We’ve all seen someone do it, or have even tried to do it ourselves – ordering a kids meal to try and save a couple of dollars. But when this fast food employee discovered why this teenager ordered a kids meal from him, he was absolutely devastated. This is his story.
Today, as my shift was ending, it was particularly quiet. One kid comes in and he looks probably 16 or 17. Wasn’t sure at first because he was pretty tall but the skinny body and acne were a giveaway of his youth. He comes up and asks for the kids meal and asks for a specific toy (one of the birds from Rio 2). In my mind I go, “Ugh, another one of these” but something was not right. There wasn’t a group of snickering friends behind him or any trace of trolling in his face. So I ring it up, he gets his order and goes to sit and I think nothing more of it.
I was staying overtime and there were only about 5 tables occupied so I decided to start clearing up some of the messier ones. I notice the skinny guy is sitting in the corner booth staring at his phone and not touching the meal. I get closer to him as I clean up each table and when I’m next to him I can’t help but notice that he’s crying. Not like sobbing or anything but his face was flushed bright red and he’s constantly wiping tears and snot off his face between fiddling his phone.
Now I don’t have a bleeding heart for strangers but this guy looks really helpless so I ask him what’s up. Just so you know, I am absolute sh*t at comforting people so this was roughly our back and forth:
Me: Hey, are you alright?
Me: Was your meal… uh, not satisfactory?
Him: I was supposed to meet my sister here. It’s her birthday and I wanted to give her this bluebird (forgot the name) because she loves this movie.
Me: Aw, that sucks man. Yeah, being stood up is never fun. It’s alright, I’m sure you’ll get another chance to give it to her.
Him: Our parents are separated and they’re keeping us apart. We meet here some days because she walks home from [nearby primary school] and her mom doesn’t want her to see me or my dad. *incoherent mumbling* drive all the way here on her birthday.
Me: Sorry, man. Listen, you’re a great guy and I hate to see you down on your luck. Anything I can do to help?
He keeps on and on about texting her and apparently his sister’s mom found out they’ve been meeting secretly and decided to drive her to and from school so she doesn’t get another chance. From what I gather, it’s his step sister because he never refers to the mother as mom – always her mom. and he says that he and his dad are trying to keep in touch but the mom is having none of it. What a mess. I ponder asking him to describe her to me so I could maybe give her the toy if I ever see her (we get a lot of students from that school) but I did not like the idea of approaching grade 6 schoolgirls in the off chance that I’d find the sister so I could try give her a toy as a favor her brother asked me, like that’s not totally creepy. I’m already a minimum wage earning loser who has no social life, I’m not going to be pegged as a pedophile too.
I sat with him for a while and he tells me about how they always got along and their parents used them as pawns in their sham of a marriage and he and his sister always felt like they only had each other. Like I said, I’m sh*t at comforting people so all I could ask was if he had anyone to talk to about it, because I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to help much. He says no and I end up giving him my mobile number and getting back to work because my supervisor was giving me the death glare of “why the f*ck are you sitting down with a customer” and I think that if I can help this guy even a little bit, it could make a world of difference. I tell him to text me if he ever needs someone to talk to.
Three hours since I got off my shift and I still haven’t heard from him. There really isn’t an ending here, but today I realized how trivial my misery was. Just working at a fast food chain is sh*tty in itself, but it’s a situation I chose to put myself in. But this kid is in a world of hurt and he doesn’t deserve any of it. I often see posts about being depressed or feeling like sh*t because of their job, but in the end it’s just a job. You can quit, you can try to do better. It’s not like this guy, whose family life is crumbling right before him. I’m lucky to have my parents to call or my brother to talk to when I feel like venting out the misery of my job but what do you do when it’s your life?
I’m definitely going to call my parents tonight.
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