For every workplace, there's a legendary "incident" that defines the wildest day in that company's history - and the food industry is chock-full of crazy happenings. Whether working the drive thru, the cash register, or the floor, every employee has a story to tell about the weirdest, funniest, most infuriating, and, above all, most memorable moment at work. Here's what they have to say.
All content has been edited for clarity.
He Tried, And Failed Dramatically
“Three years ago, I was working at a Papa Johns pizza in Ohio. The air conditioning broke down. The district manager was there and was being a total punk. He wouldn’t let anyone leave even though the oven was making the store about 120 degrees inside.
This went on for over an hour. I exchanged words with him and ended up calling him a punk. This was outside in front of the store. The double doors were propped open, and most of the employees were hanging around outside the store. I went back into the store and out the back door where my Yamaha Virago 750 motorcycle was parked. I propped open the back door and took off my uniform shirt. I started my bike and proceeded to ride it through the store.
The way the store was set up, there was a straight shot to the front doors except for the oven. I wish I could say that I champed it through the front doors, but my handlebar caught the oven and I crashed my bike in the entry way of the store. I had to pick up my crashed bike and do the walk of shame out the front doors in front of everybody.
They were all speechless. I calmly said, ‘I am sorry, but I am going to have to quit without notice.'”
“One time at a Chick Fil A, we had a daddy-daughter date night, where fathers and daughters came and had a nice meal.
Well one random dude was eating with his mom there until 2 very large gentlemen came and and pulled out weapons. Apparently the dude hadn’t paid his bail, and these 2 bounty hunters went after him. They began screaming and waving their automatics around and dragged him through the store (they came from the back door and out the front), scaring the ever-loving nuggets out of several dozen girls.”
Her Complaints Put Her In The Soup
“I was an assistant manager at a cafe in the downtown area of a large city. I worked at the end of the line as expediter during the very crazy lunch rushes. This was also the first place customers would come with complaints or questions.
Now 9 times out of 10, I keep cool like the Fonz when customers are being overly ridiculous with their complaints but this one day in particular had pushed me to the brink.
We have two kinds of soup. French Onion, which we have every day, and our soup of the day which (you guessed it) changes mostly daily. That’s it.
So a lady comes up with her cup of soup and complains that it’s too cold. Totally normal. I say sorry, get her another cup, chuck her bowl in the microwave (per her request) and bring it out.
She comes back and says that now it doesn’t taste right. So I ask if she wants to try the other soup. She declines. I ask if she wants to try something else. She declines. So I ask her what she would have me do. She wants me to make another batch of soup.
Ok, this is not your personal vat of freaking soup. We make a ton at once and it’s for EVERYONE. So I explain to her that simply making an entirely new batch is not an option.
And it begins. She comes back with the ‘how hard is it to make soup,’ and ‘how hard is your job, maybe you should have finished high school.’ BLAH BLAH BLAH, so I take her soup, frisbee it across the line where it smashes on a wall in the back of the kitchen that is near the trash cans.
She is silent, the whole restaurant is silent, and I walk to the back to take a 10. Never saw that dude again. Amazingly, I wasn’t even reprimanded, which in retrospect is kind of hard to believe.”
They Had The Grounds For Arrest
“I worked at a Starbucks on the border of Wannabe Rich-Boy Rancher Town (we’ll call it Rodeotown) and the foothills up into the surrounding national parks. Because of our proximity to the highway that goes through the middle of town, we got local cops that would chill out in our lot. They’d come in, chug quad lattes, shoot the breeze, and hang out until they got a call.
One time a car full of dudes comes through the drive thru and asks for four venti waters. We quit giving out waters without a purchase in the drive thru because we were right next to a location of a local gym chain. Drive thru guy, B, is super polite and tells them we can’t swing it, it’s new policy, but if they come inside, we can hook them up. They cuss at him, peel out of the driveway, and tear off. We shrug like ‘whatever,’ we were used to rich little snots racing their sports cars and SUVs their dads bought them up to our drive to buy Frappuccinos. Typical Friday night shenanigans where we’re at.
Meanwhile, our two regular cops come rolling in the front door, we get them their quad lattes, crack jokes with Kirk the dude cop, fight over who gets to make eyes at the girl cop, and they go to chill out.
DING! Another car in drive thru. It’s that same carload of brats who asked for water! They pull around, wait until B opens the window, inform him that McDonald’s gave them free extra large waters at the window… and the driver proceeds to try to toss one through the drive thru window at B. Sadly for him, B has great reflexes and he slammed the big fat CLOSE button. The cup hits the window and it splashes almost entirely BACK at the punk driving.
