The Customer is Always… Wrong: Tales from Wednesday Overnights at Burger King


So I’m an Assistant Manager at a 24-hour Burger King. This means that on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, I work the overnight shift (8 or 10 pm – 6 am). And no, despite what some might think, this can’t be described as the “graveyard shift” because, in fact, it gets pretty busy… especially around 1:30am, because the bars literally right across the street close at 2am.

This is already bad enough because dealing with drunk people after midnight is a nightmare. But my friends on Facebook discovered something… Wednesday overnights are the absolute worst. Why, I do not know. I don’t understand what it is about Wednesday nights/Thursday mornings, but the people who come through are absolutely, completely, and utterly terrible. Rude, ignorant, entitled, drunk, and annoying, they are, without a doubt, the worst customers of my entire week.

Featured below are some choice examples that are clearest in my memory from Wednesdays only, including a few from my most recent one. I won’t be putting these in any kind of order. They are from different Wednesdays, and I can remember approximate times but not specific dates (except for the very last one). So don’t assume there’s a chronology to this. Other than being Wednesday overnights, and putting the one that brought on the panic attack last, there is no chronological order here.

And finally… some of these may seem like I was set off by nothing. But you need to keep the context explained above in mind. I could write volumes on Wednesday overnights alone at this Burger King, featuring literally every customer that comes through. I’m only pulling out what I recall as the clearest in my memory. Also remember that I have very serious and very severe anxiety. My “calm” state is most people’s anxiety-attack state. So my stress levels balance on a knife-edge as it is, and tip way too easily. So these are things to keep in mind. In all of these cases, I’m already overly stressed. These are, for the most part, the straws that broke the camel’s back.

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The scene: 4:10 am. We’ve stopped serving dinner and started serving breakfast. I flipped the drive-thru menu to breakfast at 3:52am. Burger King now does burgers at breakfast, but not until 7am. To be fair, this is not stated on the menu, so the customer’s initial order is to be expected:

Me: Thank you for choosing Burger King. My name is Nathan. What can I get you for breakfast this morning?

Customer: Can I get a Whopper, Jr?

Me: I’m sorry, but we are currently doing breakfast at this time, and we don’t start selling burgers until 7am.

Customer: Oh. Um… but I’m looking at the lunch menu.

Me: Um… no sir, that’s the breakfast menu. Sausage biscuits, croissants…

Customer: Oh… um… then can I get a number 13…

(The number 13 is a cheeseburger meal. I have already told him that we don’t start selling burgers until 7am.)

Me: As I said, there are no burgers until 7am.

Customer: Oh. Then… um… can I get a number 3, double ham?

(The number 3 is a muffin sandwich. Not a double. I just assumed he was tired and/or drunk.)

Me: A ham muffin meal? Small, medium, or large?

Customer: Small. With a coke to drink.

Me: [gives price] Second window, please.

Customer: [sits at first window for three minutes]

Me: [sticks head out window] Sir! Up here! Second window!

(The customer drives up to the second window, and looks at me, clearly awake, apparently sober, not at all apologetic.)

Customer: Just to confirm, that’s a double ham croissant, right?

Me: [Now quite pissed off and failing miserably to hide it] No sir. You asked for a number 3, a ham muffin. Which I confirmed with you. The double croissant is the number 2.

Customer: Oh… well, I want the number 2, then.

(So I void out the number 3, ring the number two, cash him out, give him his coke, and ask the cook to give his food to him because if I do I’ll cuss him out. On the void ticket, the reason I give for the void is “the customer didn’t understand our menu board and is an idiot.”)

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The scene: 3:45am. This particular Wednesday was insidiously stressful, with numerous voids both before and after End-Of-Day. So I was already really angry and stressed by this point. We’re preparing to shut down the broiler and start preparing for breakfast when we get a car.

Me: Thank you for choosing Burger King. My name is Nathan. May I take your order?

Customer: Yeah. can we get the 2 for $5 whoppers, with cheese, extra hot, cut in half, two large fruit punches, and two large fries?

Me: Anything else?

Customer: That’s it.

Me: Second window, please.

(The customer proceeds to sit at the drive-thru menu for a good five minutes before coming to the window.)

Customer: [hands me a coupon for a 10-piece nugget and a large fry]. Yeah. Can we get this and two small cokes?

Me: [confused] Along with your other order?

Customer: What other order?

Me: [knowing that I’m going to have yet another void] The 2 whoppers, two fruit punches, and two large fries?

Customer: We didn’t order that! We want this!

(So I proceed to void out the other order, ring up the new one, cash them out, and after doing so, walk to the back of the store and scream myself hoarse. I won’t repeat what I wrote as the reason for the void because of how vulgar and rude it was. I’m kind of surprised no one’s said anything to me about it, yet.)

———————————————————-

The scene: 2:30am. Please note that our drive-thru menu board is very easy to understand. The prices are there and easy to read. If you can’t read them, then it’s probably a very bad idea for you to be driving.

