It’s five minutes until closing time. It’s dead silent, you’re alone up in front, and there isn’t a customer in sight. I guess can start closing up, you think cheerfully. You turn your back for not even a split second, and THEY come in. THEY being a large group of late night college kids, hungry from traveling to see a game. This is the worst group of customers you will ever experience, and they always come right before close. They are the loudest, messiest, most obnoxious group on the face of this earth.
This is only one of the many forms of emotional trauma you will experience on your journey through closing a popular fast-food joint. This doesn’t even cover the stress felt from dealing with incapable coworkers, accidents, and added stress from manager duties. I also can’t forget the anger felt when the overnight maintenance guy calls in an hour before he’s supposed to show up because he just “couldn’t wake up.” This happens every week, generally on Fridays.
Perhaps you agreed to be a closer without knowing what it involved. Lucky you. Perhaps I should enlighten you what else you have to do besides the aforementioned.
A perfect close would be a night that you have as little orders as possible, and six closers with overnight maintenance scheduled. The busier you are with orders, the more time it will take to get your closings tasks done. A crappy close would have a bare minimum of two closers, no maintenance, and steadily busy. I have never experienced the perfect close nor the crappy close. There are five stations to close- lobbies, front, kitchen, dish, and management.
Welcome to closing lobby. You must be new. This is because this is the easiest of the five, and usually the fresh meat gets to do it. However, you get to deal firsthand with the grossness in which customers behave. You get to clean up the kid’s snot, the spilled drinks, and the bathroom horrors. And the thing that will annoy you the most is when customers coming in while you're cleaning. Already swept that spot? Too bad, do it again.
First take a cloth, and wipe down every table, counter, and surface. Don’t forget to clean the drink station and stock it. After that change all the garbages, which have a bad habit of ripping and spilling all over the floor. After this, check the state of the bathrooms. Needs a sweep? Do it. Mirrors need to be cleaned? Clean them. Did someone decide to use excrement as play-doh? Well, tell the maintenance guy. If it’s his night off, however, then the awful task falls on you. After all this, give the floor a good sweep, and congratulations! You’re done.
Preferably a manager closes the front counter area. But if that is not an option, welcome to the most cleanly job. Lucky for you, you don’t have to deal with the disgusting tasks the others have to do. The only issue a person may have is that you have to deal with all customers all night, and all their complaints. Keep in mind that the customer is always right, even when their not.
Keep everything clean, take away every plastic and metal dishes to the dish person. Once they're cleaned, take them back and put them away. You also need to make sure that everyone else is keeping on task. If one person is fooling around, they bring the whole operation down.
After you feel you have wiped every surface down for the last time, sweep your area. Every fry and stray piece of Mcflurry candy must be swept up. Switch out the metal coffee pots for the glass ones. At close, happily lock the doors and the windows. Now go help the others finish up.
Welcome to hell. Not literally, but it sure feels like it. You are surrounded by grills, fryers and heated tables. If you don’t like tight, warm spaces the kitchen might not be for you. If you can’t handle multitasking under pressure, go back and try the lobbies.
Like front, you want everything to be cleaned and sparkling. But because you're dealing with food sauces and grease, this can be very difficult. You will learn to hate stray shredded lettuce, as it gets literally everywhere. You have the most dishes to take back in the kitchen, and also the grossest. If you’ve never seen (or smelled) a large amount of grease congealed on a pan, you aren’t missing much.
Other than that, kitchen can be pretty simple. If you don’t like dealing with bratty customers, this place is perfect as you only come in contact with their food.
Closing dish can be summed up a few choice terms. You will bleed. Your hands will hurt. Chemical stings. And you will never know what it feels like to be dry again.
The worst feeling in the world is spraying out a ketchup container and have it spray back at you, covering you in a tomato-ey paste. Might as well just hose yourself down, you’re already soaking wet.
Some try to combat the water by covering their shoes and clothes in plastic trash bags. But believe me, it doesn’t work. The water always finds a way, you cannot escape it.
However, dish is pretty simple, and can be fun. The dish area is in the back with three large sinks and a power hose. The first sink is for sudsy water, the second for rinsing, and the last for sanitizing. There's nothing like being back there by yourself, jamming to your own music for hours, not interrupted by orders. Have fun walking in your water-logged shoes afterwards.
This is the easiest thing to close, besides lobby. Perhaps this is why it’s a manager's only task. You sit in the tiny office for an hour or so and stare at numbers, make calculations, and enter more numbers. It’s all simple math, but sadly not all fast food workers are capable of understanding it. Counting drawers will be your favorite thing to do. If you’ve never held eight-thousand dollars in your hand at once, this is where you can. Don’t try anything funny. You’re on camera.
Essentially you get to sit on your butt, eat, jam to music, and only come out at the end to check that everyone else is getting their stuff done. This is one of the few perks of being a manager.
Closing is not for the faint hearted. You need to be patient, cunning, agile and compassionate. You have to be able to run back and forth between stations, dodging obstacles crowding the tight spaces. You have to put yourself in the shoes of your customers, and also your coworkers. If you do choose this time to work, you not only get paid, but you join the amazing family of closers who all work in harmony. If you’re not interested, that’s fine. Have fun with the day people.