The people who make and serve our food work in high stress low pay situations. They deal with unreasonable customers, bosses who can be mean, low pay, bad benefits, and all the like. Sometimes the stress becomes too much and people can't take it. These are their stories.
"I was working at a restaurant that was, to put it bluntly, completely and utterly atrocious. The place was almost always dead apart from the owner's friends who would make it their life’s mission to be incredibly rude to myself and other staff members. Somehow I stuck it out for six months.
The final straw came at Christmas when I wanted to travel back home to spend time with my family (as my grandmother was sick at the time), and their response was ‘you have to decide what’s more important, your job or your family.’
I told them that was the dumbest question I’ve ever been asked and walked out."
"I was working at Chipotle. Some of the managers are extreme narcissists, especially when hired from outside because they've never had to go through a proper training. They'd just spout the book and tell you rules or instructions that they themselves could never adhere to.
One time, after my wife and son had spent a combined 13 weeks in the prenatal ward and newborn intensive care unit, I was working 'clopen' shifts, which meant I left about midnight, and returned at 7:30 am. As a rule, each PIECE of barbacoa beef or carnitas is supposed to be shredded to the size of a tooth pick. Yes, every piece. Also, you get five minutes to shred 2.5 pounds of it that way. When you're the only cook, you're cooking chicken, steak, barbacoa beef, carnitas, rice, beans, as well as simultaneously making sure nothing on the line is low. It's a two-person job, and I was doing it alone.
It was the middle of a lunch rush, with a line clear out the door. My manager came to me, with a salsa cup size of barbacoa beef that wasn't shredded to 'tooth pick size,' and said I was getting written up. I took the cup off the counter and launched it into his face. I grabbed my stuff, and when I was walking out the door, he had the audacity to ask me to stay since 'Nobody can do the job like you.' Yeah, I'm well aware idiot. Now you get to train and pay two people to do my job. He and the assistant manager were both fired a few months later for firing and harassing employees without following protocol."
"When I first moved to New York City, I got a bartending job at a pub in Williamsburg. The manager was always missing in action and the staff was usually left to their own devices. One weekend a huge blizzard hit the city. I had made it into work when the city declared a state of emergency and started shutting down the trains. I called my manager to tell them the trains were shutting down and the staff wanted to leave to catch the last trains home before it was too late. He said no and told us all to stay.
At this point, the snow was getting deep enough to make opening the front door difficult. I texted my manager that we were leaving, and we packed up and closed the store. The next morning the manager texted to say that we were opening for brunch despite all the trains being shut down. I told him I couldn’t make it in, so he said he would come pick me up in his car and asked for my address. I gave him a fake address, turned off my phone, went back to bed and found a new job later that week."
"I was working as a short-order cook at a pub and got slammed. Ran out of everything because day prep didn't. Asked the General Manager at the time to come online and back me up, to which she replied, 'I'm counting my cash out. Deal with it.'
I let that sink in for about two minutes, then said, 'I'm out, I can't handle this nonsense. Cook your own terrible food.' I tossed my tongs backwards over my head and walked off-line. The General Manager (with whom I already had a rocky relationship) followed me back and asked, 'Did you tell me to cook for myself?' incredulous and panicking, because we had three cooks, total, and I was the full-timer (aside from the general manager).
I started changing and chewed her out for being a horrible manager and told her any manager worth their salt would have stuffed their cash in their pockets, come behind the line and ask, 'What can I do to help?'
Got a $2/hr raise and a lot more respect after that. Only lasted another couple of months before I quit for a much better job in a much better restaurant."
"I was a server in a fine-dining restaurant in a very foodie town. I had only a been there a few months, but so far things seemed to be going well. I had a table of really friendly, funny men. One of them had chewing gum in his mouth, and at the very beginning of their seating as I was pouring waters, asked for a napkin to throw it away. I said of course I would get that for him.
I forgot to get the napkin for him.
