The thick, warm, muggy air hung heavy. The place was
filled with many odd smells. Mostly grease, a bit of piss too, but that’s
not something we like to know. The fatty grease unleashed a pungent
smell into the atmosphere. The floors were smooth, but were incredibly
tacky with the thousands of feet treading across it each day. The feet
of men, women, and many, many darling children, playfully running about,
emitting high pitched screams that would make even banshees jealous.
The floors also contained the remains of many previous meals and food
substances. Again, mostly grease, but a few pieces of food was sometimes
trampled into it. The tables were the same, tacky. You place a drink
on it and you had to use a crowbar to prise it off again. You lean on
it with your elbow and the paramedics have to pay a visit. There was
a lot of gum under them too. You only had to bump the bottom of the
table with your knee to get a load of pink sticky rubber clinging forcefully
onto your trousers. Sort of like super gluing a slug to your knee. Plants
hung about the area to make the place more family orientated, but even
they were fat. You squeezed a leaf and got a fistful of grease in your
hand. The ceilings housed thirty-year-old sprinkler systems, which would
be as effective at tackling a fire as would a can of oil, coated in
a layer of aerosol. The whole place was plastic. The floor was plastic,
the tables were plastic, and if you haven’t guessed so already,
yes, even the food was plastic.
Yes, life is fun in a fast-food establishment. Now with the eighteen-hour-a-day
burger-flipping, chip-frying, puke-inducing labour called work, you
leave with £2.54 each day and get very polite, understanding and
considerate customers to serve all the time.
“Where’s my food you little shit!” Blasted a loud
voice, cutting through the screeching of the many so-called kids in
the so-called restaurant.
“I ordered that thing twenty three seconds ago! Now where is it!?”
the man cried, banging his oversized fist on the counter.
Edward looked over to the bellowing man, who was about forty and balding,
with a thick, walrus moustache containing remains of his last meals.
He had sufficient flab to create a small child, and had wide staring
Edward scowled. He had deep consideration in spitting in the man’s
burger, which he was just putting together, but he had used up all of
his saliva in the milkshake. So, he opted to throw extra gherkins in
the burger, crush it with the top half of the bun, and lobbed it in
the polystyrene packaging. He dumped the man’s ‘food’
in the bag, making sure he spilled the fries as he did so, and took
it over to him.
“Have a nice day sir!” smiled Edward, infusing the sentence
with all the insincerity and sarcasm he could. He made sure he put on
a big grin on his face, to emphasise his displeasure.
The man grumbled to himself, and stormed off.
Edward let out a huge sigh, and went over to the wall. He then stood
there for about a minute with his forehead against it, gazing down into
the greasy floor below him, asking himself over and over the same question.
“How the hell did I end up here.”
There was a small dent where his forehead rest. He’d leant against
it sufficient times to wear away a small groove in the wall.
He was just about starting to relax, when an ear-piercing noise shot
through his skull.
“Oi! Ain’t ya ganna serve mei?”
He twisted his head and swore under his breath.
At the counter, he saw a girl of about fifteen. She was chewing gum,
and had about five piercings in her face alone. He dreaded to imagine
how many others there were. She had her hair scraped back in a ponytail,
and had so much mascara and eye-shadow on, that she looked a bit like
a panda. Only she mated more often, looked anorexic and unfortunately
wasn’t a very rare thing. She was wearing a pink tracksuit top.
Under her arms were two kids, and a third was resting in a nearby pram.
“Well?” she screeched. “Wha-dya fink you are, God
or summink? I wan’ phree large fries, two for me and one for mee-shell”
“Sure, and do you want a happy meal for the three fathers aswell?”
Edward muttered to himself.
At the end of a painstaking day, Edward left his shift, and set off for
home. But just as he was leaving, his manager poked his head out of his
“Ah, yes, Edward. Come here lad”
Edward rolled his eyes and turned around to face his boss.
“Right this way, I have something to give you!”
His boss gestured with his finger, and was beaming quite proudly.
Edward plodded into his boss’ office, hoping he would be presented
with a retirement fund and an all-expenses paid trip to the Caribbean.
“Now, Edward. For your expertise on the counter, I would like the
He held up a small gold star, with a smiley face imprinted on it. It was
cheap, plastic, and incited about as much interest in Edward as a carrot
Edward stared at it.
“What is it?”
“What do you mean? ‘What is it?’ It’s a gold star!
You’ve earnt it my lad! That service you showed me today was utterly
spectacular! More workers should be like you!”
“But I was…”
“…That brilliant show of insincerity and sarcasm was truly
Edward paused in disbelief. “Say what, sir!?”
“That sarcastic comment you made to the fat bloke! All those sarcastic
comments you made today! I’m rewarding you for those!”
Edward looked around nervously, unsure whether his boss was setting him
up for a joke. He was sure that his boss would start laughing, and the
plant in the office would suddenly stand up, and say “We got you
on hidden camera! How does it feel?” Edward decided to bite the
bullet anyway. “Why?”
“Why? What do you mean ‘Why?’ Because, my lad, that’s
the way we work! You’re following the fast-food code! So I’m
rewarding you for obeying orders!”
“What’s this ‘Fast-food code’?”
His boss took a seat and lit a cigar. He was a tall man, but had a bit
of a stomach to him, he wore a suit and had combed back, black hair. “Well,
you see, every time a company starts up; it’s given a set of rules
to abide by. You know, disability stuff, safety and what-not. But fast-food
industries are given a special one, yes. You see, we offer the lowest
standards around, and we have rules to follow to ensure we do that.”
That explained the rat in his burger which put Edward off fast-food ten
years ago. He knew that the odd rat body-limb in a burger wasn’t
uncommon, but he never expected a live one, which decided that Edward
looked rather nice for a snack, and attack him. Edward only saw the top
half of the bun attacking him, so he ended up running around the restaurant
shouting “HELP! BURGER!” Boy that was painful. Even more painful
was the fact that he had to try and explain it to policemen afterwards,
who fell on the floor laughing. One of them had to go to casualty for
laughing too hard. Edward decided to stop reminiscing about his nightmares
after the event, about giant killer burgers with rats, and get back to
the current award ceremony with his boss. “I see”
“And so, as you’re following the rules, I’m awarding
you the star with the smiley face on! That one’s the insincere one!
You’re also working your way up to the drinks badge, due to your
fine spitting efforts!”
He pinned the badge onto Edward’s name tag
“Wear it with pride my boy!” he said, clenching his fist with
honour. Edward was amazed at how seriously this man took the award.
Edward started to back out of the office. “Er…yeah, thanks
very much, but I’ve got to go…” He moved hastily to
As he exited, he heard a voice behind him. “Save it for the customers,
lad! Don’t be insincere with me!”
Edward left before he had to endure more of his bosses ‘pep-talk’.
Boy he hated this place.