I’ve worked at the legislature, delivered subpoenas, and been a
morning radio show news and traffic girl and a talk radio producer.
I’ve been a “coffee girl,” media liaison and even worked for
the Olympics in Atlanta. Now, I am a writer and broadcast
journalist. I thought I’d done everything except swim with the
sharks and sell pharmaceuticals, but one thing I’d never attempted
was fast food – until now.
Let me start off by saying that I don’t eat fast food. Nor have I
ever had the desire to work at a fast food restaurant. Maybe it’s
a status thing. I just never pictured myself behind the counter
asking, “May I take your order?” I didn’t realize it before,
but I had serious stigmas attached to fast food. I thought it was
beneath me. I was wrong.
I was offered the opportunity to volunteer for a couple of hours,
serving burgers and fries at McDonald’s for World Children’s
Day. The global event raises millions for the Ronald McDonald House
Charities. Fifteen cents from specific meal deals and sandwiches go
directly to the charity, helping thousands of children and families.
How could I say no?
I showed up for duty expecting to be covered in grease and catsup by
the afternoon. Instead, the manager greeted me with a lei and a
smile and gave me a tour. “The cashier punches up the order
here,” she said. “Then it prints up back here.” “Chicken
patties stay warm under the heat lamps, but only for six minutes.
When the timers goes off, we dump them.” Wow. I was impressed. All
the sandwich buns are either steamed or toasted. There’s a timer
for those too. When the “DUMP” button lights up, the employee
throws them away. Everything is fresh and sanitary and orderly.
McDonald’s was nothing like the chaos of the newsroom I work in!
This is actually a place where everyone has a role, and everyone
knows what that role is! They work together like a single organism
rather than separate individuals.
I learned a lot about myself in those few hours: The importance of
non-judgment. I didn’t realize all the judgments I had about fast
food, and every single one of them was proved wrong that day. I
assumed fast food was old, sat out, and stale. I assumed workers
were lower class, probably unhappy and not efficient. I couldn’t
have been more wrong. McDonald’s could do corporate training! And
mostly, I learned I still have these hidden judgments about people
and places. I try to convince myself that I am above that ... But
– there are still some hidden. I am so grateful for the
opportunity to prove my own judgmental self wrong!
News 8’s evening newscaster Melisa Uchida is a Boston University