Oh well, I was busy and this table was having a great time anyway. They had two bottles of sherry on my recommendation, ordered the food I recommended, and we were laughing and sharing stories. Everything was going great. They loved me, they're having a great time. Suddenly, I realize as I'm talking to the man with the gum earlier, that I had forgotten his napkin. I mentioned it and apologized, I take pride in remembering everything. He laughed it off. No big deal. He had disposed of it in the bathroom.
Apparently my manager overheard the part of the conversation where I mentioned I'd forgotten the napkin, and nothing else.
After we close, he pulls me into his office with other management present, and proceeds to write me up because, 'We don't forget things.'
The table had left a 25% tip, and like I said had a wonderful time. He never even bothered to talk to them while they were there. I pointed out if he was so concerned with their experience, why did he not ask the guests themselves?
He said something like, That's not the point.'
I quit so hard. Giant 'EFF YOU' echoing down the stairwell to the locker room.
The next day I checked the reviews for the restaurant online. The table of fun gentleman had left a wonderful review, mentioning me by name. Felt good, man.
The next day I checked the reviews for the restaurant online. The table of fun gentleman had left a wonderful review, mentioning me by name. Felt good, man."
"Worked at a Red Lobster for a few years in college. Didn't really have any complaints, it was what it was. Right after graduating I moved to another town and was able to transfer to one near my new location.
Worst experience of my life. Horrible management, and the location was in a relatively upscale part of town, so there were MUCH better alternatives for seafood so the customers were always awful as well.
We were required to be in 15 minutes prior to the start of our shift for a pre-shift meeting and change over and stuff. Thing is, you couldn't clock in until 5 minutes before your scheduled start time. Like every other terrible company Darden (The owner of Red Lobster, also a VERY terrible company to work for), wanted to run skeleton crews to save money so we were always scrambling. So often I would come in and I would already have seated tables (plural) waiting for me. The host managers mentality was 'well they need to be here 15 minutes early anyway so if they can seat them 15 minutes early'. Nothing seemed to ever clarify why this was wrong on many levels.
Well one day I came in and already had a seated table. Went over and greeted them immediately (They were upset but understanding) and then went to the bar to ask them to make some drinks (I couldn't enter them in the system since I couldn't clock in yet). While I was waiting for the drinks I was venting to a fellow server about it and mentioned 'If they seat me again before I can even clock in I'm done'. Well before I could even finish the sentence they had seated me again. I told the server I was talking to it was nice to have worked with them, made sure to let BOTH tables know they were seated in a section that didn't even have a server yet because the company didn't want to pay for a full staff and that they should dine at restaurants that care about them having a good experience, and walked out. No regrets and I'll never give Darden a dime of my money ever again."
"When I was 17 I worked at Little Caesars making the pizzas. One Friday night I show up for my regular shift and find out that not only were we short a person, but they had put the brand-new girl with one day of training on the cash register. Ok, not panicked yet, manager always pitches in and the other staff had been there about a month so between the four of us I knew we would be scrambling, but would survive.
Things start getting busy, this was back in the 'Pizza, Pizza!' days, so every order was at least two pizzas. I can hear the manager in the back talking to the other employee, they were both middle-aged women, about her conquest at the bar last night. The poor cashier asks for help and the lobby is starting to fill up. Manager yells from back that she will be right there. I'm actually keeping up with the pizza orders but the cashier is at a complete stand still so pizzas are stacking up. I call for help again and get the same answer. So now I'm showing the new girl what she did wrong on the cash register, handing out pizzas, making pizzas, cutting up and boxing pizzas on the busiest night of the week, people are literally packed into our lobby. I again ask for help and the manager storms around the corner followed by the other staff and yells at me, 'This is my store! If you don't like it you can leave.'
I know full well no one there that night could have kept up with what I was doing. Not only was she not appreciative of my efforts, but she yelled at me. I looked at her, I looked at the crowd in the lobby, and they're are all frozen in shock, I look back at my manager and see the shock on her face as she realized how many people were waiting for their pizza. I took my apron off and laid it on the prep counter, literally handed the pizza cutter to the manager and walked out. I didn't have to say a word, the customers start in on the manager. 'Why would you chase off the only person doing anything?!' And, 'I've been waiting 25 minutes! And you fire the guy making pizzas!' made up a majority of the comments.