B dips back, and this exchange happens.
Kirk and the other cop: ‘WHAT JUST HAPPENED? ‘
B: ‘That dude just threw his cup at me.’
Cop 2: ‘That’s attempted assault.’
Kirk: ‘Attempted assault…’ (he says this in a way that sounds like he’s savoring the flavor of it, like he just ate a fantastic truffle)
Cue Looney Tunes sound effects as they both bust from their seats, through the front door, and to their cruisers.
The guy in drive thru goes roaring out, and no less than 20 seconds later he has two of Rodeotown PD’s finest, full lights and sirens, chasing behind him to just absolutely ruin his and his little friends’ nights.”
Cliff Left Them Hanging
“The fugitive incident was certainly the most exciting.
This happened more than a decade ago at a restaurant I worked at. There was a quiet guy, Cliff, who trained me when I started. He was always reading military novels in the corner when it was slow. He worked 12 out of a possible 14 shifts per week. One day I asked him what he does with his very little time off work, he told me he’s taking helicopter lessons. I thought nothing of it at the time.
Several months later, Cliff uncharacteristically doesn’t show up for work in the morning. Around the beginning of the dinner shift, I went back to the kitchen to check on a customer’s order. Oddly, none of the other servers were in the dining room. As I passed the break room, I noticed all the employees gathered around the TV. As I tuned into the news program on the screen everything stopped.
On live, nationally broadcasted news, our missing coworker, Cliff Burkhart, is the center of attention. He stole a helicopter, flew it to a prison, landed it in the courtyard where the prisoners go outside to play for recess. He picked up his friend/gay lover and flew away. He didn’t get very far before crashing the helicopter in a field. Cliff and the ex-convict escaped on foot leading police on a manhunt. When the anchor reported the police currently do not know the suspects whereabouts but are in pursuit of Cliff Burkhart and his partner, the break room erupted in a chant.
‘Go, Cliff! Go! … Go, Cliff! Go!’ It was fascinating to watch this absurd situation unfold before our eyes, except for one employee who burst out in tears and left the restaurant in the middle of her shift, never to return. It turns out she was dating Cliff and didn’t know he still had feelings for his formerly incarcerated lover.
All the chanting and commotion attracted the attention of the manager who came in to yell at us for neglecting our tables. Nobody was working. We told him to look at the TV. His mouth dropped to the floor. He watched in silence a few minutes, then shut it off demanding we get back to work. All 10 waiters returned to the dining room floor to their respective angry tables who have been neglected for the past 30 minutes.
The following day, Cliff was still on the run. We had a meeting at work first thing in the morning. The manager told us we are strictly forbidden to speak about it with any guests or the media. We had at least two well-known local news anchors come in for dinner that night. The manager spotted them and and waited on them himself to prevent a story leaking and involving the restaurant’s name.
Cliff and his partner in crime (and more) were eventually captured by authorities. They found them wading in a mosquito infested canal, probably in hopes that it would deter the police dogs from picking up on his scent. He was given a 20 year prison sentence and his partner got 30 years.”
Well That Escaladed Quickly
“I was in college and working a low-level burger drive thru job where I got yelled at regularly by the boss, but I needed the job and it was a small town so jobs were hard to come by.
Anyway, we were super busy and I was just taking order after order handing out bags non-stop. When a black Escalade with heavily-tinted windows and rap music blasting pulled up to my window, I was ready to help some wannabe gangster with his order.
The window rolls down and it’s a little 80+ year-old lady wearing an orange jumpsuit and matching visor (tilted to the side of course). She was super sweet and tipped me.
So I don’t know what that was all about but it stuck with me.”
“‘We Haven’t Cleaned That Thing In Years!'”
“When I was 17, I worked the egg grill at a big university cafeteria. The grease, oil, and residue from cooking thousands of eggs each weekend would fall into a channel and drain into a removable metal trap about as long as my leg.
Each night we’d remove the trap, dump it, and put it back again. Sometimes we’d rinse it too.
Anyway, as a new employee I was overly eager to please everyone. I cleaned the trap with scalding hot water, and tried to get it as clean as possible. That’s when I noticed the trap felt heavier than it ought to be. It was only partially filling up, because at least 2/3 of it was filled with some sort of ‘blockage’.
