Thursday, December 6, 2018

My Fast Food Experiences

   Back when I was quitting my job at McDonalds, I mentioned that I would be making a post about my experience working in the fast food industry as a crew member. I never made that post.
So here, two years late, are some of my thoughts on the fast food industry.

  Let me first say that when I was applying for jobs, fast food was not my first choice. I knew that it was likely I would get hired by a fast food restaurant, but I wanted to try my other options first.  Since I hadn't had any experience in retail before, most of the clothing stores and such never even called me back, even though my resume wasn't empty.

  I was called in to interview at Macy's, where I was told I'd be given a job as a salesperson, selling jewelry, makeup, and perfume.  I was asked if I'd be okay with wearing Macy's jewelry, makeup and perfume every day to work, and I had to honestly say no, causing me not to get that job. I'm certain it would have paid better, and certainly would have been an easier pace of work, but to be someone I was not sounded too rough. Since I don't wear makeup, perfume, or much jewelry, the choice seemed clear.

  So I then applied at McDonalds. I was called in to three different stores, given interviews, and promised jobs at all of them. Only one followed up with me though, after the interview, so that became "my" store.

  My first impression of my coworkers was that they didn't want me there.  Most were unfriendly at first.  I also remember that my first day of work, the floor manager called one of the crew trainers over and said "________, you'll be training Virginia today", and the crew trainer made a face and asked "Do I have to?"

  I felt like I was a bother and a nuisance to everyone on crew. After watching hours of videos in the workroom about procedures and each different station, I felt more lost than ever. It wasn't until one of my managers (a guy with a totally sarcastic but hilarious attitude) said "You won't learn til you actually do it", and showed me exactly how to fry the fish, and nuggets, and fill the trays, and press the timers, and everything else in the kitchen that I really GOT it. This was only about three days into working.

  This manager in particular was the one who always saw my potential. At least I guess he did.  After working on the fryer for about 2 weeks, he said "You need to learn the grill too". So he taught me the grill.
  When I was fast on the grill, he said "You need to learn to do both at once." So he taught me, and I did both for a few months. Then he said "You need to learn to make the sandwiches". So he taught me, and from then on, I was almost always making sandwiches every day. I knew that I had mastered the fryer, grill, and making sandwiches quickly and in the times necessary for fast food.  I seemed to have reached the end of my stations though, because I started asking if I could learn to take orders, or make smoothies and coffee, and was never given the chance.
  I knew and understood that this wasn't because the management thought I'd stink at it...but because I was fast at making sandwiches.  They wanted to keep me there.  I literally made sandwiches for an entire year, never learning anything new.  It wasn't until my yearly review that this changed.  On the yearly review I was told that I was excelling at everything, but couldn't be given a raise because I hadn't learned to take orders or do drive thru. I kindly said that I had been asking to learn for nearly a year.  That next week, I was trained on drive thru and front counter, but only briefly.

  It was at this point that I started noticing lots of discrepancies with the company.  For instance, in the books, and video training, we were taught to only make two sandwiches at one time, no more.  But on the floor, our primary concern was getting the food out to the customers in the shortest amount of time necessary.  In front of me was a video screen where each order would pop up.  I would then make these orders and send them down the line to the person who was bagging the items.  It wasn't uncommon to have two orders pop up at once (one in drive thru and one at the counter) and then another and another.  Busy times of the day could fill up the entire screen.  Of course, it was never okay to have a full screen of orders, so my goal was always to dismiss them as soon as possible. 

  The problem arose when an order would come up with something like this: "14 cheeseburgers, 4 big macs, 6 bacon mcdoubles" and then two other orders pop up after it.

  If I were to follow the video instruction which says to make 2 sandwiches at a time, that order would be on screen for about 7-10 minutes, which is entirely unacceptable.  However, if I made about 4 sandwiches at a time, I could cut that in half.  If I made 6 at a time, it would take even less time.  So that's what I did.  Until one day the owner of the store came in to inspect and time people on different stations.

  Since I was making sandwiches, I knew I would be timed on my speed.  Sure enough, a huge order popped up on screen, and I began furiously making sandwiches 4 at a time.  The owner noticed and snapped at me that I wasn't following procedure and to make only two at a time.  I did as she said and switched to making 2 at a time, and the order seemed to take FOREVER to finish.  I knew she was timing how long the order was on the screen, but there was absolutely no way to speed it up making only 2 sandwiches at a time. 

