By Michael Gushue & CL Bledsoe
So, you fucked up and got a degree in the Humanities. Sure, you know how to think and feel and appreciate beauty, but you can’t eat joie de vivre, even with ketchup. Now, you’ve graduated, and while your classmates have gone on to destroy the economy and steal their grandparents’ pensions, you are left with your self-respect and a worthless piece of paper. Luckily, Arby’s is hiring.
There’s a myth that only teenagers work at fast food restaurants. The reality is that a lot of the employees you’re liable to encounter will actually be adults. Some will be women whose children are old enough to go to school, so they work to supplement their income, i.e. survive. Some will be folks who lack the training and education to get higher paying jobs, or maybe they have scheduling or transportation issues. Some might have had higher paying jobs elsewhere, but were laid off. Some will be supplementing another job with this one.
None of this makes them less worthy of respect. They work hard for miniscule pay and are seen as easy targets for disrespect and abuse by a certain population of customers, i.e. jerkwads. There are all sorts of perfectly respectable reasons why a person works fast food, and judging a person based on their job is some bourgeois bullshit.
But none of this applies to you; you’re just a loser, trying to pay rent on the shitty apartment you share with Shimmy J, who was recently kicked out of the Juggalo commune for being wack. Shimmy J likes to rail against the indignities of pants while he plays Super Mario games he stole during the two weeks he worked at GameStop. That means he’s sat on virtually every surface in the apartment pantless. And Shimmy J ain’t the type to wear drawers.
Getting the Job
First, you have to apply. Lucky for you, you can apply to a lot of shitty jobs online, which means you don’t have to suffer Shimmy J’s derision by putting on pants. It does require an internet connection, so you might have to go to the library, which WILL require pants (learned that the hard way).
You might not even need a resume to apply, which is great, because even though you just spent six years getting a four-year degree basically in writing, you don’t actually know how to write a resume. But if someone needs a half-assed analysis of the political climate during the Peloponnesian War, or maybe Hemingway’s use of valises as a metaphor for impermanence, you’re on that shit. But they don’t. No one will ever want that.
*It should be noted that if you do actually have a resume, it won’t matter much. You’ll still have to fill in six pages of questions that would all be answered if the HR folks actually read your resume. Because there are no HR folks. So it’s kind of pointless to have one. You may think this is due to incompetence on the part of the web designers or whatever, but you would be wrong. It’s a test to determine how much bullshit you’ll put up with. You may also notice that the site will time out just as you’re about to finish, meaning you’ll have to start over and fill it all in again. This is all part of the test. The hiring manager won’t actually read anything you’ve typed in. He’s too busy doing coke.
Once you’ve applied, you’ll immediately celebrate by getting tore down. The hiring manager knows this, which is why they’ll require a drug test before you can start. The irony, here, is that no one could ever work fast food sober. What they really want to test is how well you can hide how fucked up you are. (Also, it should be noted that when we say “hiring manager,” we’re actually talking about the franchise owner’s cousin, Jimmy Three-Thumbs, who handles the web stuff and paperwork due to his great speed with the space bar.)
Let’s skip ahead and assume you get called in for an interview. They pretty much call everyone in, so if you didn’t get the call, we don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you don’t exist, which, hey, how many problems would that solve, huh? Some places don’t even bother with calling. They just have a day you can come and beg for a job, just in case you had any delusions that they intended to treat you with even a modicum of respect.
Anyway, now you’ve got an interview to go to. That means you have to wash your ass. Don’t be intimidated. Sure, it’s been days — and days in stank ass are like dog years; one day is like seven, for everyone around you. But you’ve got to get it done. So get your crying over with and clean yourself up. Then, you’ve got to dress up decent. That means socks, drawers, a shirt that doesn’t have a slogan or logo on it — preferably one with buttons, if not all the way down, then at least partway down. A collar would be nice, if you’re an overachiever. You don’t want to dress up too much (not that this is probably a problem). Showing up in a tux, for example, would make you stand out, but it would also show that you’re a wild card, which no fast food manager would want to deal with. Also, if you dress too nicely, that will show that you still have some self-esteem, which means you’ll be harder to exploit. That’s a no-no.
Maybe you have to stand in a line while broke folks go up and try to rent themselves to a sweaty dude in a used-to-be-white shirt. This offers you the opportunity to observe the interview style of others. For example, if another interviewee responds to the question, “What would you say your strengths are?” Maybe don’t reply as they did with, “I got shot on the way here, and I’m hardly bleeding.” as this might send the impression that you wouldn’t be available to work immediately, since you’ll be in the hospital.