Me: Thank you for choosing Burger King. My name is Nathan. May I take your order?

Customer: May I get the Whopper Jr, a 4-piece chicken nugget, a value fry, a value satisfry, and a cup of water?

Me: Is that all?

Customer: That’ll be it.

Me: Your total is $5.37, second window please.

(As I prepare to fill the water and bag his food…)

Customer: [still at the menu] How is it $5.37? It should be under $4.

Me: No, sir. You ordered a Whopper Jr, which is $1.49, a 4-piece nugget, which is $1, a value fry, which is $1.29, a value satisfry, which is $1.59, and the water is free.

Customer: What the fuck? I thought this was a dollar menu? You know… a fuckin’ dollar? Y’all are fuckin’ thieves, you know that? Whatever… can I just get the Whopper Jr, nuggets, and regular fries?

Me: [voids out original order, turns off microphone so I can scream, then turns microphone back on] Second window, please. [turns of microphone] You fucking goddamn piece of shit asshole.

(I put “doesn’t understand basic math” as the reason for the void.)

———————————————————-

The scene: 1:18am. I feel like… if you’re so drunk that you can’t tell the difference between a Burger King and a Taco Bell, then maybe you shouldn’t be driving.

Me: Thank you for choosing Burger King. My name is Nathan. May I take your order?

Customer: Can I get a cheesy gordita crunch?

Me: This is Burger King, sir, not Taco Bell.

Customer Oh… well… can I get one, anyways?

Me: You’ll have to go to Taco Bell, sir.

Customer: But Burger King is all “have it your way”, ain’t it?

Me: Only with the food we have in the kitchen, sir. We don’t have anything that could even come close to making any of the food Taco Bell makes.

Customer: Well fuck y’all, then.

(The customer then speeds around, flicks me off at the window, pulls onto the street, onto the grass, and proceeds to get pulled over by a cop.)

———————————————————-

The scene: 11:25 pm. I do not like making hand-spun shakes. They take too long, get me messy, and are especially annoying to make when it’s busy. Also, we have one machine that does both ice creams and shakes. So when the ice cream machine is down, this means no cones, no sundaes, and no shakes.

Wednesdays are usually busy before midnight, but this particular Wednesday was insane. We had cars weaving the parking lot and onto the road. Please note that the lobby closes at 10pm, and for some mysterious and utterly unintelligent reason I’ve never been able to figure out, only two people are staffed for overnights: the assistant manager and the cook.

Me: Thank you for choosing Burger King. My name is Nathan. May I take your order?

Customer: Can I get 6 large strawberry shakes, 3 small mango smoothies, 2 warm Oreo brownie sundaes, and 2 vanilla cones?

Me: I’m sorry, but our ice cream machine is down.

(The ice cream machine was not down, but not even the threat of being fired could make me prepare this order while it was this busy. No way in hell. And my boss sympathized with me when I explained it to her the next day.)

Customer: So can I get the shakes?

Me: The ice cream machine is also our shake machine. So sorry, but it’s impossible.

Customer: I’m confused.

Me: About?…

Customer: What do you mean “our ice cream machine is also our shake machine”? Ice cream and shakes are different.

Me: Um… shakes are made with ice cream. Our machine does both.

Customer: Well that’s fucked up. All right then. Thanks anyway…

(The customer proceeds to sit in the line for a good ten minutes [food had to be cooked for the orders before] just to drive off. I would have done the smoothies, though, since those don’t use ice cream.)

Shockingly, there are no more really bad stories to tell from this particular rush, although it didn’t end until just after 1am. I’m rather surprised I didn’t have a panic attack on this night. It took until my most recent Wednesday to actually experience a panic attack, as my Facebook friends already know.

———————————————————-

The scene: 12:53am. We’re nearing the tail end of a slightly-busier-than-normal Wednesday dinner rush. I have the fryers half done (filtered and cleaned, that is), but hadn’t been able to go back to them since 10:00pm. I was already over-stressed from the day, and from the two previous hours before overnight started (I clocked in at 8pm, overnight starts at 10pm). The dinner customers were largely horrible as well, especially one couple who utterly refused to leave until after 10:30pm, despite the fact that the lobby closes at 10pm and they had been asked multiple times to leave.

So this customer pulls up at 12:53am…

Me: Thank you for choosing Burger King. My name is Nathan. May I take your order?

Customer: Can I get a number 2 with a Dr. Pepper?

Me: Small, medium, or large?

Customer: Um… regular.

(I am so sick of people saying “regular”. What fast food place has “regular” as a size? “Regular” is not a size. I may start just ringing up “large” when people say that.)

Me: I don’t understand. Small, medium, or large?

Customer: I said regular!

Me: We don’t have a “regular”. We have small, medium, or large. The prices on the menu are for small.

Customer: That’s what I want, then.

Me: Do you want cheese on that double whopper?

(The number 2 is a double whopper meal.)

