Anyone who's ever worked in the food service industry knows that things can get out of hand and tempers can flare up without any notice. In an industry as fast-paced and demanding as restaurants, it's only a matter of time before some blows up without putting much thought into what happens afteward.
A Reddit thread recently asked food service workers to share their craziest "fire me, I dare you" stories from their time in the industry, and judging by the submitted comments, just about everyone has had this type of experience. It doesn't matter if they were cooks, waiters, or bartenders, each and every one of these food service professionals had something to say. All posts have been edited for clarity.
Don’t Threaten A Server Unless You Want This Happening
“For the past few years, I’ve worked at one of the ‘nicer’ restaurants in my small beach town. I’m one of the only servers there who cares about doing a good and I’m the only one who doesn’t take a smoke break every 15 minutes.
This past summer a new, very illegal rule was implemented that if we messed up an order in any way, we would be liable to pay for the messed up food. I usually didn’t have a problem with mess ups, so I didn’t bring up the legality of this matter since I make good money and don’t want to start fires in places that don’t concern me. That was until I rang in a ‘Cherry Glazed Burger’ instead of a ‘Cherry Glazed Steak’ (each stylized CGB and CGS in our computer system).
I fixed this with the kitchen, but not before they had already started the burger. I told my manager and she just gave me a disappointed look and told me that rules are rules. I then dived into both federal and state workers’ rights code and told her she would never see me again if I found any money out of my tips at the end of the night.
I never had a problem fixing an order again.”
“Go For It…”
“I used to work at a small, family-owned grocery store for a few years. We got our load in on Mondays and Thursdays, but we got passed over one Monday and the distributor said we’d get the missing load in on Thursday. So, what essentially happened was a double load and my two receiving partners were out sick. I was the only person in the warehouse/receiving at the time and got to take on 15 pallets of groceries that needed to hit the shelves immediately.
I was specifically told to not go up front and to do what I could while the front end crew covered the aisles and cash registers. Well, a lot of them were either lazy, untrained, or just putting in their hours so they could pay bills. I put in my earbud, just one, and get to work. I was halfway through checking in the pallets when I got called up front. So I ignored it and continued. Then I got called again. So I headed up there and got yelled at by a new hire with a bad attitude to ‘do your job and bag for me!’ The customer was a regular and we got along very well, and she told me that she was fine and could bag her own groceries.
Between the customer and the fact that I wasn’t having it, I walked away. I had three years and two ranks on her, so I didn’t give a crap and went back to my pallets. Then I got the newest hotshot manager, who replaced the old hotshot manager, who replaced the beloved manager who trained basically the whole store, in my face about having an earbud in on the clock, and said I could be sent home and not come back if I wanted to listen to music. I gestured to the pallets and said, ‘Go for it, these all need to be checked in and broken down. Have fun.’
I got to keep my earbud in. So I had that going for me, which was nice.”
It Was All Over After The Phone Call To The Health Inspector
“I worked as a chef for the last year. I left a place due to college as the hours were way too much (40+ hours a week) and put that on top of full-time college, I didn’t have any time off.
A friend recommended a place that was closer to home than most other restaurants, so I applied and got the job within a few hours.
I knew immediately that I wasn’t staying the second I walked in. It was like something off ‘Kitchen Nightmares.’ The fridges stank and were clearly improperly stacked, so they were dangerous to boot. The ‘Head Chef’ I was supposed to work under greeted me and showed me around the dingy kitchen. His whites were stained and filthy and given this was 8 am, they clearly hadn’t been washed in some time. Grease and dirt were everywhere with no ventilation and broken equipment.
So he showed me the menu, and with no explanation or description of how to do certain tasks (like spice mixes for example), he told me to do the meats for lunch. I went to the meat fridge and saw at least half the meat was off so I called him over to show him the green slimy pork and beef rotting in its own blood. His face changed immediately and stated bluntly, ‘It’s fine, slice it down and no-one will notice.’ Obviously, I refused and went and grabbed a bin. He grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back, ‘You throw that out you’re fired. You’re not wasting that!’
I went and picked up my knives, toolbox, and car keys and walked out. I got a call from the manager berating me for leaving and how disappointed she was for hiring me. I told her the problems I found and I wasn’t in the business of attempted murder and hung up.
