The average American spends about $70,000 on takeout and delivery in their lifetime, and a sizable portion of that sum goes toward fast food. We love gorging ourselves on cheeseburgers, fries, and other trashy delicacies, and if you’re reading this, there’s a fairly decent chance that your mouth is watering.
Before you rush to the drive-thru, however, remember that there are actual people preparing and serving your food. Most make only slightly more than minimum wage, and they’re forced to deal with angry, rude customers while working over hot fryers and grills. It’s not a great way to make a living—but it makes for some pretty unbelievable stories.
We collected some of the best stories shared by real-life fast food workers on Reddit, then edited them slightly for grammar and readability. By all means, enjoy that Big Mac, but be sure to thank your server; their jobs certainly aren’t easy.
1. “The customer’s always right” is a horrible rule.
Here’s a universal truth: If you’ve ever worked a minimum-wage job that required direct interaction with customers, you hate that adage. Just take the experiences of this Reddit user (who has since deleted their account), who worked at Chipotle.
“A guy came in and got a burrito with no rice, barbacoa, two scoops of hot, two scoops of sour cream, and no cheese. As I began wrapping it, I said, ‘Man, there’s not anything in this burrito to soak up all this liquid…it’s like trying to wrap up soup in a tortilla.'”
“He kinda laughed like I was joking…I was not. Why wouldn’t you get a bowl with a tortilla on the side?”
“Anyways, he takes a few steps towards the door and looks into the bag. He comes back and demands it be re-wrapped. I mean, what the f*** did you expect, you f****** Turd Ferguson?”
We appreciate a good Celebrity Jeopardy reference.
“I explained that it was because he got a bunch of liquid, but he felt differently. Another team member pours it into a new tortilla—but when you do that, you lose half of the juices. So after it was wrapped, he kind of gave me a look like, ‘See, it can be wrapped.’ Very frustrating.”
2. To get free food, know your local fast food restaurant’s policies.
“Years ago, I was at a McDonald’s in rural Maryland,” wrote Streamstroller. “The guy in front of me ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke. He got it and walked away. As I was finishing my order, he walked back up to the counter with a half-eaten burger and shoved it at the cashier, saying, ‘It don’t taste right.’ She took it silently and handed him another one.”
That’s fairly normal; this, however, is not.
“I finished ordering, paid, and was standing to the side waiting for my nuggets when the man came back to the same cashier with the new burger—again half eaten—and said again that it wasn’t right. She took it and got him another one again.”
“When my nuggets were up, I said something to her along the lines of, ‘That guy sure is picky.’ She gave me a sad half-smile and said, ‘He does it every day.'”
“He was basically scamming a free cheeseburger every day and getting away with it because their policy was just to hand over a new burger if there was at least half left.”
3. Don’t even ask about the spinach dip.
“Well, I was a waitress/bartender, and a group came in,” one Redditor wrote. “They were really friendly, and they knew the manager. They asked me for some suggestions, and one woman asked how the spinach dip was. I told her it was one of my favorite appetizers—truthfully!”
“She asked if it was enough for a meal by itself. I said, ‘Well, it just comes in a small cup, so I don’t think it would be enough for a meal.’ I see one of the men get up from the table and come back a few minutes later.”
“Five minutes later, another waitress brings me a cup of spinach dip. I asked what it was for, and she has no idea. I radio my manager, and she yells back into the radio for all to hear, ‘It’s for my group of friends who you told the spinach dip was no good, and that they couldn’t order it! Next time, let people order what they want or you’re fired!'”
“The guy had told her that they asked to order it, and I told them no. What a [jerk].”
We had to edit that last part. This is a family website.
4. At least the spinach dip was actually on the menu.
“I used to work in a cinema,” wrote one Reddit user. “I was serving, and some dude asked me for nachos. I asked if he wanted cheese or salsa with them, and he said ‘steak.’ I thought he was kidding, so I laughed and repeated my question. He said ‘steak’ again.”
“I explained we didn’t sell steak and nachos, or steak at all for that matter. He got into a massive huff about how this was ‘unbelievable’ and all he wanted was some steak for his nachos and that I was being a total b****. I told him there was a steakhouse next door and maybe he was confused or something. He asked to see my manager and had a good rant at him about how appalling it was that we didn’t sell steak and how he didn’t want to see the film if he couldn’t have one.”
