Monday, July 4, 2011

After the Red Bull Flutag Debacle

First of all, Congrats to Digicel's OBI WANTED RED BULL! Your skit was hilarious and you won, great fun.

KFC in the area, not so much fun. Today, I went to work not knowing what to expect. With RB FLUTAG in full swing on Sunday 3rd of July, I  was a bit apprehensive on how my fellow work-mates would fare this morning. If I could take a cue from the 2nd to last public holiday on May 30th 2011, I would say it might have been ten times worse.

Lets revisit May 10th 2011 shall we:

It was going to be the first time I had ever worked on a public holiday. Usually, we would get up in the morning at 6am, and head to Maracas Beach, in that way, we get our parking spot, liming spot and swimming spot. This time I had to work, fourth week into the job. I left early...on "Trini Time" (which means I left late), to get a taxi to take me to work. Fortunately, I got there fifteen minutes early. As I walked up to the entrance, I noticed that there were little groups of people milling around, some sad, some tired, some laughing, some faces. A lady stopped me in mid-entrance, "Hello, Hello what time y'll does open?", I replied at ten o'clock. "Buh whappon! Yuh doh see hungry people here ahwah!?" Translation: "What is happening? Don't you see that there are starving people here?" I smiled and knocked on the glass door. It was opened, and I went in.

Fifteen minutes came quickly, and soon there was a rowdy crowd of people in-front of the cashiers. Within, 10 mins all the chicken pieces were gone, and the fries pot was in full swing. hardly any of the customers wanted buttery corn, marinated cole slaw, and steaming mashed potatoes and gravy. They all wanted French fries.and each 12-piece combo entitled each customer to six side-orders, a two liter Pepsi, some paper boats, condiments cups, drinking cups, forks, napkins, etc. Some customers ordered three 12-piece combos. Which meant that other customers or they themselves had to wait 3 mins and 15 seconds for another batch of fries, which meant, that I became a machine:

tear top of frozen fries plastic bag
dump fries into basket
put basket into hot fat
press timer
go to fry bin
salt fries
scoop the hot salted fries
(insert occasional burn)
prepare sandwiches Cruncher or Zinger
return to the fries stove
take off timer
dump fries into heated fries bin
return baskets
go to the freezer
tear top of frozen fries plastic bag

Sometimes, my mental circuitry would got all hot and start to spark, and I would forget to turn on the timer for the fries, or forget to salt the fries, or mix up the sandwich order. Eventually, the newbies came, and although things were less hectic, my brain still could not fathom 1+1 or 2+2. I was forced to become automated. And, I stayed in an auto mode, never leaving to pee, for fear of breaking up the momentum. The entire staff, worked non-stop from 10am till I left, out of exhaustion, dizziness and shortness of breath at 4pm. By 3:00pm, mistakes started to occur, and tempers were flared, folks started fussing in the kitchen.

The customers were no better. Impatient, people started quarreling with the cashiers, customers who were served, came for more, unsure people asked questions that were already answered right before their very eyes. They asked questions like, "How much for the 15-piece combo? Why can't I get chips with that? Is only chicken yuh getting?" One of the employees who refilled the condiments section complained that people were emptying the ketchup and pepper pumps. Eventually, the pumps themselves stopped working and she had to clean the pumps and get them working again, before they again,stopped working, and customers complained about the lack of pepper and ketchup.

The employees who prepared the chicken pieces, began to burn out early because after a certain amount of chicken that is fried in the pots, the shortening/fat must be cleaned and sanitized along with the pot itself, for a new batch of chicken pieces. They too were also in automated mode and they were even more tired with each passing hour. When I logged out at 4pm, there was still a long line, and one of the new cashiers grew very frustrated and the Manager had to step in for him, he complained of headaches.

Back to FLUTAG

This morning, I came to work, and saw only three people in the kitchen area. I asked for the others and was told that they were very tired from the day before. I found out that they ran out of chicken completely, the Area manager had to bring more crates of chicken and customers were served sandwiches outside. One of the employees who came with the Area manager, said that when she came to the restaurant, the people out side were grabbing at her, and yelling, she stated that she just wanted to do a 180 degrees and return home, but they had brought crates of chicken and had only reached the restaurant an hour before closing time.

There were also tales of extreme traveling to get to the workplace. One employee walked about 3 to 5 miles before he was picked up by the Area Manager. Three employees from another branch walked for approximately two to three hours before they got to work. There were many reports of people getting robbed in their vehicles as they 'lined up' in traffic to attend the Flutag. One branch, hardly had anyone at work on that day, as their employees could not get a taxi to take them to work. One employee was picked up by an Army truck and so was able to open the restaurant. Me? It was my day off, and I rested to recover from my relentless asthma attacks from the week before, plus I was fully drugged.

Later one fellow employee joked that had I come to work yesterday, I would had had to take my asthmatic self and walk home. We both laughed.

When I returned to work, I simply cleaned and sanitized my area and did the fries. When I felt my chest heaving and my lungs complaining, I took a small break of about two mins, and started again. Its the most I can do for now, until better can be done.

Finally, I really enjoy blogging about my activities working in a fast-food restaurant. Somehow, it is like a curious adventure of a new experience, working at a job that is frowned upon various sectors of society, but to the men and women who work here, it is a combination of a few factors: a way to keep our heads above water, a way to be self-reliant, a way to exercise our freedom of right to live, a way to care for our families, or ourselves...or a means to an end.

2011©Lisa Marie Bonaparte

p.s. I have to get beck to illustrations, I simply do not have the time...

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