I then called the Environmental Health Office (Here In Northern Ireland, if a chef calls they are generally down in a few hours). They asked me to meet them there and show them the problems. I had never seen a place get shut down as fast in my life! Within half an hour, the manager had a written document of closure and had to testify in court due to reckless endangerment charges as well as a litany of other illegal infractions.”
It Was Either Leave Or Continue To Vomit Throughout The Restaurant
“I was working in a restaurant where the managers didn’t like to give anyone time off. I was sick but knew that management would get all bent out of shape if I called in sick, so I showed up at 8 am, sick as a dog. By 9 am, I knew I wasn’t going to last the rest of the day, but my managers still made me stay.
Around 9:30, I was pre-bussing my tables and just the sight of half-eaten food pushed me over the edge. Somehow, I managed to hold my vomit until I got to the dishwashing area but puked in a trashcan immediately after putting my plates down.
A coworker saw me and vouched for me when I went to tell my manager I was leaving for the doctor. He said, ‘Even with a doctor’s note, if you leave work today, you’ll be fired.’
I said, ‘You have human waste in a kitchen trashcan and haven’t even done anything about it, it’s on camera, I’m leaving.’
I showed up for work a few days later and didn’t hear anything about it. Ended up quitting a few weeks later for a job at a couple considerably higher scale restaurant.”
Well, That’s One Way To Get A Raise
“The first kitchen I worked in, they told me the more jobs I learned, the more I’d get paid (came in basically knowing all of it anyway). Six months later, I had learned every job there except for one. They told me if I learned that spot, I’d get a raise. I told them I could find a new kitchen and that I was told the more I learned, the more I’d get paid, and I still hadn’t been given a raise. The head chef cracked and gave me a raise. I told him 50 cents wasn’t enough. He was forced to give me another.
Two weeks after that, they fired the banquet chef’s assistant (we had a lot of 300+ people events) and told the banquet chef to pick his new assistant; he immediately requested me. I told them I needed another raise. I was told no again, so I said I would have to find a new job. I came in the next day and put in my two-weeks notice. I wound up making more money in that kitchen than anyone besides the banquet chef and the head chef.
That’s how I wound up getting three raises in one month.”
All He Could Do Was Walk Out, What Happened After Surprised Him
“I’m sure everyone’s had that tyrannical boss who was so obsessed with power that everyone hated him and he felt like that was a sign that he was doing a good job, right?
About 20 years ago, I was working as a delivery driver at a Pizza Hut and they brought in a manager who couldn’t seem to get along. The area supervisor point blank told me that he was on his last leg and if he caused any problems, they were going to let him go. I was kind of the lead driver, no title or extra pay, but I was the one who trained new drivers, and for some reason, this guy decided I needed to be taken down a notch. He just harassed me and was on my case constantly. Surely the office told him he needed to adjust his attitude, but I’m not sure if this guy was capable.
One day, I told him to get lost, I was more valuable to the store than he was, and if he really wanted to show ‘who’s in charge,’ he should learn how to do his job better. He flew into a rage, swept a big stack of lids off of a shelf and ordered me to rewash them and put them away. I just punched out and went home (it was the middle of the afternoon and I was the only driver at the time).
About 30 minutes later, I got a call from the supervisor telling me to come back because they were ‘taking care of things.’ Got back just in time to see him sulking off with his termination papers.
I don’t typically take pleasure in other people’s pain, but it actually felt pretty good. I hope he learned his lesson, but somehow I doubt it.”
They Didn’t Get Paid Enough For This…
“I was 17 and working part-time at a fast food restaurant. Someone wrecked the men’s restroom. They crapped in the urinal and proceeded to rub it all over the wall. The manager came out and told me to clean it. I refused. She threatened to fire me, to which I laughed in her face and told her, ‘You can clean it yourself or you can lose an employee and still clean it yourself. I don’t need this job.’
Needless to say, I wasn’t fired and I didn’t clean that up. I still laugh thinking about it.”
One Phone Call Brought It All Crashing Down
“I used to work in a chain pastry store that’s quite popular in the United Kingdom. In my branch, I was the only team member that picked up overtime, the only member who showed up on time, and the only member who actually worked hard. I was ill twice in the whole year that I worked there, and my boss said that I wasn’t allowed any holiday when my contract said that I was allowed it.
