Bob Barcus > 2014 > May > Elitist Fast Food Workers

Elitist Fast Food Workers

Posted by Bob Barcus on May 8th, 2014

For centuries, it would seem that a person’s worth is somehow tied to their social status. That social status is usually tied to how much money that person makes in their career or how much material wealth he may possess. The ones with more money tend to demand more respect, even when they don’t deserve it. Those with less money are expected to shut up and obey their overlords without dissent.

It’s sad to think that we have been unable to change these “social norms” over the last century. Mankind has made enormous progress in medicine, industry and technology. It would seem that while innovation continues to burst forth (when it not being stymied by those in power), our attitudes towards our fellow man have made remarkably slow progress.

We know from our history that those in power typically don’t want to relinquish that power. We found that out during the American Revolution when King George III sent his redcoats to the colonies. He said, “Once vigorous measures appear to be the only means left of bringing the Americans to a due submission to the mother country, the colonies will submit.” He was wrong, of course, but it took a great deal of luck, courage and the deaths of thousands to make him wrong.

In our more recent history, the name Adolf Hitler brings a whole slew of emotions to the forefront. He said, “I don’t see much future for the Americans. It’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities.” In the end, the righteous prevailed, but the war to depose Hitler from power cost millions of lives. He continued, “Everything about the behavior of American society reveals that it's half Judaized, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold together – a country where everything is built on the dollar?”

From Hitler’s perspective, erasing the social inequalities from his society was of paramount importance. From King George’s perspective, it was his job to maintain those social inequalities. In both cases, each perspective was highly skewed towards one end of the spectrum with both men perceiving himself to be invincible and infallible.

You can actually take the two above examples and analogize them to elements in our modern politics. On the far left, you have those who wish to erase social inequality with “distributed wealth”. Those on the far right wish to maintain an elitist class of citizenry. Both sides are wrong.

There needs to be balance in our society if we are to flourish. People are too quick to jump to one side or another. A great example is the $15 per hour minimum wage controversy for fast food workers. Having worked as a fast food manager for several years and as a small business owner, I have a certain perspective that most people do not have.

When you see someone working in fast food, you might automatically think that the person behind the counter taking your order is nothing more than a snot-nosed brat. In many cases, you would be correct. They don’t have a family to support and they’re just making enough money to buy their next pair of cool shoes. But there’s actually another category of fast food workers that few people know about. They are the ones who have college degrees in various areas of study, with mortgage payments and kids to feed.

It may be hard to believe, but I hired all kinds of people who had some sort of higher education. Looks can be deceiving, especially when the person taking your order is wearing a simple uniform. I hired many people knowing full-well that they would not be working for me for an extended period of time. Those people were nurses, teachers, soldiers and factory workers who needed a second job to support their families. While the fanatics say “support our troops” every chance they get, they are the same ones who yell and scream at the Iraq war veteran working the drive-thru. They are the same ones who demand perfection from those whom they have already deemed lower class. If an elitist’s expectation of a fast food worker is already pre-determined, then what does that say about our society? As the old adage goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Our society likes to look at things from a very simple perspective – black versus white; good versus evil; right and wrong. It’s easier that way. The problem is that our world is a very muddy place. There are very few black and white issues. We like to look at everything in simplified terms and we couldn’t be more wrong.

It really bugs when issues get lumped together under a single slogan or a simple call to action. I don’t think most people really take the time to examine and study a problem before they pass judgment. It’s sad to think that our society labels everyone in fast food as worthless individuals who don’t deserve respect. Our “modern society” labels them as an inferior class not worthy of human kindness.

Fast food workers deserve our respect, just like any other human being. And the next time you go through the drive-thru at your favorite fast food restaurant, ponder the possibility that the person handing out your order could be a mathematical genius who studies how algebraic invariants of modules change upon degeneration (true story).


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