Celebrity-based Reddit AMAs can get a little repetitive. After all, you can only hear Chris Pratt enthusiastically answer the same Jurassic World questions so many times. Fortunately, the user-generated site also uses the Ask Me Anything format to talk to real people doing regular jobs or, in the case of a new AMA, talk to a guy who worked at McDonald’s from 1970 to 1973, “when hamburgers were 20 cents and only white males were hired.” Though he’s now an engineer with a successful software career, user Dachjaw had lots of interesting stuff to say about his three tortured years behind the counter, including a description of his time as a “shot caller” his last summer at the restaurant. As he puts it,
The last summer I worked there, I was allowed to “call the shots”. Today, orders are input into the register and appear for the back room guys to cook. It was more complicated back then. Orders were taken on paper, unless they were short enough to remember. I earned a raise (not many were given) by being able to memorize orders up to five dollars, let’s say five people, while adding up the total and applying tax in my head.
The order taker would take what he needed from pre-cooked sandwiches in the bin, and the shot caller, almost always a manager, watched the levels of all of the different sandwiches and ordered new ones, a dozen at a time (six for Big Macs, ten for the later Quarter Pounders). It was a real art to order just barely the number that were needed without wasting any, especially when it was busy, because sandwiches that didn’t sell were thrown out after ten minutes. Usually.
He also had to keep an eye on the fries and shakes unless we were busy and had people dedicated to them.
I worked with plenty of managers who couldn’t call the shots well, and sometimes when working the grill I would deliberately mishear him and give him either more or less than he had called for. It was an art and I was good at it.
He also muses on the way the chain has (or hasn’t, in this case) changed over the past 40 years.
And, thankfully, he also says he never, ever spat in someone’s food, nor did he ever see anyone do it.
The whole thing is available now on Reddit, complete with hundreds of random user comments and questions about the state of fast food both past and present.