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Episode 05: How I Became Employee Of The Month At Arby's

Storytellers: Eric Staiger

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Sometimes it takes dealing with a lot of shit to become Employee Of The Month at Arby's.

To set the scene for you, this would have been summer 2001. It was my first real job. I was about 16 years old, making $6 per hour at the local Arby's in Dent, Ohio.

You start out on the curly fries, make your way up to the register. It's not a glamorous life, but it pays the allowance money that your parents don't give you.

That was my first summer at Arby's. It went pretty well, I guess. Well, not really, because it's Arby's. It's fast food. If anyone has ever worked in a fast food restaurant, you kind of know how it goes.

So I made it through that first summer. One highlight of that summer was being out on the floor in the dining room, minding my own business. This was later on at night and we were trying to close up shop. There were a bunch of punk kids sitting out there and one of them decides to take his large soda, which was pretty much full, turn it over and dump it out right on the floor as I was mopping, just to mess with me.

Things like that just kind of happen at Arby's and you get used to it. You get beaten down. People are worried about getting their 10% Golden Buckeye discount on their Arby's sandwich. It's a lot of fun.

So second year. I went through a school year, and I was like, "Alright this is my second summer at Arby's, this is going to be even better than the first!"

As that summer is working it's way through, there was a time when my best friend at the time decided he was going to play a little prank on me. I had graduated up to the drive-thru by this point. It's pretty big-time stuff at Arby's.

So I'm working the drive-thru one night, minding my own business. He comes along driving his car. I hear, "I want a large cheeseburger with special sauce."

I was real polite. I said, "I'm sorry, sir, we don't have any cheeseburgers here at Arby's. Would you like to try a roast beef sandwich, or perhaps a market fresh turkey sandwich?"

"I want a large cheeseburger!" he says.

I spent about five minutes going back and forth with this guy who was my friend, but I didn't know it at the time.

I finally convinced him to get a beef and cheddar and then I see him pull a U-turn in the drive-thru, which is pretty hard to do. I'm like, "Who the hell is this?" and ran outside to find it was my friend.

Things like this just happened at Arby's. It's not a fun time.

But I persevered.

And in June of 2002 I was working on day, and all of a sudden, the manager (who was a short, fifty-something year-old lady named Rhonda, who had spent a lifetime at Arby's, dedicated to the roast beef sandwich), comes up to me and says, "I got a special job for you, but you're going to need some gloves."

And I said, "This can not be good."

She told me I needed to go to the men's restroom and there'd be a little mess in there that I would have to clean up, and I would need gloves.

I proceeded to venture into the mens restroom. I didn't notice anything at first. But then, I opened up the stall door. It was a sight to be seen.

You could not imagine the amount of shit just everywhere except inside the toilet. On the walls, on the floor. Everywhere.

It was my task to make sure the stall went from shitty to spotless.

I don't think I had the best cleaning tools. Maybe a spray bottle and some paper towels. I went at it there for a solid half hour to clean up this bathroom stall of shit.

About two weeks later, Rhonda approaches me and says, "You know you've really been doing a solid job here, kid. We're going to go ahead and award you the Employee Of The Month."

Not only did you get your name on the wall on a plaque—June 2002 Employee Of The Month at Arby's Dent. You got a whopping $10 gift card to Wal-Mart to spend at your leisure.

So, that was just one of the tales of how I became Employee Of The Month at Arby's.