   After scrutinizing my work and breathing over my shoulder for nearly 30 minutes, she finally said "You're doing well.  But your screen needs to be cleared faster", and walked away. 
I felt so much like saying "Have you ever completed an order like that, making 2 sandwiches at a time, in shorter time?"
Of course I didn't.  But it just solidified in my mind that McDonalds, like probably all of the other fast food companies, sets truly ridiculous times for their employees and then throws in a rule like "only make 2 sandwiches at once" and still demands that the order be made, and delivered in less than 23 seconds. 

  I totally understand the significance of the rule.  It makes sense that if you're making 4 sandwiches at once, they are all laying out, open on the counter, thus getting cold and unfresh.  But I was literally making sandwiches in seconds, never minutes.  The bun was still warm from the toaster by the time the sandwich was being placed into the warming spot. 

   But why the ridiculous rules?  Because the customer demands it.  After about a year and a half of working in this environment, I decided it definitely wasn't for me.  I could have worked my way up the chain, to crew trainer, then manager if I had wanted.  But as a manager and crew trainer, you are supposed to enforce the rules like "no more than 2 sandwiches at a time".  I knew I couldn't rightfully do that, since it made no sense put to the test in real life. 

  I'll always remember my time spent at McDonalds with some fondness, but mostly as a learning experience.  As customers, if our expectations are ridiculous (expecting to order and receive a meal in 23 seconds), we'll get what we pay for: junk food, and bad service (in most cases). 

  This post isn't meant to simply criticize McDonalds.  I still enjoy eating their McDoubles, though they're terrible for you.  I still go to McDonalds, mostly on road trips.  But like all fast food places, they have their flaws.  I noticed these first hand, working there.  I am thankful for the experience I had there, and it instilled in me a deep appreciation for food service workers- especially the ones who do a good job, and take pride in their work. 
  Next time you go to a restaurant, fast food or fine dining, take note of the workers who are doing their absolute best and respect them even if the food is slightly late.  It could just be because of a silly rule about only making 2 sandwiches at once.  😃


Friday, November 16, 2018

The First Snow of '18-'19

On Monday, we got a dusting of snow, about 2 inches.  It was a wet snow though, so it was mostly slush and quickly turned to ice after two nights of 11 and 15 degree weather. 

Today we took a few snow pictures.  Ok, a lot of snow pictures. 
It's Gwennie's first snow! She also celebrating her half birthday yesterday, so that was exciting!

 She mostly just wanted to eat the snow...




We're supposed to get about 8 inches today...and Dan's plow stopped working last night when he hooked it up.  So he is currently at the shop trying to get it fixed before he has to go do some plowing and the snow gets too deep. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Declutter October

     A friend of mine made a post on social media about a challenge she was doing to declutter her home. She encouraged her friends to join in for the month of October.  This challenge was the entire month long and every day of the month, you had to get rid of that many items. 
So October 2nd, get rid of 2 items...October 15th, get rid of 15 items and so on. 

     Lately, I've been bothered by the stuff lying around the house which I don't use.  If we're all honest with ourselves, there's stuff we all keep that we never or rarely use.  So I took my friend up on this challenge.  Days 1-8 were a breeze.  I started in the kitchen, going through cabinets and found so many mugs, dishes, and utensils I never use.  After exhausting the kitchen, I moved to my closet. 

     As much as I really want to be able to fit into some of the clothing I was able to wear when I was 22 and at my most fit stage of life, I'm seeing that goal as being more and more unrealistic.  That doesn't mean I've given up on losing weight or being healthy.  It just means that I don't think I'll see THOSE numbers on the scale again.  All that to say, my closet had a lot of clothing for me to get rid of in it.  I made it to day 15 getting rid of clothing, shoes and nail polish. 

     Moving to the baby's room, I was able to go through her things and get rid of some of the items I don't use.  At about day 23, I started struggling.  I got rid of a huge box full of books, piano music and cd's.  Clothing hangers were another easy item to get rid of, since I have bazillions of them.  I had already decided before starting this challenge that I wouldn't touch any of Dan's items (although you can be sure I wanted to clean out the garage with all of his tools...), only the things he didn't care about.

     I made it to day 31...barely.  Now that the challenge is finished though, I look around and find things every day that I still need to get rid of.

     During the 31 days, I was collecting and piling all of these discarded items in our biggest closet.  On Monday, I called the Salvation Army and asked them if they accept anything, or just certain items.  The man on the phone told me that they would take anything and were accepting all donations.  So we loaded the truck full of boxes and bags and headed down to Queensbury.  I was so excited to get rid of this stuff, but when we walked into the Salvation Army, the same man I talked to on the phone said that they had a temporary hold on taking donations and that they couldn't take anything from us.  I was annoyed because we had a truck full of things I was desperate to get rid of.  We were able to find a bin that took clothes in a parking lot, but everything else we had to haul home. 

