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.

To find more books that pique our interest, visit the Utne Reader Bookshelf.

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.

Sulaiman
9/20/2020 8:09:40 PM

He changes the perspective of fast food workers and also shows how other people judge fast food workers in his writing. He talks about the lives of different other people who do the job. He also lets the reader understand his story by going into detail of what happens at the workplace, pointing out vividly how a certain thing happened and explains it as clear as he can, creating that imagery and making the reader almost see it as it happened or as it is happening.


KatiaHjazeen
9/7/2020 5:31:59 PM

This story tells the backgrounds of various people who work in fast food restaurants. Each individual is different, whether it be their age, race, ethnicity, etc. Some people have to work to take care of their family while others may have to work to save money for further education. Plus, some people may also have to work for the simple reason of paying their bills. I think the point of this story is to show that people who work at fast food restaurants should not be judged just by their job. They all have their backgrounds and personal issues to deal with that may have lead them there. Moving forward to the man and his wife, it is not that he is jealous of his wife, rather that he learned to accept what he can do to help and how he had to sacrifice multiple things to take care of his household. Even though his wife may have a higher position professionally, he is doing what he can to contribute to his family not only financially, but also emotionally. Even the smallest deeds can do the most for people.


Adriana
9/6/2020 8:48:28 PM

This article is very interesting because it puts many things into a perspective that you may not have thought of before. By hearing Joe’s story, I personally have a different perspective of fast food workers. There are many people that judge fast food workers and many comments that I have heard about them. After reading this story it does make you think in a different way. It provides the lesson that you never know what another person’s story is, what is going on in their life, or why they may be doing something, so its important not to judge them. I’m sure we all have preconceived notions about many different jobs, but reading this story might just open your mind a bit.





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