Work Ethic Is Dying

*I wrote this in May, and for some reason, never posted it. In light of recent events not only in my life, but the entire country, I find it even more fitting now.

I need to bitch about something that speaks not only to employees working at minimum-wage jobs, but to our younger generation in general. It drives me absolutely crazy when someone doesn’t take their job seriously. Fast food employees are no exception. I choose to pick on them today because of the story I’m about to tell, my recent experience with a local Chipotle restaurant. However, this rant really speaks to everyone working at a minimum wage job. I am so sick of hearing the excuse that “it’s a fast food restaurant, they aren’t supposed to be hard-working” or “it’s a fast food employee, your expectations are too high”. This rant connects to a very current topic of conversation I’ve been reading about lately, which is raising the minimum wage. I’m already going in too many directions, because of how frustrated I am while writing this, so let me focus for a second here…

First, my recent Chipotle experience. My boyfriend had called to ask if I wanted dinner, and we decided on Chipotle. Risky business to begin with, what with all of the food poisoning outbreaks and whatnot, but we like to live dangerously. He stopped at the local restaurant and ordered me a veggie burrito bowl. Now I’m not a veggie burrito bowl kinda girl typically, but sometimes I like ordering this way because I get to load it up with all the extra goodies: guacamole, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, corn, salsa… plus I get the delicious grilled peppers and onions. So there you have it. Turns out, as my boyfriend continues to try and order my food, that this local Chipotle is “out” of virtually everything. No guacamole, no corn, and the tiniest amount of peppers and onions known to man. My boyfriend, bless his heart, is the nicest guy I know, and instead of asking for a manager (as I would’ve done) he pays for the food and then calls me to ask if he should stop at a different store. Now, at this point, it’s 7:30 PM, I haven’t had dinner yet, and I’m starving. My response is that he should just come home, I’ll eat whatever they made, and I’ll call the manager to discuss the issue. I open my bowl – and it’s as close to empty as possible. Some rice, some cheese, and some sour cream. End of bowl. Not exactly appetizing, right? After pulling the receipt out of the bag, I see that they still charged us the full amount for a bowl (including the cost of guacamole!) which totals almost ten dollars. I decide right then and there to call the manager and ask for a partial refund or credit for a future visit, as there’s no way I’m paying nine dollars for a scoop of rice. The manager is awful. First she admits to being in the back room on the phone during this entire interaction, but says I must be lying, because they haven’t run out of anything. Attempting to stay calm, I explain to her that we were never told to wait for a fresh batch of anything, and never offered a discount, and yet were still charged in full. A two minute discussion on my morals turns into a full-on attack, where I’m told, and I quote, “You’re either lying or you were at a different store”. No, ma’am, I’ve read you the receipt and you’ve acknowledged this is your employee. “Let’s just move on,” I say to her, feeling like the mother of a toddler, “I didn’t get what I paid for. Can you please refund something onto our credit card, or issue us a credit for the next time?” Her response was classic – just come back in and I’ll remake it. “I’m sorry, but I’m already home and your store isn’t exactly in my neighborhood. Can you please just make a note so that we can be refunded next time we stop in?” No. Turns out, this Chipotle won’t do anything to help you. Now, you would think with all of the bad publicity Chipotle has gotten lately, every member of the management staff at every store would be doing their absolute best when it comes to customer relations. I guess the management level employees don’t really care, either.

My boyfriend’s response, which I’m sure is the same as most of yours, is simple: it’s fast food. These places aren’t exactly known for employing rocket scientists. What did you expect?

I expected that I would be treated with the most standard level of customer service one can imagine. I expected that the job duties, which I’m sure were explained to the young lady who served us, were followed and observed. I am quite certain that the Chipotle New Hire Training Manual doesn’t say, “If you run out of an ingredient on the serving line, simply tell the customer you don’t have it, refuse to make any more, and continue to charge the customer as if they had received the item”.

Have we completely lost the “take pride in your work” mentality? I had to work some shitty jobs while I was in college – including Taco Bell and Payless Shoes – and I never half-assed my job. I dreaded being known as the employee who didn’t work hard. I would hate if my boss ever thought I didn’t take my job seriously or put in 100% effort while at work. I also viewed every job as a resume builder, and assumed that any potential new management would reach out to my old boss for a review.

Even if you don’t take pride in your job, can you at least do the bare minimum? Getting paid minimum wage sucks – I get it and I’ve been there. How can we argue that someone should make fifteen dollars an hour if they aren’t capable of charging me for the right taco ingredients? Now, I’m not a heartless fool who thinks nobody makes mistakes. The attitude when you make a mistake should be an apologetic one, if nothing else. I understand that you don’t care about my empty, expensive burrito bowl, but I do. You get your $9.00 an hour, whether you send me home with the right food or not, regardless of how much you charge me. I, however, am paying for a very specific product, and when you aren’t given that product, you can’t help but feel a little cheated. It’s a simple principle, and one that a straightforward apology fixes. I’ve had plenty of fast food mix-ups solved by an employee simply using the word “sorry”. If I was making a mistake at my company, I would want someone to let me know, as a way to keep the mistake from happening again. Good management, you would think, is appreciative of customers who point out flaws within the company, as good management sees these issues as potential points of improvement.

I am so sick of a generation of young adults who don’t care. I make this point (in relation to my rant theme) not because everyone working in fast food is a young adult – but because my bad experiences with customer service are almost always with those of the younger generation – my generation, sadly. I’ve been helped by older men and women in plenty of low-paying jobs and the experience is almost always entirely different. I am disgusted by the attitude of most twenty-somethings, who are looking for the biggest payout with the least amount of work. I envy my parents’ generation, and the generations before them, who liked to work. You may not have liked your job, but you enjoyed working. You earned a living, instead of just collecting a paycheck for showing up. Working two jobs was an accomplishment, not a burden. I am praying that this mentality can somehow find its way back into my generation of kids, whose combination of entitlement and laziness is so overwhelming it’s nauseating.

It shouldn’t matter if you are the President of a company, or the delivery boy dropping off the boxes in the alley – work hard. Take pride in your performance. Earn a living. Challenge yourself to improve your position not through chance or connections, but through serious hard work and perseverance. Fashion trends always seem to go in cycles – I hope our attitude towards work does, too.

One Reply to “Work Ethic Is Dying”

  1. I, too, had lost faith in the younger generation–until I began to read some of the literature coming out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s when I noticed that these young people think much the same as I did when I was young and in much the same shoes. And that they don’t think much different than I do now. These rough kids who stepped forward to man the walls against the screaming hoards restored my faith.

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