The Stigma of Fast Food Work

When a young father starts working nights in the fast-food industry while his wife finishes school, he recieves stigmatic reactions and wonders why someone should be shamed for trying to make an honest living.

| April 2016

  • "To him, I look like another wasted life, another victim. He thinks I got my girlfriend pregnant, that I never graduated from high school, that I can’t do any better than flip burgers at two in the morning. He feels sorry for my kids." - Joey Franklin
    Photo by fotolia/Christopher Howey
  • Modern manhood in confusing and complicated, but Joey Franklin, a thirty-something father of three, is determined to make the best of it. In “My Wife Wants You to Know I’m Happily Married,” he offers a frank, self-deprecating meditations on everything from male-pattern baldness and the balm of the blues harmonica to Grand Theft Auto and the staying power of first kisses.
    Cover courtesy Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska

With honesty and wit, Joey Franklin explores what it takes to raise three boys, succeed in a relationship, and survive as a modern man. My Wife Wants You To Know I'm Happily Married (University of Nebraska Press, 2015) is an uplifting rumination on learning from the past and living for the present, a hopeful take on being a man without being a menace to society. In this excerpt he discusses the stigma placed on the employees of the fast food industry, which he encounters while working at Wendy's.

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Working at Wendy's

It’s a quarter to nine in the evening, and I’m standing in front of the counter at Wendy’s. The restaurant smells of french fries and mop water. In my right hand I hold my résumé. I don’t know whether I need a résumé to apply for the Wendy’s night shift, but I bring it anyway. It anchors me as I drift toward the sixteen-year-old kid behind the counter and ask to speak to his manager.

Joseph Sanchez
8/27/2019 5:11:09 PM

I think that the point of this article is not here just to give reader's a sense of what it is like to work in a fast food establishment, and I say this because many individuals know what it is like; the environment, the humility that is required, and many other things, for the lack of a better word, that people many not ever become familiar with their entire lives. This article is deeper than that in my opinion. It talks about the daily 'struggles' that this man had to endure, and the judgement that he sometimes faced. Working at a fast food restaurant at 18 years of age takes some grit and humility because it can be a tough thing to stick with when there are so many different opinions on how things should be run. Yes, it is like this in other jobs, but in other jobs these people may be just as educated as you are, less educated, or more educated. However, in this guy's situation, he seems to be on the right track in life and just doing what he has to do to make it in life, whereas the people working with him seem to be enduring a lot more problems. For one, the girl who was caught with drugs that she claimed were her boyfriends because it was his jacket. Moral of the story, you should take some sort of pride in what you do, and have a reason for doing it, because that is what will keep you going in life.

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