In his defense, who can really enjoy a Fast and Furious film without a nice top sirloin?
5. If you’re going to try to run a scam, get your facts right.
“At Chipotle, a guy complained about his food after eating it all,” Braindeathdomination wrote.
We’re pretty sure that happens every day at Chipotle, but don’t worry, it gets worse.
“That was dumb, but not ridiculous. What was ridiculous was that he said, ‘Hey, man, this wasn’t made right, man, I used to work here. I worked for Armando, yo. This isn’t right, I need a refund.'”
“Armando was the general manager, and his name was printed on the business cards at the register—in plain view of customers. The thing is, literally no one on the staff called him that; we all called him by a much shorter nickname.”
“So I asked this guy what Armando’s nickname was, and he just stared at me for a couple seconds, then clicked his tongue at me, threw his burrito wrapper in the trash, and walked out. Great plan, dumba**.”
6. Work at any restaurant, and you’ll run into these types of customers.
“I had a customer order a cheeseburger,” wrote Julietehcutie. “He ate it and then came back for an order of chili.”
“When he got the chili, he complained that there was beef in it and that he couldn’t eat beef because he was deathly allergic and would die instantly if he ate any. I, of course, asked if he wanted me to call an ambulance. He asked why, and I said, ‘Because you ate a cheeseburger.'”
“He then turned beet-red at his own stupidity. He said, ‘No,’ and just left in shame, I guess.”
The faux-concern doesn’t end at beef.
“When I worked for Popeyes, there was a promo once for boneless chicken,” wrote treblearietta. “It was always spicy, and you got a breast, thigh, fries, and a biscuit for like $4.99 or something. The issue: Because there were red spices in the marinade, it colored the chicken even after it was cooked.”
“A man came in—about half an hour after he went through the drive-thru—claiming his chicken was raw. He opened the box, which had half a piece in it and nothing else.”
“I explain to him that the red color is from the spices, and the manager denies him a refund because he ate almost all his food and he didn’t have a receipt. He leaves, and about 10 minutes later, his wife comes in cussing up a storm while brandishing the same box from earlier because we didn’t refund her husband.”
“The manager and I tell her what we told the guy earlier, and she proceeds to throw the box across the counter at another cashier who was turned around making an order.”
That family (apparently) wanted to take no chances at eating undercooked food—this next guy wanted nothing but.
“I worked at Wendy’s,” wrote TAKEYOURCHAIRWITHYOU, who might have the most aggressive username on this list. “This scraggly looking guy used to come in every day and order ‘a lite burger, a lite potato, and a lite soda.'”
“The burger had to be just done, not a second over, just turning brown. He came in every single day, and 3-5 times per week, he’d come back for a new burger, because it wasn’t ‘lite’ enough. Also, the potato had to be like halfway [cooked]. We had to take the ones we were currently baking out [of the oven] to give to him.”
If your meal preferences are that particular, do everyone a favor: Cook your own food.
7. Some customers expect employees to know everything.
“I’m 16, and I just recently started working at Wendy’s to get some cash ready for this summer,” wrote zylerteller. “I’ve only been working a few weeks, mind you. One night, I was working the back doing the drive-thru, etc.”
“This man—probably in his mid-thirties, a husky dude with a tattoo sleeve—pulls up and asks about our barbeque chicken salad. I was honest with him and told him I had never actually tried it, but I recommended some other items.”
“He straight up cursed me out and told me I had no right to be working at Wendy’s if I didn’t know what the food tasted like. Tires screeched, and he drove away. The manager heard everything through the headset and was laughing his a** off when I turned around.”
The guy had a point; why wouldn’t minimum wage employees sample every single item on the menu in their off hours? According to user BLut91, workers are also expected to have a rudimentary understanding of local taxes.
“Here in Ontario, there’s some tax thing where the taxes aren’t applicable on food purchases under $4,” they wrote. “Anyways, once while working at Tim Horton’s, I had a lady lose it on me for not splitting up her order into multiple orders less than $4 each so she didn’t have to pay taxes on them.”
8. A good manager can make a bad job much more tolerable.
Reddit user NeverAgainNora worked at a Taco Bell in an airport. At the time, he was in high school.