The aftermath was nice; I called the district manager, who had been our store manager when I started. I didn't get him but left a voice mail. Found out later from other staff that they had to have 3 managers come in from surrounding stores to help the rest of the night. The Manager was demoted the following week and sent to another store. Thankfully I never heard from her again and I never worked fast food again."
"I worked as a frozen food stocker, but occasionally worked the register from time to time. The frozen food manager made like over $20 an hour and I was making not even half that (I was 17 at the time). Our front end manager was a 16-year-old kid, let’s call him Greg, and he was an entitled idiot. So I basically had the same responsibilities as my frozen food manager and I would control the whole section while she was on vacation.
One night working a late shift (2-11), I was extremely busy in my department and knew I wasn’t going to get everything finished, but I was hoping to get the important stuff taken care of for the next day. Greg tries to get me to go outside and be a cart boy, since the bagger who was scheduled was nowhere to be found in the store. I told him no, since I had my own department to deal with and there were plenty of people on the clock who were capable of getting the carts. We had a lot of cashiers scheduled, plus it was a slower night than usual. He basically said I had to listen to him and or go home. So I finished what I was currently doing at the time and left.
Next day I show up for work and immediately was called to the store managers office and was asked very rudely why I did not listen to Greg the night before. Explained my whole view of it all and he still took side with Greg. Already furious with the management, told the store manager (who was also a complete sociopath) to go off himself and that Greg banged someone in his office ( which actually did happen since the kid bragged to everyone about it).
Never regretted it since and found a job that treats me like family, and now have several best friends who I’m extremely close with."
"I had a job in a salad plant (those bags of salad mix a lot of restaurants use.) I was there for two weeks coring lettuce: in front of a conveyor belt, eight hours a day, pick up a head, slam it, pull the core, put it down, next. You talk to your co-workers or you plot the downfall of Western civilization. One really sweet lady had been there for 10 years. 10 years on the lettuce line. She got called into the office and was gone for about half an hour. She said 'I won't be here tomorrow. I got promoted!' I asked what she'd be doing. 'Cabbage!'
I wished her well, dropped my gear right then and there and walked out. I feel bad about not telling anyone I was quitting, but I was young and, well, 10 years for cabbage!
That was 29 years ago. Had I stayed I might be up to carrots by now. I sometimes wonder how my life might be different had I stayed, and in those moments I celebrate every decision I've ever made"
"Worked for a soda plant. For two years I was the best worker there. I know this due to the daily reports. I carried my team and other teams and only had two raises. I would sit on a raise for about 6 months and finally get it but my other quarterly raises would be ignored since 'I just got a raise'
Well after 2 years I went up 50c while other people who didn't work at all had multiple raises and been there only a few months.
They thought that giving raises to slow workers would mean they would work harder. The hard workers already work hard so who cares.
I never got promoted officially. Never got a raise after year one. Worked 60 hours a week and never called off. My production was twice the average guy and never appreciated.
Well someone left and a position was up for promotion. I didn't even apply, but they told me in a few weeks I'll be moved into the new spot. So I busted my rear for a few weeks to let them know why I really deserve the position.
My last day at the bottom and I'm finally moving up I get prepared for my new spot. I come in the next day, and they hired a guy off the street for the new spot and told me they changed their mind. I argued with the top managers, telling them if they don't promote me I will quit. They told me I needed to change my attitude and that's why they didn't promote me.
My attitude was the quiet guy who worked hard every day. I back talk AFTER they lied to me and watched me work hard for weeks letting me think I was getting moved up.
They said I won’t quit because I need them. I told them give me the promotion right now or I leave. The manager walked out in the middle of that sentence. I dipped and never regretted it."
"Worked at a small restaurant/bar in high school as a dishwasher with two of my friends. One was hot side cook, the other was cold side. The three of us were the entire kitchen staff on Fridays and Saturdays.