     In my moment of desperation, I took photos of lots of stuff in boxes, and posted ads on Facebook marketplace and craigslist for free stuff. 

     I got super excited when about 10 people started messaging me that they wanted to come and look at it right away.  I wasn't going to put it out at the curb, since it was snowing and sleeting.  Out of the 23 total people who said they would come to get stuff, 2 ended up showing up and taking only some stuff, instead of taking it all like I said on the ad.  I kept saying to Dan "I never KNEW it was so hard to get rid of free stuff!"

     I guess the funniest messages I got were from three different people who were telling me they couldn't drive and needed me to bring the stuff to their houses.  One woman gave me her address and asked me to please ship it to her, and thank you.  Her address was in Maine! 

     Since I was so desperate to get rid of this stuff, I even agreed to meet up with one woman at a gas station to give her two boxes.  But she didn't confirm a time, so we never met up.  I learned a valuable lesson from this.  When you see something you want on an ad, don't leave the "seller" hanging.  It is SO FRUSTRATING.  Also, if the stuff is FREE, don't ask someone to deliver it or ship it. 

     Although I enjoyed de-cluttering my house in the month of October, the bother of giving the stuff away was hardly worth it.  I couldn't help thinking of the people around the world who would have loved to have the things I was trying to give away, but couldn't because nobody here wanted it or was willing to drive a few miles to get it.  So sad. 

     We have so much, yet often are so unthankful.  I'm speaking to myself as much as to the people who weren't willing to come to get some free things.  
     I shouldn't just think about being grateful in the month of November, but I often forget how much I have because I haven't experienced what it is like to be without. 

(As a side note, if you've never tried de-cluttering your home like this...I challenge you to try it.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Random Happenings in the State of NY

It's a beautiful day today. The first beautiful day we've had in a long time in fact.  I don't know about the weather in your area, but we have had rain every day for the past week or so.  Sunday there was a reprieve for a few hours. 
I honestly don't have any truly exciting news to tell, or any awesome pictures.  But we are still alive and well and I thought I would make a post.  Probably mostly writing, not so many pictures this time. 

About a month ago, Dan told me he wanted to go on a drive to see all the beautiful fall leaves.  Of course I was up for that, but the leaves were most beautiful when Dan and I were working nonstop on the house.  I didn't get any pictures, but we rented a bobcat and dump trailer and dug out 7 loads of dirt from what was supposed to be the driveway.  Then we got a load of gravel and Dan spread that and graded it.  Because we were renting the equipment, there was really no time to stop.  Anyway, we finished that, and then Dan installed the new garage door.  The outside of the house is now complete. 

By the time that week of non-stop work was finished, most of the leaves were brown and fallen.  But we still went on our drive.  Dan planned out to take me to Woodstock, Vermont.  The drive was nice.  It snowed in the mountains, and when we arrived, it was raining heavily.  Dan took us to a Rockefeller house there in Woodstock and we did the tour of it. 

It was a nice change from all the weeks of working on the house.

Even Gwennie enjoyed the tour!  She was the youngest person to ever take a tour apparently. All of the people in our tour group enjoyed her.

After we finished the tour, we drove around town a little bit just looking at the beautiful homes. Interestingly, I saw a sign that said "Justin Morgan" and we stopped to read it.  It jogged my memory of a book I read as a child called "Justin Morgan had a horse."  Come to find out that Justin Morgan lived in Woodstock with his famous horse, Figure.   
We drove back to Rutland for lunch because the prices in Woodstock are through the roof.   
In other news, Dan got two deer so far, exactly one week apart.  Our freezer is half-full.  We process them ourselves and last year, we were keeping every last piece of meat on the deer, even if it had sinew and grossness in it.  This year, we are only harvesting the good meat.  That way our freezer is full of good stuff, not junk like last year.  Our hope is that Dan will be able to get one more before the season is up beginning of December. 

We found a $4 meat grinder at an antique store and tried using it on some of the meat and it worked really well!  I just made lasagna Sunday with the ground venison and it tasted just like beef.  I'm very happy about that, since we ran out of the beef we had bought from my sister about two months ago.  I was having to force myself to eat the ground venison we had left from 2016 (the year we paid to have the deer processed) because it tasted truly awful. 
This picture brings me great joy.  We had to go to Albany last week.  Besides the history in that city, the only good thing about Albany is the Mexican restaurant, Salsa Latina.  We went there and ordered our normal, 3 tacos.  Turns out it was Taco Tuesday, a new deal they just started, so we only paid $6 for both of us! can't beat that.  And the tacos were amazing. 
Like I said, this post is just a compilation of a bunch of stuff that we've been doing, so bear with me.  On Sunday evening after church, it was so chilly that I thought we should watch a Christmas movie.  We watched 'The Grinch Stole Christmas" and it was Gwen's first time watching a movie.  As you can see, she was enthralled. 