“A lady came up to the counter and asked me—the cashier—if we had beef in our chicken tacos,” he wrote. “Being a smart***, I said, ‘This is Taco Bell. We put beef on everything.’ The lady walked away in a huff. My manager laughed her butt off. The customer complained to her a few minutes later, and my manager put her straight. That manager was awesome.”
Okay, maybe that customer wasn’t wholly in the wrong—a bit sensitive, sure. This next one’s a bit less defensible.
“I made an order for something similar to an eggs benedict with spinach and tomato,” wrote Quackmeyer, a cook. “15 minutes later, the manager came to me and said he just had to comp a meal I made. I asked what was wrong; the spinach and tomatoes on the dish were swapped around, and it didn’t look like the picture, so the customer demanded that it was free.”
And we’ll say it—this last one’s practically indefensible.
“I’m a general manager for McDonald’s, and we share a parking lot with a Wendy’s,” wrote RobbieLynnette. “Currently, Wendy’s is offering a 4 for $4 deal. It’s plastered all over their windows and lawn (and we don’t share a lawn).”
You know where this is going.
“A lady came through the drive-thru and totally lost her [cool], cussing and yelling at one of my employees cause they wouldn’t honor ‘our’ advertising. The poor kid tried repeatedly to explain, but the customer wouldn’t hear of it and demanded to talk to me. I told her to go to Wendy’s.”
9. Some customers are extremely particular about their…wrappers.
“I worked at a Burger King, and this guy came through the drive-thru and said his order was wrong,” wrote Tylerb108. “The manager told him he’d need to come inside and bring the receipt.”
That’s a perfectly reasonable request…if you’re not completely insane.
“The guy yelled into the speaker thing, ‘I have two kids in my car! I ain’t f****** coming inside! I’m gonna come in there and f*** your day up!’ Then he drove away.”
Tylerb108 had another story to share—and it’s even more baffling.
“Another time, a woman came in and ordered ‘a cheeseburger with no cheese and a burger with cheese added.’ So I made a burger and a cheeseburger, and put them in their respective wrappers.”
“That was wrong. Apparently, I was supposed to put the burger in the cheeseburger wrapper, and cross out the ‘cheese’ on the wrapper. Then, I was supposed to take the cheeseburger and put it in the burger wrapper and write ‘+cheese.'”
We can’t help but think that order was placed by someone from Burger King headquarters—maybe even the King himself. That guy always creeped us out.
10. If you can’t afford to tip, don’t eat out.
Most restaurants have their share of regular customers. That’s typically a good thing—provided that they’re willing to pay for their meals.
“[These same customers] would usually come in late at night, with little kids running around making a mess,” wrote _eiknarf_. “They would say everything was fine until the check came, then complain to the manager to get half of the food taken off [the bill].”
“Luckily, I had an awesome manager. Whenever I got stuck with them, he would say, ‘Just take care of them, and I’ll take care of you.’ He’d take an additional dish or two off as my tip.”
“One night, though, I dropped off the check, and to my surprise, they didn’t ask for the manager. I go back over to pick up the check, and they’re gone—as is the checkbook. I run out into the parking lot, find them getting into their cars, told them the checkbook was not on the table, and you know, I need you to pay.”
“They laughed, and were like, ‘Oh, sorry, I see now that my son took it off the table. Here you go.’ Of course, there was no tip.”
11. Before you complain, remember: Someone reads those complaints.
“I work at McDonald’s,” wrote Bacontacosyum. “I’m what they call the ‘guest service manager,’ which means I get the joy of handling all our customer complaints. To be fair, 90 percent of them are what you’d expect: people having to wait too long for food, etc. Every now and then, you get crazy s***.”
What kind of crazy, ahem, stuff?
“I’ve had someone give us a bad score on our surveys because they thought we should carry shrimp fried rice—and this is in New Jersey. Someone gave us a bad score because the kid taking his order ‘looked like a pickle,’ and I had someone write in and say they had to wait one minute for their coffee to brew. This was at like 5 a.m., and we don’t brew it until the first person orders it, because it takes literally two minutes. That made him late for a meeting.”
“I don’t know, but if waiting one minute in the drive-thru is gonna make you miss a meeting, maybe just skip the coffee today.”