Capitalism's Latest Triumph

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Memo to fast food chains: JUST STOP.

In a crossover that rivals the upcoming Flash/Arrow teamup, You Are Dumb and OLDNERD are crossing the streams. Yesterday, on the site where I like things, I talked about going to Taco Bell and eating something I liked.

But, as I alluded to there, I also saw something I could not abide. Taco Bell employees forced to wear large taco hats. Hats that make them look like they've got a giant, taco-shaped mohawk. My cashier had one. But that wasn't all. Other people behind the counter had them. People cleaning up the main seating area had them. People emptying the trash were wearing them.

This is just the latest in a series of moves by chain establishments to leverage the dignity of their employees in order to distinguish themselves from the competition. McDonalds had the "pay with love" campaign which had their employees engaging in truth-or-dare-level shenanigans with customers. Starbucks may have come from a nobler place with their Race Together campaign, but it still forced their staff to participate in activities beyond asking us what food we wanted, taking our money, and telling people to make the food we wanted.

Just stop. It's bad enough that you're taking these grown adults stuck doing work once meant as part-time gigs for high school students and paying them less than a living wage, giving them little to no benefits, forcing them to work unpaid overtime, and treating them like interchangeable, disposable flesh-cogs in your profit machines. Why can't you leave it there?

Knowing that the person taking my order has to wear an awful, ludicrous foam taco on their head and pretend to like it lest they be fired DOES NOT ENHANCE MY EXPERIENCE. It just makes me uncomfortable. It pushes the guilt I feel for eating there in the first place to levels that make me even less inclined to go there.

I don't know what level these hats live at - if it's a national thing, a franchise thing, or just one misguided Taco Bell owner with a horrible, horrible idea. The hats are clearly a product of the national chain, though. I can't imagine there'd be a huge market for them beyond minimum-wage employees forced to wear them.

Fast food employees should be allowed, by law, to be as dismissive and surly towards the public as they want while still doing the job. If you can take the order correctly, take the money correctly, and put the right food on the tray, I don't need a coerced lie of a smile and a "have a nice day" we both know you don't and shouldn't mean.

But if we can't have that, on account of me not being in charge of everything, we should at least be able to live in a world where people already earning 80% of a living in one of the least pleasant professions in our society aren't asked to also perform stunts, have conversations, or dress like goddamned food mascots for our amusement. That's just obscene.

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