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Let me give you a scenario.  See if you can follow along.

It's 8:45 p.m. on a Friday night.  You're working at your local McDonald's and the after dinner rush is about to pull in.  It comes in everyday at about this time.  You're low on people.  So and so is having a fight with his girlfriend, another person has a math final this Friday, and yet another is sick. So that means you're down three people until 10 p.m.  

The rush comes in.  You are slammed.  There are people coming in through drive through and flooding your front counter.  Everything goes smooth for the first 10 or so minutes.  The runner is fulfilling orders, the fry person has fries cooking on time, and the grill area is making sandwiches without missing any special orders.  Esperanza is a one woman sandwich making machine.  Then the disaster happens.  Someone ordered a Large Sweet Tea in drive through, paid, is on their way to the second window, and your window person forgot to refill the Sweet Tea or tell anyone that he needed it because that was the one thing he/she forgot to restock and the drive through person just didn't know. On top of that, Back Cash needs singles because people keep paying with twenties.  The fry person is new (everyone who just starts out is put on fries) and can't seem to figure out why the blasted thing keeps getting stuck.  You're out of ice for the smoothie machine and someone ordered four large Mocha Frappes, and someone just came back from drive through with a sandwich error.  You are missing three people, so you have just enough for window, front counter, order runner, and fry guy is new: he has no clue what he's doing.

What do you do?

Well, the most efficient thing to do would be to grab anything that needs to be refilled, put it under your arm, and head to the back.  On the way, tell the fry person to take one of the baskets of fries he already had waiting (because you told him to do that beforehand) tell him to cook those and wait until you get back.  Waiting for fries will ruin your order time: they take 2 and a half minutes.  You drop off all of your empty bins for sauces, ketchups, and the like, tell your back cash person to refill those after telling the person at the window you're getting change.  Go into the cooler, get the bin of Sweet Tea, walk back up midway between the front and back, hand fry person bin of tea and tell him to refill.  While he refills, you can count cash and you know the Sweet Tea guy won't have to be parked, waiting on a drink while his food gets cold.  Grab a bin of ice from the ice machine, have it waiting for fry guy so he can get it once he refills the tea, and tell him to go up front with it as you're on your way back to the back cash person to give them their singles while you grab all of the (now) filled containers, go back up, meet "irate lady with the wrong McDouble order," and re-ring her order correctly while apologizing profusely and alerting her to the fact she has fresh, greasy fries in her bag.  After that's all said and done, show new fry guy the "reload" button he was apparently missing.  Make him feel better by reminding him the fry machine is a piece of junk anyways.  

Not bad for $7.40 an hour.

One of the talking points you'll hear in the minimum wage fight is that minimum wage jobs are "unskilled."  They're so low on the totem pole that "anyone" could do them.  McDonald's workers are stereotyped as dull witted, slow, and unable to make it at a job where intelligence would be necessary.  Paying them minimum wage is what they deserve.  This is garbage and an example of Republican elitism.  A McDonald's job is not unskilled.  It's fast paced.  It's stressful.  It has a lot of moving parts.  You have 90 seconds from the time someone orders to the time you give them their food.  You have customers who have an inflated sense of what a dollar gets them.  You always have to kill three birds with one stone.  You need to make split second decisions that will determine whether the customer leaves with a smile or they are yelling at you and giving a speech.  You get blamed for screw-ups that have nothing to do with you.  It takes one split second, poor decision to not fry something on time.  The timing is tight and following the rules does not necessarily allow for you to get everything out on time when a situation presents itself that's not in the rulebook.  What if the customer just wants a muffin and an egg?  How do you give someone the best bang for their buck if all they want is a Egg White delight, but on a bagel, and the gods at corporate didn't program the menu to do that?

Say what you want about what dollar value the minimum wage should be or it's effect on prices and unemployment, but "unskilled labor?"  Hardly.

Originally posted to sujigu on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 10:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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