Clean it Up
January 21, 2009 by The Constant Complainer
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When I was 18 years old, I had an experience that shaped me into the cleanliness freak I am today. I think sharing that story first will help you better understand today’s post.
When I was in high school and college, I worked at a fast food restaurant to earn some extra money. When first hired, I remember being conscious of cleanliness and the training I received reinforced that. However, I was young and to say that I didn’t exercise the “five second rule” on a few occasions would be untrue. Anyway, my parents moved when I was 18, so I had to transfer restaurants. On my first day at the new restaurant, I was working the bun station – this was back in the day when the buns were slightly toasted before being used for hamburgers. Right as the Maintenance Man happened to walk by, I dropped one of the buns on the floor. I quickly picked it up, mouthed “ssshhhhh” to him, put the bun back on the tray and kept working. He looked at me, pointed and loudly stated, “No!” He then said, “I’m sorry, but we have to have some standards.” I was embarrassed, apologized and threw the dirty bun away. He was absolutely right and I can still, plain as day, see him yelling at me. To say that this one event totally changed me would be an understatement.
I soon became the most feared restaurant policeman my friends had ever seen. This was not only at my side-job, but when I personally visited restaurants to eat. At work, I became the conscience of the restaurant and gained a reputation for serving the best quality food and adhering to all food cleanliness and expiration standards. The funnier stories are incidents that happened when I went out to eat. Anything could and would set me off. A bun dropping on the floor, seeing an employee touch money and then make my sandwich, employees scooping product up with their hands instead of using utensils, an employee sneezing or touching their hair and then touching my food, etc. The list could go on and on. Frankly, I almost started a business that would have offered mystery shops for restaurants because I believed so highly in this cause. And to think – all of this happened because a Maintenance Man had the guts to yell at me.
With that being said, I can get back to today’s post. One would think that after all these years, and the fact that cleanliness and germs are increasingly on many people’s minds, that certain restaurants would work to eliminate such problems. But we all know that it doesn’t work that way.
Out of respect for all the fast food restaurants that do a good job, I’ll tell you where I ate lunch yesterday. It was Wendy’s. Even though I have had countless issues at this location with cleanliness over the years, I continue to eat there. Yesterday’s experience was no different than many others. I ordered my food, stood there and watched while the Manager (who took my order) walked over to the food preparation area, started to make my sandwich without putting on latex gloves (or washing her hands), threw something in the trash, pushed the pile of trash down with her hands and then continued making my sandwich. Yuck! Another employee wiped her nose and touched her hair, while wearing latex gloves, but then didn’t change her gloves and continued making some other guy’s sandwich.
A lot of people may not care about this kind of stuff, but it drives me absolutely crazy. I worry about germs and food poisoning all the time.
I’m the one that set the bar for all of these dirty dining TV shows and awards that are being given out. I worried about it before anyone else did. Well, maybe not, but I’d like to think that I did. So shouldn’t I be able to expect as clean a restaurant and product as they can provide? Maybe that’s why I find myself going through the drive-through lanes more often these days – out of site, out of mind – you know.
I think rather than me continuing to complain about this problem to the Manager, which is what I normally do (along with requesting a new sandwich), maybe I should not visit this Wendy’s anymore and tell everyone I know to do the same. Perhaps that would help make them realize how potentially costly their behavior can be to the business…