Food service workers deal with a lot on a day to day basis. Demanding customers, unreasonable bosses, environmental hazard, etc.... are some of the many ways that food service workers are tested on a day to day basis. These stories detail the breaking point of most of those workers, the moments that made them say, "Forget this, I'm out!" Content has been edited for clarity.
"I worked at a family owned restaurant as my first job. I had been there for four years. In the summer of 2003, my best friend needed surgery, he ended up getting some rare form of pneumonia and was in a medically induced coma. I went to see him every day at the hospital. I worked five days a week in the summer and everyday I came into work, my boss asked, 'How is your friend?' My dear friend died on a Thursday night, and his service was the following Monday, the only day of the week when I worked the day shift.
On Friday (my next shift), I immediately go to the owner and tell him my friend passed away and I can not work Monday morning. He. Went. Crazy. I should’ve called him last night (I was 17 and my best friend just died, why would I think to call him?). Then he said it: 'I don’t believe you, bring me the obituary and maybe you can get the afternoon off.'
I laughed, and said go die in a fire and walked out. His daughters called me, apologized, and asked for me to come back. I told them to die in a fire, too."
"I worked at Taco Bell for most of my senior year in high school. I was nearly always working the drive thru, but on my last day there, I was asked to clean the men’s bathroom. I wouldn’t ever complain about a request like that but I was condescendingly asked to do it by one of my least favorite managers (I had several since I worked lots of different shifts), which made it a little more annoying to do.
I walked in to find the nastiest feces explosion in the stall. Would estimate only 10% of it actually made it into the god forsaken bowl. Managed to fully cover almost half of the floor and even some of the wall, though.
I left the bathroom, clocked out immediately and never looked back."
"I work in a restaurant as a waiter and as such I get paid $2.13/hour + tips - (%total sales) for tip out. I had come in and our To-go person for the night had walked out because the kitchen manager was horrible and was harassing him (pretty much called him a useless worm). Cut to 5 minutes after To-go guy walked out, the manager on duty asked me to fill in as To-go for the night.
Now you'd assume they'd pay you at least the starting wage for To-go ($9/hour) and I had worked there for 2 years already. But, alas, no. My paycheck for 38 hours was a total of $1.21.
I addressed the general manager about this and apparently it was never recorded that I worked to-go, and as such I wasn't going to be reimbursed. 3 weeks later, the next To-go person quits and and I'm asked again to fill in... I said not unless you clock me out and clock me back on as a To-go person. The manager said she'd do it later on at the end of the night, I told her I wouldn't do it unless she did it immediately. She apparently wasn't asking. Eff that place, and every manager there."
"I worked at Baskin Robbins and we had an awful manager/owner who treated us like complete garbage. One day, a woman came into our store and ordered a one-scoop sundae ( this cost roughly $5.99 at the time). Only after we had made her the sundae and rang her up did she present us with a coupon for $1 off any sundae but it had expired in 1991 (for context, this was happening around 2015 or 2016).
When my coworker apologized and said we couldn’t take the coupon, the woman flipped out and started cursing at us, claiming that it was illegal for us to not take her coupon because coupons never legally expire. We asked her to calm down because there were kids in the store, and she demanded we call our owner, which we did just to placate her. Being the absolute prick that he is, he told us that we were costing him business by upsetting a customer and that he was going to take the price of the sundae off my coworker’s paycheck and that he was going to get an official write-up for being rude to a customer. After hearing this, my coworker left the phone hanging from the wall, took off his apron, and calmly flipped the lady off as he walked out of the store. I had to work a busy summer night alone and ended up staying two hours late to close everything and clean the store. The whole night I wished I had the courage to do something like that. I’ve never seen or heard from him again but he will forever be a legend in my mind."
"I worked at a fast food restaurant as a teenager. It was a locally owned, small business, not franchise. The owners were also the chef and manager; they were first generation immigrants from Korea. They barely spoke any English, and did a lot of stuff that uh...wasn't exactly up to OSHA guidelines. We had a health inspection once while I was there, and that was when I realized they actually knew they were violating health and safety code, because they had me spend all day cleaning the day before. Some of the stuff that I saw while I was there:
'Thawing chicken' by leaving it on a cutting board on top of an open trash can all day long
Leafy greens in the fridge under raw chicken. No shelf between them, mind you; we're talking a tub of greens with a half-zipped gallon ziplock full of chicken just sitting on top of the lettuce
Re-using single use gloves. Each employee was allowed 1 glove per day.
They actually did use a probe thermometer to check meat temps... But they never cleaned the probe after. Just wiped it off at the end of the day... On their apron.
All dishes were done by hand... But the water heater was so small that by the time we were half-way through the dishes, we'd have no hot water left, meaning half the dishes wound up improperly cleaned.
The last straw for me was when I caught a bad cold, and they first accused me of lying, insisting I was actually hung over. I told them I'd never even been inebriated (which was true. I was a straight-edge teenager, I spent my free time watching anime and playing video games.) And again, they said I was lying, but angrily gave me the day off as long as I promised to be in the next day. When I came in next, they told me that from then on there would be no sick days; I had to come in no matter how sick I was. I said, and I quote, '... No. Eff that, that's illegal. In fact, bite me, you're going to get someone killed the way you run this place. I'm done, I quit! Goodbye.'
