God Bless Our Fast Food Workers

I’ve always been a fast-food fan. For decades now I’ve completely ignored the health nuts and continued with my regular enjoyment of burgers, fries, onion rings, and sodas. (I count on my regular routine of savage workouts–cycling, running, and strength work–to offset the dietary negatives.)

The pandemic turned that indulgence to 11. Suddenly I didn’t really have any other options for lunch. As an essential worker, I’ve been at my office on my normal schedule throughout the Covid craziness. Driving through and grabbing something quickly became the almost-everyday default, nearly all of it evenly spread between the McDonalds and Burger King restaurants closest to my workplace.

It’s been eight solid months now, and with very few exceptions, I’ve made a couple of visits a week to each of those outlets. In that time, I’ve received three extra straws. Just last week I got a Dr. Pepper instead of a Coke.

Those are the only errors they’ve made. Not once has there been a missing food item. I keep hoping they’ll forget my straw, so I can use one of the extras I have still sitting on my desk. That still hasn’t happened.

Early on, there were some pretty long waits in line as the stores made the transition to 100% drive-thru. Now even if the line is long, it moves ahead so fast I’m often in a rush to get my radio turned down and window open before I get to the microphone.

That’s extraordinary performance. In our callous world where fast-food jobs and the workers who fill them are often denigrated, it should be eye-opening. I’ve hammered the point that we haven’t ever valued well enough all the front-line workers like manufacturing people and truck drivers who keep us fed and clothed and such, and that this pandemic should be a wake-up call to treat them better. The same goes for all these folks who’ve gotten me my sandwiches and drinks and such day in, day out through this pandemic.

Thank you, burger-flippers! I’d be a very hungry man without you.


Jim Vinoski
Jim Vinoski
Jim Vinoski thinks he’s a pretty regular guy. Jim grew up in Michigan’s glorious Upper Peninsula. He’s married and has two sons, and now resides in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area. He’s an avid cyclist, runner, and reader. He and his two boys are heavily involved in Scouting, with Jim serving as their Troop’s Scoutmaster. He’s a big WWII history buff and has never gotten over his 1980s fascination with heavy metal music. He has over 30 years of experience in manufacturing, in products ranging from plastics and paints to food and bourbon. (That last one was a heck of a lot of fun.) His focus has been in engineering (he holds a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering), operations, and management. He’s a veteran of such companies as Ralston-Purina and General Mills, and he’s currently responsible for all store-brand manufacturing of dairy and beverage products for a major regional US grocery chain. As a Forbes Contributor, Jim covers all facets of manufacturing. He’s explored everything in his column there from the success stories of numerous American manufacturers to the amazing innovations in our advanced technologies, such as 3D printing and artificial intelligence. Jim also blogs about everything under the sun at The Interface.

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  1. Jim, you are quite right that much of the public looks down on the front-line workers be they farmworkers, truckers, maids, cashiers, or hamburger flippers. It should also be noted that the fast-food operations offer beginning work experience to many who go on to manage facilities, are a major source of work for college students, and offer many a part-time second job to meet essential bills. In a world where we are not self-reliant and unable to even feed ourselves one would think people would appreciate those that provide essential services and products.