Other news include the loss of a family member.  One of our 20 chickens died last night.  It's still an unsolved mystery, but I couldn't find any signs of foul play. 
I am very much looking forward to visiting my family at the end of this month for Thanksgiving.  Keep your eyes peeled for another post soon! 

Monday, October 22, 2018

House Updates

My apologies for being absent from my blog for so long.  We have been keeping busy feverishly working on the outside of the house before the REALLY cold weather sets in.  I scraped paint from the bottom portion of the house, but didn't really feel comfortable being higher than a tall step ladder, so Dan did the higher parts.  Also, the house is so tall that in order to effectively scrape and then paint the upper part, we had to rent a lift for a week.  The chimney pictured here was falling apart, so Dan also rebuilt it and replaced several slate shingles.
This is the first coat of primer.

This side of the house was by far the worst.  It hadn't been painted correctly in over 20 years probably.  It's also the side of the house that was covered with vines.

We had some dreadfully wet weather the week we rented the lift, hence, the mud pit. 

Dan's view from the roof.  This is looking out over the new metal roof he put on last fall.

First coat of paint.

Dan accidently sprayed himself in the face with the paint sprayer.  So of course, I took a picture. 

After paint.

We also bought new, vinyl windows for the house since the windows were all original (from 1900) and needed updating.


They were delivered one day and Dan started installing them the next day!
My job was to haul the old windows out to the garage.

Also, a few weeks ago, Dan and I laid these huge slabs of stone and made a patio out of them. 

Some window install in process.

The house after painting was complete. 

This house has been the talk of the town.  I walked into the town municipal center today to pay a water bill and the lady there talked to me for about 15 minutes about how amazing the house looks now and kept profusely thanking me for helping to bring the old house back to life. 
People stop several times a day to say similar things to Dan. 
I appreciate that they appreciate an old house being restored.
I hope all of you have had a good month.  It's hard to believe that October is nearly over and that tomorrow's weather forecast calls for snow flurries here!  

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mini Vacation to Maine

In July we planned a short trip to Maine for August to visit Dan's extended family.  Dan found an off-the-grid cabin in Maine which the owners allow to be used as a sort of rest spot for families and couples serving in the ministry. 
We planned to stay there for three nights.  The drive up to Maine consisted of a lot of random stops every time I saw historical landmarks and every time Dan saw a Farmall tractor- particularly the cubs. 
We stopped to see this Quechee gorge.  It's very deep as you can see, and there were signs tacked and tied with zip ties to the bridge begging people to seek help and reminding readers that they were loved.  I found out later that it's the number one spot for suicides in Vermont.  Pretty crazy. 
When we continued our drive, we went on the back roads mostly and we were starving hungry (despite the fact that I packed a lunch for us).  After looking for a place to eat for about two hours, we found this little gem. 

We indulged in some amazingly greasy food.  Gwen enjoyed watching us eat.  Until we were nearly finished.  Then she cried until Dan took her to look at the gift shop. 

We stopped to take a picture of this dam and beautiful covered bridge. 

And we finally made it to our cabin after getting lost a little bit.  Neither of our cellphones worked the entire time we were there in Maine.  At least the Data.  Mine didn't work for anything but a camera.  Dan could sometimes have enough service to place a phone call when he was in town or something. 
This is the cabin where we stayed.  It was very nice.  Very, away-from-it-all.  It ran on solar panels, so we took short showers and were very careful to not waste any water.  Since it was off-the-grid, there was no internet, TV's or electronics.  It was nice.  When we were there in the evenings, we spent time playing monopoly and banana grams.  I also read four Louis L'amour books since they were on a bookshelf. 

The first night we arrived, Dan just HAD to try lighting a fire in the firepit, which was actually a wheelbarrow! How neat!  I will say...considering I don't normally like s'mores, those were AMAZING.

When we woke up the next morning, we did a little searching on the Maine Atlas that was provided for our exploring needs.  We saw a few attractions in the area, so headed towards the first, the oldest wire bridge in the US. 

I'll be honest, just walking across it was scary a little because the whole thing was giving and shaking with just me walking!  I hate to know how it would have felt if a car had driven across. 