As I walked out the door I heard them yelling something about 2 weeks notice, but I wasn't going back to listen to it."
"I worked at Sonic drive-in way back after high school. I worked there for around two years and only got around a 10¢ raise in that time; meanwhile I got bumped up to head cook and I was the opening cook that did all the morning prep work (onion rings, fryers, burrito mix, etc.).
One morning, I opened with the owner (who occasionally worked a manager shift) and asked him if I could have a moment of his time, he said sure. I said, 'Billy, I've worked here for a while now and in that time, my responsibilities have increased, I am head cook, I open for you almost every day and am your go-to guy for picking up short notice shifts. I think that since I am reliable and work beyond my pay rate that I deserve a bit extra pay.'
He appeared to think for a few seconds then replied, 'You know what, Andrew, you're right... Minimum wage goes up next month, there's your raise.'
I replied, 'Welp, eff you Billy,' then took off my apron and threw it as I stormed out. I didn't even start my prep work on that day and it was a Sunday, Sundays are typically the busiest days because of all the church goers. One of my buddies worked there also, he told me they tried to call him in and he told them heck no and quit with me. We heard a while later that the restaurant got smashed that day.
The thing about it that really outraged me about the entire situation was that the owner would constantly brag about how well the restaurant was doing and every Christmas he would come in when we reopened with all of the little toys that he bought himself and his family to show off how fortunate he was with his new cars, motorcycles, and MacBooks, etc..."
"In college, I got a job working for Freshii in Ottawa, helping set up their newest store.
Problem was, the boss had no idea about proper food handling. There would be expired meat, no temperature control, and items listed as 'keep frozen' being left in the fridge to defrost days ahead of when it would be used. Not to mention, all of the produce used was cheap garbage. I thought, 'Whatever, I'm just here to work over the summer, save my money and I'll quit when I go back to school in September.'
Two weeks before I'm due back in school, I just lost it. The franchise owner is using the food prep table as his office - laptop, bag, jacket, money, papers all over the place, and I'm expected to begin prepping all the produce for the lunch rush alongside that huge mess.
Years later, they featured that location on an episode of Undercover Boss and I noticed he wasn't included, so I felt some what vindicated but he's probably still there.
Also if you're in Ottawa and eat at Freshii - DON'T get Salmon. It comes in cooked, frozen, and is garbage. You can do better for the premium prices they charge."
"In high school I was a nanny for this family during the day. Then the mom would drop me off at Cold Stone - my first 'real job.' The assistant manager who was always there was a completely horrid person. Looking back she had to have been under 24 at the time. She was rude, went in back smoked pot on job, invited guys to come and hang with her and they were always kinda sketchy. She had it out for me because I was the 'first time employee who was trying to do a great job!'. I remember dreading going to work and getting that pit in my stomach because I was so terrified of her. She would always threaten to cut my hours or just do things to mess me up.
One day, the mom was late to get me and drop me off at work. She came in with me because she knew I was scared of this girl and would get yelled at. She went up and apologized for me, said it was completely her fault, I nanny her kids, she got stuck in traffic, it won't happen again, but please don't take it out on me.
This girl lost her mind!! She called the mom a hag to her face told her to eff off and went on some rant that I don't remember because I was in utter shock. The mom looked at me and said, 'You done here? I think you're done here.' Turns to this crazy girl and goes, 'You are the rudest person I've ever met. I'm sorry for how insecure you must be to act like this. She quits!' She grabbed my arm and we stormed out! I was SHOCKED and horrified... at the time I thought she had ruined my career by quitting my first job for me. Looking back I think its hysterical and wish I had a recording of it."
"This happened years ago while I was working at a Safeway in the produce department. I worked from 1:30pm-10pm three days a week. After 4pm, I was alone in the department and as it got later in the evening, I would spend my time helping the night manager with his duties because everything in my area was handled. I would help check customers out when needed, stock other departments and clean the warehouse all while keeping my department perfect.
I asked the store manager for more hours after about two months of doing this extra work, and she told me, 'If you worked harder, I would consider it.' So I turned around, clocked out, and never came back."
"I worked for my favorite restaurant. The pizza was to die for but the management and work environment was toxic. I was new there and had tried making friends with the other employees but their cliques were just impenetrable. They were rude and said horrible things about each other behind their backs. They would talk about other people’s personal lives right on of me as if I wasn’t even there.
I had a seizure and had to call out of work because it took a lot out of me. When I returned to work a few days later, one of my fellow kitchen workers informed me that another coworker was berating me behind my back about it and saying that it’s not worth asking me to cover any shifts because I’m 'probably going to call out any way.' This was the first time I had ever called out.
I approached this coworker to find out why she was saying those things about me. I needed all the shifts I could get and her saying that was hurting my chances. When I questioned her, she let me know that she already knew I had a seizure. I was confused. According to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), medical information can only be passed along to other managers or staff that needed to know. This person wasn’t either of those things. She continued to tell me that my boss not only told her about my seizure but that she told the entire kitchen staff that was there that day. Which was about 8 people that didn’t need to know that I had a seizure.
