Life—that’s really what it’s become. Working over 40 hours a week, being so involved in the Pizza Hut “politics” (everything going on between different managers as they try to work separately toward opposite goals), and trying to keep the place on its feet, I feel like it’s my life now. There’s always something new happening. I’m always trying to catch up and sort things out. People like to joke that I probably stay the night, since I’m always at the store (and I even had a 23-day work streak at one point).
It’s been two months since I got the job. Since then, so much has changed.
I came in as an awkward, reserved girl who was scared to interact with customers. I was quiet, and I tried to stay out of the way. Doing my job was my only goal. Work and leave. Follow the schedule. Be an amiable coworker. Make customers happy, and trust the managers to take care of the rest.
But now? I’m the opposite. I interact easily with customers, enjoy talking with my coworkers, speak my mind and ask more questions than anyone else, and gained an ownership mentality that causes me to feel responsible for making sure everything operates smoothly.
I’m not a manager; I never wanted to be one. However, it seems I can’t stick to just being in the back seat and going along for the ride. Some people are happy working half-heartedly for a job they only kind of like—being out of the loop and just doing what they’re told—but that’s not me. Whatever I do, I give it my all. Every bit of energy and thought I have will go into my job, and I’ll treat the place like I own it. As I told one manager, I like to work hard for what I deserve. I don’t do well in places where I’m expected to work like a robot and not care about anything. I want to see my effort and hard work produce something bigger than myself.
I made friends quickly. Coworkers like me because I do my job and am an amiable person. Managers like me because they can depend on me, I do more than what’s asked of me, and I value efficiency and quality. I’ve gotten a lot of comments from coworkers, saying I’m the “only X they like” there (female, coworker, etc.). It’s funny how many times I’ve been told I “work too hard.”
People tease me a bunch at work. One driver likes to knock my hat over my eyes whenever I pass him. Another coworker likes to purposely say “folded” dough instead of “stretched,” because he knows I like to use the correct terms. He also gives me nicknames (“little girl” being among them, but I made it clear nicknames related to my size aren’t appreciated). One girl pokes me in the side when I’m not paying attention. A manager likes to pretend something big happened (i.e. a giant order that would take tons of time and preparing for), only to reveal he was joking. Spoiler alert: I fall for it every time. *shakes head in shame* I think I’m the only person who gets teased this much. I’m not complaining, though. It shows people like me and that they feel comfortable being themselves around me. Besides, I return the favor every chance I get. 😉
As for new coworkers, they quickly learn that they can ask me all of their questions. I’ll show them how to do anything (I love training new cooks), and if I don’t know how to do it myself, I’ll get a manager to teach the both of us. I’m honest—sometimes brutally so—and coworkers know they can trust what I say.
Then there are the customers. I love the kids. I love the regulars. I’ve gotten tons of comments on my work ethic and positive attitude, and I love being able to bring smiles to people’s faces. The repeat customers with kids always make my day. Sometimes the kids wave to me; sometimes they enthusiastically tell me goodbye. Some kids come in after school to eat in the lobby—even though we aren’t a dine-in location, but I give them plates and napkins anyway.
Best/Worst Customer Experiences
Best customer experience: A lady with two kids came in to pick up her pizza. I was too busy running around between phones, make table, and cut table to notice much about them, but when I handed the woman her order, her two kids stopped to tell my that I was “very beautiful.” The comment surprised me. (I don’t think I look good in my uniform. I know my hair was a mess, and I probably had food on my clothes.) All three of those customers were really nice, and it’s an experience I won’t forget. 😊 I love kids.
Worst customer experience: A guy (mid twenties to early thirties) greeted me with a comment about my appearance and smile. At first, I thought it was just a nice observation, but then he proceeded to talk about how he kept “making me smile.” It was said in a creepy way. He was acting like he had control over me, and he had the audacity to keep reminding me of it through his comments.