One Friday night we were getting slammed and after repeatedly asking for help, the Manager basically told me to 'suck it up.' I was 15, went to school that day and hadn't had a break since arriving at the restaurant 5 hours earlier. Waitress came in and dropped another huge bin of dishes and gave me this dirty look like she thought it was funny that we were in the weeds. I walked into the Managers office and told him I quit on the spot. He was in the middle of his 'don't burn bridges' speech when my buddy the cold side cook came in and quit. My hot-side cook friend came in immediately after and hung up his apron because he was our ride.
The manager legitimately cried. That guy was such a prick, if he had gotten off of his rear to help us at any point none of us would have quit that night. He had no kitchen staff other than his chef for Saturday night. The place closed a few years later."
"I worked in a kitchen at an Irish Pub in small town Colorado. We had a guy who worked his way up from bartender to General Manager. He was a nasty, mean, hammered out of his mind half the time, loud dude. I mean this guy was either on 1 or 10, no in-between.
So we're in the kitchen getting set up for lunch, and apparently it was really busy the day before, and we had some late ticket times in the kitchen due to lack of preparation. Nothing horrible, just some things out of place. The boss walks in, and screams, 'Alright! I want EVERYTHING set up well. NOTHING will make you have to go back into the walk-in. I don't want to hear about anything not being ready on the line!'
So we're in top gear getting this line set up. We got all the bread, potatoes, meats and veggies and the like set up. Everything looks good, awesome. The lunch crowd starts rolling in and I don't have BBQ sauce, which just ruined everything. So I get over to the walk-in, grabbed some, went right back into the kitchen to finish this chicken sandwich. Suddenly the boss walks in and asks me, 'Where is that chicken sandwich!?'
I told him, 'I've got it right here, just had to grab some BBQ sauce.'
'I SAID I WANTED EVERYTHING READY TO GO WHY IS THERE NO BBQ SAUCE ON THE STUPID LINE FOR CHRIST SAKE LISTEN TO MY ORDERS YOU GODDA-' I walked out as he was yelling and never went back again.
So I guess absolutely blowing up over BBQ sauce was the last straw for me."
"I worked in an independent cafe as the lone chef. Hours were good, free rein with the menu was great and the quality of produce that came in was second to none. Unfortunately, the owner had misplaced aspirations towards being a chef and instead of hiring help, ran the kitchen himself on my day off.
After repeated conversations about food safety and his apparent lack of care for customers well-being, I came in after my day off to find a single thigh of chicken saran wrapped together with ready to eat ham. I told him this wasn't safe and if he continued to violate food safety, I'd walk. He told me to serve the ham."
"I picked up a second job at coffee and donut shop that America runs on for a few months. Before I was hired, I told them that my employment was contingent on being able to be at my little brother's first birthday party. (there's a 20-year difference between us.) They agreed, and I told them, 'It's during this festival that you'll be really busy, I need to know FOR SURE that you're aware of it and that I'll have the day off' Fine. Excellent. I honestly hated it. The customers were great but most of the coworkers I was with were just absolutely miserable old bats that were jaded and burnt out. A few weeks (or maybe a month?) later, I put my time off for my bro's birthday party. We didn't have anything fancy, just a calendar you'd write 'Insert your name here has a day off' wherever you wanted to take off, and if you were the first one to write it down, then you got the day off. It was unpaid most likely, since I was part-time and hourly, but whatever I didn't care.
The week before the party, my manager calls a meeting to go over how we'd all be working during the festival and how we'd all be needed. I said 'uh, not me, I'm off.' She proceeds to say 'whatever do you mean?' I respond by saying I'd asked for the day off, I'd written my name down, and I woudn't have taken the job if I had to work that day... she said 'well it's too bad, no one gets that day off'. I said, 'Oh, I will 100% have this day off, I don't care what you say. I quit.'
I turned in my visor, my apron, and my name tag and never looked back. Brother's party was the absolute cutest, and I don't regret it at all."