I found a new job and quit with a 1 week notice. My boss expressed her anger with me through text and I expressed my anger with her for violating HIPAA. She apologized.
I had to quit because I should never work at a place that leads to me taking breaks to cry. The HIPPA violation was the last straw."
"On my last day working at Wendy's for day shift, another employee broke the frying machine when I was away and grease started spilling on the floor and they blamed it on me even though when it happened, I was in the freezer doing something else. We even have CCTV cameras show that I didn't break the fryer but they still blamed it on me and made me clean it up.
I tried to explain to my managers that I didn't know who did it, but they just called me a liar and screamed it's coming out of my check. In the middle of my cleaning up the grease the manager for the night shift (I was on day shift) told me to just leave and she'll clean it up. I knew this was a red flag because she literally did nothing besides sit in the office on her phone and periodically come out of the office to tell us some nonsense.
Eventually I left, and when I came back the next day some of the employee from the night shift started attacking me when they came in because they said I just left without cleaning up the grease and they were forced to do it. Turns out when the night shift manager asked me to leave and stuff, she'll clean up the grease, she didn't and she lied on me and said that I just left without cleaning up the mess. When I heard this, I was so outraged but then again not surprised as well. I grabbed my things and I never came back even though I was scheduled to work the rest of that week."
"My first intern position at a failing lunch cafe.
It was a small place that had been open for several years and maintained by two owners, one of whom knew what they were doing and one who was absolutely clueless. The owner with the know-how sold their share to the clueless one after getting fed up and the clueless one ran the place on their own when I got hired as an intern.
The kitchen was miniscule. They’d stuffed as much in there as they could, but only two people could work there comfortably. Most days there were three people, and the head chef would get crabby about the fact that there were too many people in their way. The owner didn’t understand it and made shifts so that when I was supposed to switch with the other hire, they would always come in an hour early before my shift ended.
One day, during a surprising lunch rush, we were serving freshly fried vendace. There was only a small grill in the corner of the kitchen, and the head chef was in control of it. Then something came up and they had to leave that position to take care of something else and I had to take turns with the other hire grilling the fish. The head chef apparently thought we were too slow and blew a gasket. They would shout and berate us for the rest of the shift for being 'Too effing slow' and 'not knowing what the heck you’re even doing!'
That was the moment I thought, 'Forget this, I’m out.' I would not be berated and talked down to like that for something I was doing for the first time without hardly any instructions on how to do it quickly and efficiently.
So I didn’t renew my contract after the three months were up (the incident happened about two weeks before the contract ended), and looked for a new place, which I found a few days later. In this new place, I got real hands on experience in kitchen work, they taught me the basics and then some. I lasted in this lunch cafe for nine months before venturing to culinary school (I graduated two years ago as a chef, by the way).
The first lunch place ran for about a year, before the owner admitted it wasn’t working and sold it to someone else. That new place lasted about three years and is closing in January."
"Worked in a McDonald's and my (ex) friend became a manager. I was born with severe bunions in my feet meaning I experience pain from standing too long. I was having a particularly bad day with pain that day because my work shoes were soaked due to a leak in my house, causing me to have to wear my old, worn out, broken down, ones. They had holes in them, too. Let's just say physical disfigurement and broken down support don't match up. I was on the edge of tears, having to sit down and massage my feet, and so I call my manager to the back and ask to go home early, which sometimes happens due to crippling sickness or pain. My manager, being my ex friend, walks up to me, sees that I'm almost crying, and does two things.
She sits down next to me and tries to give me a pep talk that I can work through a disfigurement.
She points at her freaking Adidas and says, 'Listen, You know these shoes have too much arch for my feet, but I just have to deal with the ache, and I think you really should, too.'
I just stare at her and actually started crying and just saying that it is not the same thing, and she just freaking leaves the break room.
If I hadn't carpooled to work I would've just left.
The next awful day I work with her, I ask to talk to her and explain why I wanted to just leave like a dang adult, and say I want an apology. I get her talking about how being a manager is stressful and how I shouldn't be mad she compared a BLOODY DISFIGUREMENT TO AN UNCOMFORTABLE SHOE. I proceed to say, SEVERAL TIMES that I just wanted an apology, and after realizing I'm just that stubborn that she has to admit she did something wrong she won't even look me in the eye when she says 'I'm sorry. '(She cried because I yelled at her and guilt tripped me about it after). I grab my stuff and say it's too dang late and just went back home.
For background, I had already put in my 2 weeks before I left, so I really didn't care at all because I was leaving the shift, especially since it had enough people. She was also my friend. I had explained how hard it is to not be able to do anything and being talked down to because of it at least 4 times with her beforehand, so this is completely ridiculous. She knew how many times I had to hear, 'Listen honey, I know it hurts but you just have to tough through this.' and how much it made me feel like a useless piece of garbage who couldn't do anything because of something I didn't even choose to have. Let's just say I hate her now."