Anyway, I took his order with a smile, laughed at his jokes (even though it was just because I was uncomfortable), and told him his total. He asked if my number came with his pizza, and I responded in a confused/disapproving voice that no, why would it? I think I hurt his ego. After my rejection, he told me that “girls my age” always ask for his number, and that he’s “old enough to be my dad” anyway. He then kept talking about how he has friends who have kids my age, so it would be weird to date me. I got away as quickly as possible, handing off the situation to a manager so I could go make the order.
The manager and guy chatted for a while. I stayed near the back, trying to avoid being drawn into a conversation again. When the manager finally escaped the conversation he was in (yes, even he got weird vibes), I met him in the back and asked if the guy was gone. Thankfully, another coworker took care of handing the guy his order. By the time I made it back up front, he’d left. I felt so relieved.
What about my goals for this job? If you recall my first blog post about Pizza Hut, you’ll remember that I didn’t care about the pay. I was here for the experience. I wanted the chance to work on my social anxiety, and I didn’t care if I thought I’d hate the job.
I’m definitely here for the money. Let’s just say that right off the bat. I’m trying to save up to live independently (potentially) in a year’s time. I also have bills to pay. So yes, hourly wages matter…probably more than anything else at this point.
As for the “experience” part, I think I’ve got that down. My social anxiety is pretty much gone. I’m still awkward in certain situations, but at least I’m comfortable dealing with strangers, and I’m getting better at accepting “mistakes” as part of the process (speaking from a perfectionist’s point of view). Building relationships at work doesn’t have to be difficult or serious. Asking questions doesn’t have to be scary. People are people, and most of the time, it’s better to just put yourself out there and trust the Lord with the outcome.
Besides getting over my social anxiety, I know a lot about how the fast food industry works. How to keep a business running, what kind of people work best in certain roles, scheduling and communication—some of these won’t be useful in day-to-day life, but others are just good practical skills to have. It isn’t the kind of experience I was looking for, but it transfers over to similar jobs, and it could be useful in the future.
On the other hand, a lot…hasn’t changed. Management is still a mess, there’s zero communication, and hours aren’t reliable (although I do have to give credit to one of the main managers for giving me all the hours and overtime he can). Fishy stuff goes on with payment. Managers fight. Those who have good ideas and want to give their all for the place aren’t given the opportunity to do so, and workers with the drive to make the place better are pushed down. Things seem to change on a whim. Stability isn’t something I feel at Pizza Hut. Still, I was willing to put up with most of it; things were changing…right?
Things Are Changing
People were fired. People were hired. I got to train a new cook for the first time, and it was a blast. Procedures changed around the restaurant. Management became more strict with what they tolerated and what they didn’t. Things were starting to look better.
The general manager disappeared. (Yes, it’s a good thing, in my opinion.) I still don’t know too much about what happened, but let’s just say that I never really liked him, and I’m relieved to be working with people I actually enjoy being around instead. And since the manager is gone, I was able to get a bunch of overtime. (If you know me, you know I love my overtime.) Another manager was brought in from another store to help out. He’s a responsible and thorough, and having him manage makes my shifts a lot less stressful.
Positive attitudes increased. People helped out instead of standing around on their phones or eating. Being in an environment where hard work was modeled and nurtured resulted in more getting done, and I could do my job without having to worry (as much) that things would go haywire if I stepped away for one second.
…Or Are They?
Hope was in the air. Things were starting to look up. I started to believe Pizza Hut could be a long-term thing, and I was really enjoying spending time with my fellow coworkers.
But…all good things have to come to an end, don’t they? Hope couldn’t last forever. Mine was shattered to pieces bit by bit. At first, it was small things: the white sauce was frozen. Someone left the oven on overnight. Prep got forgotten. We didn’t have enough people one day, so I had to stay late to get things done.
I tried to make it work. I tried to avoid feeling down about it and did my best to make sure things would stay in order. All the frosting and white sauce was frozen? I made sure to do a freezer pull before rush began. Closing manager with a history of forgetfulness? I reminded him what needed to get done before I Ieft.
