When he was 15, my older brother worked at Burger King. When I was 14 I worked at the local bagel shop, then an ice cream parlor.
Fast food restaurants rely on a steady supply of very young and unskilled workers.
Though my brother was glad to have a job and enjoyed taking orders, he didn’t last long at Burger King.
The low salaries, inconvenient hours, sometimes sadistic managers, and the often mind-numbing nature of a job at McDonald’s or Burger King make the fast food industry an undesirable place to work.
Even in this down economy, “Now Hiring” signs are everywhere. Turn-over in the fast food industry is high.
Even though the manager taught us to rip off customers by making ice cream scoops that were hollow inside and intimidated us by randomly weighing the ice cream to make sure we did not give too much, I always appreciated having a job as a teen, and I expect my kids will work. My brother remembers learning responsibility at Burger King. He was proud he got a paycheck every week, paid his taxes, and learned the right way to sweep a floor.
But according to Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, it’s not just brain-effacing to work in the fast food industry. It’s often dangerous.
In 1998, the year for which Schlosser compiled statistics, more restaurant workers were murdered than police officers on the job.
Because fast food businesses take in a lot of cash, they are easier to rob than convenience stores or gas stations.
Robberies are most frequent when the restaurants open in the morning and when they close at night. During these times there is usually just a skeleton crew of teenager workers and a manager opening or closing the stores.
Schlosser writes that hundreds of fast food restaurants are robbed every week, often by former employees, who must feel disenfranchised and abused by the industry that employed them in such unfavorable working conditions.
“In recent years: Armed robbers struck nineteen McDonald’s and Burger King restaurants along Interstate 85 in Virginia and North Carolina. A former cook at Shoney’s in Nashville, Tennessee, became a fast food serial killer, murdering two workers at a Captain D’s, three workers at a McDonald’s, and a pair of Baskin Robins workers whose bodies were later found in a state park. A dean at Texas Southern University was shot and killed during a carjacking in the drive-through lane of a KFC in Houston. The manager of a Wal-Mart McDonald’s in Durham, North Carolina, was shot during a robbery by two masked assailants. A nine-year-old girl was killed during a shootout between a robber and an off-duty police officer waiting in line at a McDonald’s in Barston, California. A twenty-year-old manager was killed during an armed robbery at a Sacramento, California, McDonald’s…” (86-87).
It’s not enough that fast food is contributing to the rise in obesity and juvenile diabetes among American children. It’s not enough that endangered rain forests are clear cut to raise cattle. It’s not enough that the cows that become hamburger patties suffer terribly while they are alive and are killed inhumanely. Fast food restaurants endanger our children by exposing them to the potential of being murdered.
It’s time for us to take our children elsewhere to eat.