Fast Food Restaurants. There was a time, many galaxies away, when the majority and typical employee in ALL of the “Fast Food” restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and a dozen others, was white teenagers over 17, and little old ladies over 65. They ALL spoke English.
Now in the galaxy we are in, if your galaxy happens to be Las Vegas, 99% of the staff are, let’s face it, mostly Mexican, with some Central American thrown in there. 100% of them DO NOT speak English. Why am I writing about this?
In this essay I am talking about the cultural/societal changes over the past twenty years or so. This analysis only applies to areas that have a large percentage of Spanish-speaking people, as opposed to the opposite. Like comparing Las Vegas today versus Ham Lake; Minnesota.
Fast Food restaurants? This isn’t about just your average Burger King in Las Vegas or East LA. This societal metamorphosis applies to Donut Shops, and any other service type work/job where if you’re a Mexican or from Nicaragua; chances are that you cannot speak a lick of English. If you could, you wouldn’t be working in a Fast-Food joint. You won’t find ANY white people picking Strawberries in Oxnard either.
If you are a white dude in the ages between 18 and 21, you MIGHT still work in a burger joint to help with college expenses, but the stores you prefer to work at are in the predominately white neighborhoods. If you’re a younger white person you might even take public transit to the nicer parts of the city if you’re a average middle-class dude or dudette. In other words, at least there would be more than one employee that speaks English.
Now let’s put’r in Warp Drive and cruise on back to the Ham Lake Galaxy, which is 1963. Take the same/similar areas, and you will see that the majority of the populations are English speaking. Even in Las Vegas. In that galaxy, housekeeping staff at all the hotels were whites and blacks. Now it’s mostly Hispanics.
Over the three stages of transformation/evolution, the shift went from the all-white staffing to more and more staffing of women of color, then eventually shifting to a vast majority of Hispanics. Even in cities like Minneapolis you’ll find a high percentage of “Foreigners” from somewhere working at the burger joints.
I’m not talking about prejudiced hiring practices. Just the change in who’s willing to work in a burger joint now, compared to the past, and the shrinking of the middle-income class, and the growth of the lower income class. Over the past twenty years, the Federal Minimum Wage has gone from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour. Not a big difference over twenty years.
Compare the changes in the demographics since 1963 and today. Compare the three different galaxies or stages. Myself? I’m 74-years-young and I can tell you all about what it was like growing up in the 1950’s, and the societal changes that I have seen in every area of our lives, both pre-integration and post.
So, that’s the warm-up to the meat of this story. On Planet Las Vegas in Galaxy 2022; if you are retired, on disability benefits, and you aren’t necessarily looking for a job, and you happen to feel inclined to work part-time because a local (famous) upscale Fast-Food restaurant that is being built near you is paying $15 per hour, you jump on it, and get hired. Oh, and you’re a white dude. Note: The Hispanic management doesn’t make that much, so I wonder what they pay a Hispanic dude versus yourself.
Now, there is an extensive training period, from learning how to program the French-Fry Machine, to how to properly sweep the floor. Because the store near you where your job will be is still under construction, the training takes place in Las Vegas. The corporation that owns yours, (which is in a predominately white area), owns 300 more stores spread over Nevada, Southeastern California, and the northern part of Arizona.
Since your yet to be opened store is 45 minutes from Las Vegas, it makes sense that your training would be accomplished in the Las Vegas/Henderson/ Boulder City area. It’s great! Until your first shift for training at a store in Las Vegas.
I’m guessing that a shift is comprised of about ten employees. You, the happy retired white dude from Minnesota who only speaks English, and the other nine on your shift who only speak Spanish and not a lick of English. Maybe that’s why they had to invent the numbering system on the menu. The person who DOES speak and understand English is the Hispanic woman who is glued to her headset her entire shift except for a pee break, and she certainly doesn’t know how to set the automatic timer on the French Fry Machine, The Hispanic shift manager is amongst the nine others who “No entiendo ingles”.
Imagine the nightmare if you will, and we all know it’s not rocket science flipping burgers; but if it were I…..I certainly would want to receive my instructions in English whilst training. When I was told this actual story, I admit it was hilarious to me. Like it could be a SNL skit with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.
Visualize it yourself in your mind, if you’re creative like myself, your Shift Manager trying to explain how to clean the toilets, in Spanish, or setting the automatic timers for the French Fry Machines. To most of the jabbering, all you can do is nod your head up and down and pray that it’s something Juan is saying which requires a shake-head-back-and-forth motion, signifying that you understand. Like learning how to sweep the floor, “empuje el cepillo hacia adelante, levántelo y tire hacia atrás, luego empuje el cepillo hacia adelante nuevamente. Repita el proceso”.
Like, in Spanish, Juan is saying, “You’re not the type that love to give employees and customers blow-jobs are you?” to which your response…..had you known Spanish, would’ve been something like, “No Senor, yo amor mujer”. Instead, you nod your head up and down in agreement.
Postscript: I once served the greatest poet/songwriter of all time, (the only song writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for his category)……Two Cheeseburgers, Fries, and a Coooooke! I was working at Robby’s hamburger joint in Dinkytown, which was on the University of Minnesota Campus in Minneapolis. I had no idea who or what he was at the time, until I heard him later at the local “Coffeehouse”, which in those days, was a venue for up and coming Folk Music Artists. Guess who he was.
Peace & Abide, La paz y la morada, السلام والالتزام , שלום ושמירה, Paix et Demeure, Խաղաղությունը եւ մնալը, Мир и пребывание,, 平和と遵守, 和平與恪守, Aştî û Abad, صلح و عبید, Fred och Abide, Kapayapaan at Patuloy, Frieden und Bleiben, Mir i Ostanite, शांति और निवास, Hòa bình và ở lại, Мир и Абиде, שלום און בלייַבן, สันติภาพและการปฏิบัติ, Mir in bivanje,
Yadhum oore yaavarum kelir, “The World Is One Family”
Dr. T. C. Saxe, DD, RSISHE
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