This boss always left early and never clocked out when he left, so the system would automatically clock him out at the end of his contracted hours for the day, so as you can tell, I was not happy. The other manager was a bully and picked on me nonstop, and when I reported her to the lazy boss, he told me that if I reported her to HR, he would have me fired. I laughed in his face and told him, ‘Go ahead, but good luck finding another employee like me in this circus of a town.’ Then I called HR in front of him reporting him and the other manager and quit on the spot. I received $200 in compensation for the bullying and the money I should have had from the paid holiday. When I handed my uniform in the next day, the look on the manager’s face was priceless.
Last I heard, they were still being investigated by the corporate office.”
“You Can Fire Me, But I’m Not Cleaning It”
“I worked a Burger King as a teenager. One day, the assistant manager, who illegally brought her teenage daughter to work to help her out, asked me to clean the restrooms. It wasn’t my normal job, but I didn’t mind.
I walked into the men’s room and discovered that she asked me to do it because someone crapped all over the bathroom. Smeared fecal matter on the walls, the sink, the floor, the outside of the toilet. The toilet was clogged and had wet, used toilet paper inside it and all over the room. It was a complete disaster.
I walked out of the bathroom, went back to the kitchen and told the assistant manager, ‘I’m not cleaning that. You can fire me, but I’m not cleaning it.’ She sighed heavily and went and got a mop.”
It Seems Like This Was A Long Time Coming
“I worked at a Cheeburger Cheeburger for five years out of high school while I got my degree. I started as a dishwasher, and by year three, I was the shift leader and working the grill on rushes. During the holiday season, we would do anywhere from $9,000 to $11,000 a day for a 25-table restaurant, which meant we always had a line out the door.
For our shifts, we would generally have four people working. One on the grill, one on the fryer, one doing the bun setup, and one dropping buns to toast. On this particular night, I had the three dumbest people at the restaurant. These people were restaurant lifers who just didn’t have a good work ethic.
During the height of the rush, I had at least 15 tickets on the grill with at least 10 hanging on the ticket machine. We were always told to keep tickets to 15 minutes. The three potatoes I was working with were helping, but not keeping up. As the grill guy, I needed to constantly turn around and start making buns to help them keep up.
I LOVE the owners of this place. They were kind to me and continue to help if I ever need a recommendation for anything. The manager on staff at the time, however, was a 55-year-old woman who seemed upset at herself at the fact she managed a small restaurant.
She proceeded to storm back to the line and scream in my face: ‘THE LAST TWO TICKETS WERE 18 MINUTES, ANDY! GET IT TOGETHER OR GO HOME!’
I looked at her and said, ‘I’m doing the best I can with what I got, Mary.’
She responded with: ‘Well, your best isn’t good enough.’
Oh. Okay. Guess we’re doing it this way then.
I looked her square in her stupid face and said, ‘If you can do better, go ahead. I bet you can’t though.’ And I stood there and stared at her. It felt like an hour, but someone else on shift said it was about 15 seconds of us just staring at each other, as the kitchen went to crap around us.
Mary said nothing and walked away. Never heard another word about and worked there for another two years.”
He Tried To Play Nice, But Enough Was Enough
“I was hired on as a part-time assistant manager, and then immediately told I would be working part-time at two different restaurants. I knew things were shady as soon as they gave me two separate paychecks.
Then, less than a month later, they had someone go on vacation and needed me to cover their shifts. Suddenly, I was working 80-hour weeks. At the end of the pay period, I took my checks into the office and asked why I why I wasn’t being paid overtime. They said that they weren’t required to pay overtime because technically I worked two jobs. I looked them in the eye and said, ‘This is my two weeks notice for one of my jobs.’ They said they needed someone that worked two. ‘Are you formally telling me that my employer requires me to keep two separate payrolls so that you aren’t required to pay me overtime?’ They said they couldn’t afford to pay me overtime and I stood my ground and told them that I would work a maximum of 40 hours per week. After a brief back and forth, they agreed.
About a week later, another manager had a death in the family. They scheduled me for 80-hour weeks again without asking while the other manager took time off to grieve. Then, one day, one of the payroll people came by one of my restaurants and politely asked, ‘How are you?’
I said, ‘I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit stressed about the number of hours I’ve been working for the last couple of months.’