It was neat though. 
When we finished looking at that, we headed to Farmington, where Dan insisted he would be able to find the house where we were to meet up with his family the next day.  Since we went to Farmington, we stopped at McDonalds (to use the wifi primarily) and found a church to attend the next night (Wednesday evening).  I told Dan that we should just text his aunt and ask for the house address, but he insisted he could find it based on his spectacular memory from childhood.  We searched on every street in that town...(or that's what it felt like at least).  Dan would tentatively turn the car onto a street and say "Oh, YES, I remember now!  Its this street for sure.  Middle street.  I remember it...we'll drive up here and the house will be on the left...and its yellow..." and there'd be a dead end with no house.  I got a good laugh out of it, and didn't mind, since we didn't have anywhere else we needed to be.  We did finally find the house.  It wasn't yellow though.  :D 
As we were headed back to the cabin for the evening, I saw a brown sign indicative of a historical site ahead.  We followed it and drove up a driveway to a homestead.  This homestead was where Lillian Norton (Nordica) was born.  I had no idea who that was, so we just walked in and paid the small fee to do the tour.  Apparently, Nordica was a world famous opera singer in the 1800's.  Our tour guide was very well-informed and made the tour fun.  The house was full of antiques and the photos and paintings of Nordica as well as her costumes and dresses for the different roles she played in operas in Europe and America.    

It happened to be the hottest day of the summer that day, so our tour guide gave me a fan to use.  Gwen was thrilled with the tour. 

This was a fan Queen Victoria gave to Nordica as a gift.

It was neat to learn something new.  I definitely enjoyed the tour more than Dan.  He liked seeing the old stove and examining how someone restored the house and put drywall on all the walls and things like that.  He wasn't so much into the opera singing- fancy dress-wearing Nordica.  I got into it though.  Our guide was so happy we stopped that she gave me a free Nordica tee shirt. 
We went back to the cabin and that evening it was SO hot in the cabin.  To save money, I had brought along a pre-baked lasagna (a big pan), eggs, squash, and things for s'mores.  So we only ate out that one time when we were driving up to Maine. 
The next morning, we referred to our Atlas yet again, and then drove to a hiking trail and hiked to the waterfall.  This is me, wearing my Nordica shirt. 

After we finished that hike, we were driving around, simply exploring, when we drove by this tiny sign that said "Cemetery" with an arrow.  Dan knows I love visiting old cemeteries, so we parked at the locked gate and walked back a pathway til we got to another pathway, slightly overgrown. 

We kept seeing more signs for the cemetery, so we kept walking further and further into the forest.  

Sadly, we had to give up because we came to a giant sign saying that it was a wetlands.  I nearly stepped into a boggy, lily-pad covered marsh area not knowing it.  SO we turned back.  But I really wish we had found it. 
We saw what was left of this windmill...
And then the rest of that day we spent with Dan's family.  It was very nice to see his aunt and uncle and grandmother again.  That evening we went to a church where Dan's family used to go when they would visit their family.  The pastor still remembered him!
That was Wednesday night.  It was nearly 9pm when we got back to the cabin because the rain was SO bad.  Poor Gwen's bedtime is at 8, so she was in an inconsolable frenzy, screaming and screaming.  She woke up several times that night screaming as well, which is very unusual given the fact that she's been sleeping through the night now for about a month. 
The next morning, we woke up early and packed everything up so we could get a head start on our drive back home to NY.  Before we left though, Dan and Gwen spent a nice time chatting. 

The drive back seemed to go super fast.  When the GPS said we had about two hours left, Dan really wanted to go a little out of our way and visit the Vermont Country Store.  I didn't know what to expect because I'd never even heard of it.  But he said his mom used to order things out of their catalog when he was a child. 
It was really a neat store!

Dan got some sea-salted caramels and I got one chocolate covered cashew cluster. 

Gwennie got to ride her first tractor in the form of a tire swing.  Or maybe it was a tire swing in the form of a tractor?

 It was a neat place to get Christmas presents for kids.  I told Dan that someday we need to go there to get Christmas presents because they have old-timey games and toys made of wood and leather and things, not plastic junk with batteries in it.
We made it home safely, even after being pulled over by a policeman.  Dan was driving at the time and was going 65mph in a 45 zone.  The officer was extremely kind and generous in just giving him a warning instead of a ticket.  You can be sure that he was watching the speedometer the rest of the way.  :D
It was a nice little vacation for us.  We were happy to be home after it though.  
That's the last of our adventures in August.  I'm very late posting this. Today is the first day of AUTUMN!!!!!
Crazy how time flies.  Soon, it'll be snow that's flying...