hair over minimum wage and the CEO is working from home, the district manager is on "the road," and salaried managers are all afraid to interact with customers.
These customers need to stay home and learn how to cook and we might as well close. All those idiots on the radio are being paid by corporate restaurants to trick people into leaving their homes.
If the actual managers of these restaurants were forced to work the front counters, they'd all be closed. You know who's working the front lines at the local Mom & Pop restaurants? The owners, because they don't want to go bankrupt. You know who's working the front lines of multinational corporations like Yum? Teenagers.
OLD FRED (Today):
One of my favorite restaurants is Melt. When I order Melt to go for lunch (I can literally walk there from my desk) they NEVER seem happy to see me. The food is always good, but if I ate there all the time I'd be broke and I'd weigh 500 pounds.
I can't imagine that they'd even PRETEND to be happy to see me during the pandemic, no matter what their owner says.
They're another restaurant I'm avoiding until all this virus business dies down. Don't get me wrong, the local owner is aggressively advertising that they're open....
YOUNG FRED (Still in a parallel universe): Let me interrupt you. How about this? Either everyone works from home or no one works from home. Let me give you an example: If Taco Bell wants to stay open, instead of the Yum CEO working from home, he works from the closed dining room. He has to punch in and out on the same register as the employees. Not just him, zone managers, district managers, general managers, human resource officers, everyone.
Not everyone has to work in the same restaurant, the white collar workers can all pick out the nearest restaurant locations and set up shop there. They get their own booth and can do their business from a laptop. If they wanted something to drink, they could grab a coffee or a pop from the kitchen. Everyone working together as a team. You know what would happen in that set up? All Taco Bells would be closed....
In about 3 fucking seconds.
OLD FRED: Well-
YOUNG FRED (Right now, in a parallel universe): It doesn't matter what the business. Say you're Amazon, guess who's setting up shop in a distribution center? That's right Jeff Bezos. He can sit in the corner and listen to the employees hack away in the background. Google lets everyone work from home? Well good for them.
All I'm saying is, in corporations, there isn't always a "we're in this together attitude." In a pandemic, all hands should be on deck. So if you know someone who works at a place like, say Iron Mountain, looks like the General Manager is doing ride-alongs in trucks. Looks like the district manager is holed up in the warehouse. Maybe that should be the statute moving forward. If you are "essential," no one can work from home, either everyone is working the front lines or no one is working the front lines.
Did you just hear the sounds of America shutting down?