Common Interview Questions
On a scale of 1–10, with 1 being not very able and 10 being very able, how able are you to work while crying hysterically about the state of your life?
What do you consider to be your greatest exploitable weakness?
Tell us about some ways you’ll be completely beholden to us.
Name a situation in which it wouldn’t be correct to ask if the customer would like fries with that. *Trick question: always ask.
Your First Day
You want to arrive early for your first day, because there will be all kinds of paperwork and stuff they’ll expect you to do, preferably off the clock, before you start. They probably told you to wear a certain color clothing or a certain kind of shoes. They probably will give you a shirt and maybe cap that you’ll have to pay for. These clothes will make you look ridiculous, which is all part of their plan to crush any remaining shreds of self-esteem you may have.
They’re going to give you the worst job in the place. Lucky for you, they’re all the worst. People and shitty movies that normalize class exploitation seem to think that working fast food is easy. You’re going to have to be on your feet for your entire shift. It’s going to be very fast-paced. (If it’s not, you’re probably about to get fired.) People (including your boss) will treat you like less than human. Maybe you get a fifteen minute break. There’s probably no break room. There may not even be a place for you to put your things, like a fridge to keep your lunch in, because they’d rather you buy your lunch from them. You’re going to have very little say in your schedule, and if you complain or ask for changes or time off, they’ll just stop giving you hours, entirely, until you quit.
As much as you’d like to curl up into a fetal position and wait for the zombies, this is your life now. It’s best to make peace with the fact that you’re not a genius, you’re not going to magically become rich and/or famous; you’re not even special. You’ve got to wade through the pissstorm just like everyone else (except the aforementioned jerkwads, who wouldn’t know hard work if they watched poor people doing it in HD). For you, the only way out is through Shimmy J’s pudass stink into the Arby’s stink, because you don’t have a car and this is the closest business to your apartment that was hiring.
Protip: Many restaurants throw out old food at the end of the night. If you play your cards right, you might be able to snag a day-old fish sandwich. Unfortunately, in some fast food eateries, it can be quite competitive to get the day-old food, while at others, employees can be fired for taking old food. Think about that next time you vote.
Some Things to Consider about Working at Arby’s
- Don’t worry about Herbert. He never hurt nobody. Not in weeks.
- You don’t want to get on Sharon’s bad side. She does scheduling.
- Hungry? Here’s your solution.
- Don’t stare at the knives like that. Everyone can see you.
- Try our delicious jalapeno cheese fish poppers.
- No, no, he can’t stay in here. He knows that. He has to order and then take it outside. We’ve done told him.
- You got to wear a hairnet or a cap. No exceptions. See Big John? All his hair fell out from the chemo, but he still wears a cap. NO EXCEPTIONS.
- Just rinse the knife off and put it away. Quit turning it so it catches the light like a star.
- No ma’am, we don’t sell Big Macs. That’s McDonald’s. They’re next door, so you can walk your butt right over there.
- Can you live on half a Cheddar ’n’ Beef-A-Roni Chalupa every other day? Yes. Is there enough left over to pay your student loans? No.
As that last Thing to Consider makes clear, you’re not going to make enough at Arby’s to pay off your student loans. Or your rent. Of course — let’s face it — none of us really gives a flying fuck at a rolling donut about paying our students loans. If someone came to you tomorrow and said “We’re wiping the slate clean on all student loans! No more student loan payments!” we’re pretty sure you’d be cool with that. Your lifeplan, just like 99% of college graduates, is to send them a token payment after the fifth reminder. Well, not so much a plan as a necessity. On the other hand, we do care deeply about not being forced to cower in the basement of a burnt out tenement while the Debt Police helicopters circle overhead. You say there’s no such thing as the Debt Police? Just you wait.
Anyway, if you are determined to pay off your student loans, there are ways to do that. However, we certainly don’t know what they are. But Shimmy J says he knows a guy can get that new designer drug for cheap. You just got to come meet him so he knows you’re cool. Nah, he ain’t shot nobody in forever. And that last time, that was just a misunderstanding. That other dude? Oh, he deserved that shit. Smart guy like you won’t have any problems. Actually, the guy works closing tonight. Just hang out by the Dumpster till he comes in.