Warning!!! Explicit Language Follows!
Like all the other millions in the world chained to their Facebook accounts, I was scrolling down my news feed today when I came across this:
I don’t usually put much stock into any meme. Most of them are amusing, and they are much easier to read than the paragraphs some of my friends are wont to post. These are the main reason I check my news feed. I like to have something to chuckle at. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, sometimes all I see are pictures I have already seen. In some rare cases, I come across these “gems” that make my blood boil.
I have very limited experience in the construction industry, I freely admit, but I do have some. I have never sat in this man’s chair, but I have hauled shingles onto a roof in the middle of August and swung that hammer. I have no doubt he needs to step down from his machine once in a while to do some hard manual labour. Any job in this field is physically demanding, some excruciatingly so, but let’s face it, this guy does most of his work from his comfortable seat. I’m sure he had to put in a lot of hours doing backbreaking work to get this position, and now he’s reaping the benefits of his ordeals. But look at him. Does it look like he’s working hard?
Now, the restaurant business is something I know much more about. I have spent over ten years in that industry. It all started at McDonald’s, in fact. I’ve done it all: flipped burgers, served customers, maintained the equipment, up to managing a restaurant. Only others who have worked in a fast food joint have any idea how hard the work actually is.
Those people slaving away at minimum wage may not have to hoist 50 lbs of materials on their backs. But they don’t have months to finish a job. They don’t have the luxury of taking their time to get the work done. Every single customer who comes through the restaurant’s doors expect their food as soon as they order it. Hell, some expect it to be ready by the time they reach the counter!
Go to a well-run McDonald’s and notice how many employees are just standing around, doing nothing. Yes, I said “well-run.” There are always some places that make any industry look bad. But compare a staff that’s doing it’s job like it’s supposed to to a crew of construction workers. How many of these supposedly more entitled crew members are actually running around to get their tasks done compared to leaning on shovels or against those machines that do all the heavy lifting for them?
You think pulling a lever and taking 3 months to pave a street is harder than having to assemble an entire meal in under 30 seconds? You think working an 8-hour day, with at least 2 scheduled, uninterrupted breaks and an hour lunch, is hard? Try staying for 10 hours, with your first break coming 6 hours into the shift, and having to get up to help only 10 minutes in. And an hour lunch? Ha, you can forget that. You’re lucky if you get a second chance to sit down. And you’re not sitting in that plush chair or walking from one spot of the construction site to the other while you work. In a restaurant, you need to run. There’s no taking your time and working at your own pace. The customers want their food now! Falling behind is inexcusable.
Here’s the proof this meme is bullshit!
I know everything above is comparing apples to oranges. The two industries are completely different. But I have experiences that prove my point.
As a restaurant manager, I have learned to avoid hiring construction workers. I still give them a chance, but they go down my list of candidates if this is the only experience they have.
Invariably, a manual labourer who jumps into the hospitality field always quits. Always. They can’t handle the stress. They all think it’s going to be easy because it can’t possibly be more physically demanding than what they’re used to doing. They learn they’re full of shit soon enough. The weight of what you have to handle is lighter, but they can’t handle the stop and go. They can’t keep up with having to run from one station to the other.
And having to stay later than they’re scheduled was also an issue. Most expected to continue having a quitting time set in stone. Having to ask if they were okay to go at the end of their shift was something new to them. Needing them to stay an extra half-hour was a big deal. I’m sure some of them wouldn’t have minded staying for overtime in their old jobs, but the work was easier and they would be compensated for the extra time with better pay. Getting paid straight time was unthinkable! But that’s how things work at minimum wage level.
Most of all, they didn’t like being treated like slaves. That is what we lowly burger flippers are to the rest of the world. I always treat my employees with respect, but I still demand they do their jobs. And their job is to fulfil the customers’ wishes. And a lot of patrons don’t shy away from treating the servers and cooks like shit. The only reason it isn’t called slavery is because the employees are getting paid. But that doesn’t change the fact the patrons expect their waitress to run off when they ask for a refill.
Construction workers don’t need to deal with the public. They just show up for work and do their jobs. Like every other industry, some work really hard while others do as little as possible. But hardly ever do they need to deal with a screaming customer. This happens daily at McDonald’s, and every other restaurant. There’s always someone who isn’t happy who think they can bully their way into getting something for free.
So, while that guy gets to sit on his seat and tans while pushing buttons and pulling levers, the lowly fry cooks bust their ass to get things done and have to take shit for mistakes that most likely have nothing to do with them. And they do it for less than half the pay that guy is getting for smoking and chewing on that straw.
Get the facts!
Before you go and propagate any statement, you should make sure you know what you’re talking about. If you want to compare jobs, you had better have spent time working in both industries. Otherwise, you’ll just end up looking like a dick.
And if any of you construction workers want to call this post bullshit, feel free to contact me. I can find a way to get you behind that McDonald’s counter so you know exactly what the CSR’s and cooks go through. I guarantee you’ll change your tune and become a firm supporter of the wage hike.