Then it got more frequent. Tips were always missing. Sauce and frosting was always frozen. People weren’t scheduled well, and we’d be swamped one day and have wrong pizzas spitting out of the oven because training is a huge mess. Managers would step to the side to have “important talks” mid-rush, leaving me (a non manager) to run everything up front by myself.
I tried to prepare for these things by coming in earlier (before rush instead of mid-rush), but I was told I couldn’t clock in early, because we were trying to “save on labor.” I asked to go in when I knew we didn’t have enough people, but again, “save on labor.” “We’ll be fine,” they said. “X will take care of it.” (Spoiler alert: they weren’t. X completely forgot about it.)
I confronted the higher-ups about it. I’m not a manager; why was I doing so much manager stuff, while the real ones forgot their responsibilities? I was promised change. I was asked for “more time” and a “second chance.” So I gave it to them.
The Last Straw
Then, the tip pool system changed. All of a sudden, I was earning half of what I’d been getting before. People who came in for only a couple of hours could get the same as me, despite the fact that I’d been working 11-hour days. While a part-time worker earned $15/hour, here I was getting $11.50 or so.
I tried to bring it up with management. I tried to show how the new system was unfair. I was shot down and talked over, and even though many people took my side, the ones who agree with me don’t have to power to change things. $11/hour is what it’s going to be. There’s no reasoning with the change. I can’t depend on tips anymore to make up for the rate being lower than all the other options in my area, so I’m finding another job. We’ll get into that in another blog post, though. For now, let’s talk about my experiences and growth within Pizza Hut.
Things I Learned
Pizza Hut taught me a lot. Being my first job, I learned the basics of scheduling, clocking in, and just how to work a job. Social anxiety? Pizza Hut helped me to get over that (although I’m still naturally awkward in a lot of circumstances). There have been a lot of situations I had to work my way through alone, and because of those, I’m more confident interacting with the world.
One big thing I learned: how not to run a store. There’s so much Pizza Hut could be doing better. It’s like they shoot themselves in the foot, trying to follow all the profit percentages and labor hours from corporate, when in reality, all it does is cause things to mess up, and more money is spent on fixing those problems. I’ve tried talking about it with management. Other managers have tried to follow more efficient ways of doing things. But Pizza Hut doesn’t want change. They want robotic employees who do what they want without question. “We’re already doing things the right way,” they say when you try to change anything. But their “way” doesn’t work. It’s like they turn a blind eye to the reality of what’s actually going on inside the stores.
Besides the disconnect between corporate and the actual individual stores, there’s the manner of communication. Managers just…don’t. If there’s a new change implemented by the top, it doesn’t make it far. Three managers could be splitting the tip pool in three different ways. Neither would know anything had changed. There’s just no communication. And because of it, it makes everything so much more complicated and stressful than it needs to be.
And besides that, there’s the matter of how they treat their employees. I know all Pizza Huts aren’t the same, but the highest person at mine likes control. She doesn’t want to give an ounce of it to anyone under her. Even though it would be more beneficial to have someone inside the store making the schedules and deciding who to hire, she doesn’t care. Employees with the determination and ability to bring the place up from the dirt are pushed down because it also means they’re more “smart” (don’t just go along with everything; actually thinks through stuff before implementing it; needs more control to get things running smoothly). If you have a brain and like to use it (and if you have the boldness to speak it), you aren’t very much liked. They want puppets, not people.
So yeah, I know a lot now about what makes a business run and what doesn’t. I don’t know if this experience will ever help me in the future, but it’s something good to have.
And finally, my mindset. Before Pizza Hut, I had a difficult time getting out of my comfort zone. I overthought too much and shied away from doing anything unfamiliar. Go out into public? *scoffs* I’ll sit at home instead. I’m still learning, but I’m getting better at just jumping out into the unknown and (trying to) embrace the challenges and hiccups that come with everything.
I’m very thankful for my job at Pizza Hut. It taught me a lot, I met some really great people, and I learned a lot about myself and how I work in different environments. Maybe it wasn’t the most professional place or the most pleasant experience toward the end (no, I haven’t quit; I’m just working there less), but the Lord used it for my good. There’s just so much I learned.