Then, she said, ‘You should be grateful you are getting paid.’ I immediately told her that wasn’t true, because I was owed for overtime and not receiving it and then called the office and informed them that they needed to either write me a check with back pay for all the overtime or reduce my hours to 40 hours per week by the end of the day. Then, I told them that if I ever saw a schedule that had me listed for even 41 hours, I would walk.
They met my demands in that they reduced my hours. I ended up quitting less than two months later because it was really a shady business.”
No One Could Believe What He Said, Not Even Him
“I was working at McDonald’s and had this manager (Hailey) that hated me for some reason.
So one shift, I was on the grill when Hailey came back and ordered me to make salads. I did as I was told and went into the cooler and got out the sack of salad ingredients and the plastic salad containers. I grabbed all of the necessary tools and started the long process of making the salads when Hailey popped up and told me to go on my 10-minute break.
When I got back, I found all of the salads completed and up in the salad cooler in the front of the store, so I went back to the grill. But after about 30 minutes, Hailey loudly called me into her office where she said, ‘When you made the salads today, you didn’t put the date or time on them, that is a clear violation of our procedures, so I am writing you up.’
She slid over a pink write up and asked me to sign and acknowledge that I understood that I did wrong and was being written up for it. We must sign these, and if we get three, we are fired. This was my first.
I looked at her thinking this was some kind of a joke, but she was dead serious. In front of the other manager who was sitting in the office at the time I realized, I give zero craps about this job, so I said, ‘Hailey, you made those salads, you are the one who didn’t put the time and dates on them not me, I am not signing that.’
And with that, I got up and went back to the grill. I heard nothing for the rest of my shift from Hailey. The other manager on duty said nothing either. My shift ended and I went up front to clock out. As I rounded the counter on my way out, Hailey stopped me.
‘Stop, we need to have a talk about your attitude today, please come back to the office.’
In front of customers, the other manager, and the rest of the staff, I replied from the other side of the counter, ‘Hailey, did you just see me clock out?’
She answered, ‘Yes,’ in her best trying to be an important McDonald’s manager voice.
So I said, ‘Good, once I clock out, I am on my time, I get to spend my time however I please, and I don’t care to discuss anything with you on my time. I work tomorrow morning at 6. When I clock in, I’ll be on your time and we can talk in the office as long as you would like. But for now, I’m leaving.’
And I left. The look of shock on her and everyone else’s face was adrenaline fuel. I felt great! I almost skipped the whole way home. I fully expected to be fired in the morning but Hailey was nowhere to be seen. Instead, another manager was on duty who I got along with great. And, incidentally, she hated Hailey as well. She pulled me aside early in my shift and said she heard about how well I had been doing from the other manager who was on duty yesterday and wanted to give me free lunch!
I never did hear about that write up ever again and I rarely heard from Hailey, even when we were scheduled together.”
Was He Fighting Back Or Just Too High To Understand?
“The guy who used to run the pizza station at my restaurant was a good worker. He was just about the only one left that rolled and made good pizza, but he was a huge stoner and always showed up high. My sous chef always thought he was doing lower quality work than everyone else because of appearances, but he was a great worker.
One day, he forgot to wrap some pizzas and they spoiled, and my boss felt like going off. He yelled at him for a long time and then told him he was fired. My coworker just looked him in the face and said, ‘You can’t even fire me,’ and just kept working for the rest of his shift. The next day, sous chef walked up with his boss, our department head. She listened to the entire story, said to remember to wrap the pizzas, and walked away.
I thought it was the funniest thing because if he’d accepted it and just gone home, he’d have definitely stayed fired. He just said, ‘No,’ to getting fired and worked there for another year.”
Better Have My Money
“When I was 17, I worked a summer holiday job at Pizza Hut in New Zealand. I had transferred to my home town restaurant from the location near my college.
I was there for five weeks and hadn’t been paid yet. The jerk of a boss claimed it was because I gave him the wrong employee number. I hadn’t.
After more than a month without pay, I rang him on New Year’s Eve (the busiest night of the summer) and said I wasn’t coming to work because I wasn’t a volunteer and I wasn’t going to work for free. He told me if I didn’t go to work, I may as well not come back as I would be fired.
I didn’t go to work and had a fun New Year’s Eve instead.
Then a few days later, I called the Employment Tribunal and told them what had happened. Then they called my boss. He then called me, offered me my job back and was nice as pie for the rest of the summer.”