Customer: Doesn’t it come with cheese?

Me: No sir it does not. You can add cheese for 50 cents.

Customer: Hell no.

Me: Okay, so you want a number two, small, with a Dr. Pepper. Anything else?

Customer: Nope. That’ll be it.

Me: [gives price] Second window, please.

(He’s of course two cars from the end of this rush, so there’s a line ahead of him. By the time he gets to the window, his order has already been made and bagged. All that’s needed is to cash him out and send him on his way.)

Customer: [at window] Could you put cheese on that?

Me: It’s going to add 50 cents to your order.

Customer: What?

Me: I explained this to you when you were at the menu board. Cheese is 50 cents extra. And besides… your order has already been made. It’s right here.

(The customer angrily shoves his credit card in my hand. I cash him out and hand him his food, card, and receipt. I then go to hand him his drink.)

Customer: [referring to the drink] What is this? Where’s my shake?

Me: You want to buy a shake?

Customer: I’m not paying twice! I asked for a shake!

Me: Sir, you asked for a Dr. Pepper. I even confirmed this with you.

Customer: What the hell is wrong with you?

Me: Do you want this soda?

(The customer grabs the soda in a huff and leaves. My anxiety has fallen off the knife at this point, but I have to put on a mask to cash out the last two cars, which thankfully are just a whopper and a cheeseburger respectively. I then proceed to have a panic attack. And then I post to Facebook.)

———————————————————-

As I said… these are just a few snapshots; some choice moments that pushed me over the edge. For the record, I don’t hate this job… just the customers that come through. This is very macabre, I know, but if I could ever go back in time, the first thing I’d do is find the person or people who came up with the whole “the customer is always right” thing and kill them before they can come up with it.

Seriously, though, I’m quite convinced that it was originally coined ironically. I feel like the person who came up with it did so not seriously at all, but as a sarcastic way of referring to just how horrible customers can be. Then, for some reason, this ironic statement was taken unironically, spread, and became what it is today.

And I think that because the only other option is that it was thought up by someone who had never, in his or her entire life, actually done customer service. Because if you have done customer service, there is no way you could seriously think “the customer is always right”.

On a slightly related note, if you want more evidence that the customer is always wrong, I highly recommend visiting Not Always Right. It’s a great site for a lot of laughs, and also proves my point.

I’ll leave you all with one last anecdote, this one more for humor as I found it funny, not frustrating:

The scene: 9:59pm. We’ve already closed out the front counter registers and are locking the doors when a child runs in through the last open door with literally 5 seconds left before the lobby closes at 10pm.

Me: I’m so sorry, but the lobby’s closed. Drive-thru is open, however.

(I walk the child to the door and back outside when his mother walks up.)

Mother: He got here before 10.

Me: About five seconds before, yeah. The registers are already closed and it’s now 10:01.

Mother: So y’all close before 10? Bullshit. I’m calling Corporate.

(She turns around and angrily drags her seemingly confused child back to her car.)

Me: Okay. Have a wonderful evening!

(This Burger King is a franchise. This is made very clear on signs, as well. It is not run by Corporate, and calling Corporate to complain means utterly nothing because they really can’t do anything to us. So call Corporate. See if we care.)

About Nathan Hevenstone

I hate straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men.
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4 Responses to The Customer is Always… Wrong: Tales from Wednesday Overnights at Burger King

  1. Holy fuckballs Nate! I’ve worked in the restaurant industry my entire life, and I’ve heard some…whoppers (sorry for that), but some of these tales are freaking hilarious. I know how stressed out you were feeling bc I’ve been right there. I also know that in hindsight stories like these are amusing, but when you’re in the weeds, you want to scream at the tops of your lungs, yell at the guest, pull your hair out or all of the above.

  2. Well, these anecdotes are now added to the many reasons I believe fast food workers wages should be raised.

  3. Aww, Nate…I’m so sorry, but I can’t help it: with the exception of the anxiety attack (which is really and truly horrible), the rest of this post is so funny I literally LOL’d. Your vivid descriptions of these asinine tools and your reactions are priceless—especially the void receipts! I hope your writing this has at least helped you process some of the stress and anxiety in some way, but regardless, I’m damn near certain it’s helpful to anyone who has ever worked on the front lines of customer service. We can all recognize these characters in one form or another, and have surely on occasion dealt with similar encounters with less grace and panache than we might wish we could conjure in the moment. This piece not only generates feelings of empathy and solidarity with your situation, but lets us take a step back and laugh at the absurdity of it all from the safety of a little distance. This in turn lets us laugh at ourselves, too—and hopefully cut ourselves a little slack next time.

    You could turn this stuff into a book, or a screenplay. Seriously. <3

    • Oh, you’re supposed to find these funny. I read this after posting it and laughed for a good ten minutes. In hindsight, these are hilarious in how ridiculous they are. I freaked out when they happened, of course, but they’re so damn funny in hindsight…

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