In My Shoes: What It’s Like to Be a Fast Food Worker

Uh-oh! This one’s not following the “Subway Formula.”  Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Uh-oh! This one’s not following the “Subway Formula.” Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons



“I wish that everyone would work at a fast food restaurant for about a month,” said Joplin Tates. “That would help everyone understand what we employees go through each day.” 

Joplin Tates is an ex-employee of Subway. She worked there for about three years. Tates worked the morning shift from 6am to 12pm along with her friend Jasmine Chen and her manager. 

“After getting changed, our job was to prep the salads, veggies, and the avocadoes,” said Tates. “Afterward, we stocked the chips, sodas, and cleaned up the store right before we opened. That was basically all we had to do besides making sandwiches.” 

Some customers are easier to handle than others.

“One time, a man with a heavy accent wanted me to put extra olives,” said Chen. “So I did. However, he started yelling at me, ‘No! I want extra olives!’ I responded, ‘Yes sir, I’m putting on extra olives.’ Then he screamed, ‘No! Olives! O-LI-VES!’ We ended up arguing back and forth, and so, in the end, I gave up and called the manager over. She was just confused as I was. He ended up yelling how horrible we were and walked out. I still, to this day, don’t know what he was trying to say.” 

“Many times we employees have been told that we must be nice to all customers so that they will be nicer to us,” said Chen. “However, sometimes, that won’t work. No matter how much you smile, or how bright it is, some people will still take their waves of anger off on us. I understand that they may go through some things in their life, but come on, we too are humans, not some dummies for you to scream and curse at.” 

Their advice for anyone planning to work at a fast food restaurant is: You must be able to grow some tough skin and be ready to deal with some crazy customers.

“One time, a dude ordered two foot-longs,” said Tates. “I rang him up, it was like 20 bucks, and he just refused to pay for no reason. So, I refused to give him the sandwiches. He called the manager over and demanded that I get fired. He created a huge scene. The manager had to call over a cop to escort him out of the store.”

Working in a fast food restaurant helps you realize how annoying you, as a customer, can be. Also, it’ll help you understand how hard it is for employees to deal with customers, the ex-Subway employees say. 

“Here is another tip,” said Chen. “When the owner or that strict manager shows up, you’ll need to remember to follow the Subway Formula. Quick fact: the ‘Subway Formula’ tells us the number of things to put on each foot long.” 

For example, employees are only able to place six slices of onions and olives on each foot-long sandwich. They are not being cheap, that’s just the “Subway Formula” that all employees must follow. 

The most necessary requirement to be a Subway employee is to be patient,” said Tates. “You’ll have to deal with a lot of nonsense from the customers. Sometimes, it will make you want to quit, but there isn’t anything you can do about it.” 

Free lunch makes up for dealing with annoying customers.   Photo Credit: Mike Saechang

Free lunch makes up for dealing with annoying customers.

Photo Credit: Mike Saechang




Chipotle lovers, ever wondered what it’s like to make that burrito magic happen? Not only is Chipotle a good place to eat, it’s also a pretty decent place to work.

To work at Chipotle, you must be 16 years old. Locally, the job pays minimum wage, which is $15 per hour in New York City. 

If you work in the kitchen, you grill chicken and steak and cook rice and beans. 

Charles Dubreuil, a Chipotle worker, said, “One time, one of my coworkers made a whole pot of rice, and when he was taking it off the rice cookers, he dropped the whole pot on the floor. All the rice fell out, so he had to remake it. We didn’t have white rice available for an hour or so. That day was funny even though we got in trouble.”

There are many perks to working at Chipotle such as getting paid for a 30 minute break, getting raises as you get better at your position, and getting paid for sick days and vacation, Dubreuil said. Workers get free food while on their shift and a 50% discount when they are off. 

But the job can also be stressful.

“It can get overwhelming when it gets busy,” said Dubreuil. “The only other bad thing I could say is sometimes the customers can be extremely rude. But the best thing about working there is that my coworkers make Chipotle feel like home with the connection we have with each other.”

ViVi Bubble Tea


Every Saturday, Ivan Lee ’20 works as a cashier at ViVi Bubble Tea on West 14th street near Union Square. 

 Lee begins his work day starting at 10-11 am and stays on until 7pm. 

Working there, “you need to be able to speak to people clearly and be nice,” said Lee. “You don’t need many skills, just basic counting.”

Lee has many responsibilities working at ViVi.

“I do almost everything, like making tea, resupplying, cleaning, and catering,” said Lee.

To make a bubble tea, an employee mixes milk, ice, boba, and extras depending on the flavor.

Working at ViVi has its perks. One rewarding part of the job is the small talk with the customers.

“Some of the customers are pretty cool,” said Lee. “The job teaches you to break out of your shell, improve your social skills, and learn to talk to people.”

Another benefit of working at ViVi is getting free food.

“I get rice and popcorn chicken that doesn’t get used,” said Lee. “I also get free bubble tea as long as I’m on break. For lunch breaks, I go on break for around 20 minutes to an hour depending on how busy the store is.”

All though the job can be enjoyable for Lee, “being a cashier can also be hell.” 

“There are customers who complain for no reason,” said Lee. “There are also customers who, when you answer their questions, they just ask the same question.”

Lee has had some memorable moments at the store, such as the time “when it was raining outside really hard, raining cats and dogs, and people were running into the store for shelter.Also, there was this one time when this guy came in asking for a slushy with no ice.”

For anyone who is looking to become a cashier, Lee said, “Try to be calm, be good at recommending, and know what you’re talking about.” 

FeaturesCasey Levinson