So I start banging the trap. Hard. I keep flushing the top 1/3 with hot water and slamming the trap against the inside of a big garbage pail. Nothing’s happening. I keep doing this, over and over, because little tiny pieces of congealed egg (and God knows what else) are breaking loose.
Finally I slam it once more REALLY HARD, this time against the floor. Whatever was blocking the trap broke free, and this horrendous sludge comes POURING out, all over the kitchen.
Words cannot possibly begin to describe it. The smell was like absolutely rancid. It radiated instantly and irreversibly outward, slamming everyone in the kitchen like a punch to the face.
I puked first. It wasn’t even a question. I don’t even think my mind fully realized what had happened, I was just puking all over the floor in front of me. I dropped the grease trap and turned to run, and three other employees were throwing up also.
People started running for the exits. That’s what I remember most. This was at SUNY Stony Brook, on Long Island, and the Kelly cafeteria had about 30+ people working back there at any given time. We all met outside in the parking lot, gasping for air, trying to figure out what to do. No one knew what just went down except for me, they only knew something horrible had happened.
When I told them I’d cleared the grease trap, they looked at me horrified. ‘Nobody cleans that thing, we just dump it!’ they cried. ‘We haven’t cleaned that thing in years!’
Needless to say I was in charge of the cleanup. It involved a boatload of bleach, several trips, and a steam hose. I found out a few more people threw up in the outer areas too – out by the serving lines. One girl threw up into the bowl of salad she was chopping.
Anyway, that’s my story. NOTHING will ever come close to that smell in my entire life, and for that I derive a little bit of comfort.”
He Was Lost Without His Sauce
“I used to work in a fast food burger place right off the highway. It was a nice day, it was sunny out. Not super busy that afternoon. The manager hands me a big wire brush and tells me to clean the stains off the sidewalk outside.
It got me out of the window for a while so I was happy. I’m scrubbing, using toilet cleaner on these grease stains when I hear a thud. I turn to look that direction and a little four door is coming down the grass hill from the highway.
Let me be clear, this was not a road they were driving on. It was straight up grass and trees and it was decently steep.
The car bottoms out and slides into the parking lot and pulls into a space by the doors, I’m just staring at it, and I look over at my coworker who was having a smoke break and she says, ‘Did you see that too?’
I nod and that’s when the driver jumps out of his car and runs inside the restaurant and yells, ‘I forgot my sauce!’ He comes back out thirty seconds later, jumps back in his car and drives off, sauce in hand.
All we could figure is he went through the drive through and was exiting onto the highway when he realized his sauce was missing, so he was right by the restaurant still, we were literally right by it, so he drove off the road into our parking lot.”
Not Your Average Morning Joe
“I worked at a popular Canadian coffee chain in my younger days. A guy comes through the drive thru at about 7am on a weekday, dressed in a suit, nice car obviously on his way to work.
He hands me a refillable mug and I notice there’s some liquid in it. No biggie, this happens occasionally, I figure I will just dump it out and give it a rinse! Right as I dump it into the sink the smell hits me, and at the same time the customer, who could see me through the window starts screaming his head off.
His travel mug was half full of Fireball, which he planned on topping off with coffee and I’ve just ruined his morning. So I start apologizing profusely all while he’s yelling at me and calling me an idiot, etc… and then it hits me.
The dude is in his CAR. He is DRIVING! And I’m the idiot? So I say to him, ‘I’m pretty sure I did you a favor, sir. You must have forgotten what was in your mug. I wouldn’t want you to have an accident. Did you want me to rinse this out before filling your coffee?’
He didn’t yell too much at me after that.”
“You’ve Got To See This”
“A few years back, I worked at Walmart as an Assistant Manager. I was working a 12p-10p shift and the overnight manager called off sick, so I stayed until 4am so somebody working mornings could come in early and we could have it covered.
Anyway, it was February in northern Illinois. The temp outside at 2am was about 6 degrees. At about 2:30, I get a call over the walkie talkie to come up to the Pharmacy and that ‘You’ve got to see this’. I went up to Pharmacy and see two younger guys. One was dressed in a lifeguard’s outfit complete with a thick coating of sunscreen on his nose. The other one was dressed in a complete Walrus costume.
I half-followed these guys through the store to make sure that they weren’t going to do something stupid like pull fire alarms, etc. and caught up with what everybody was doing stocking shelves.
I lost contact with them because they weren’t bothering anybody, and just went about my business. About a half hour later, I made my way up to the front registers and asked the cashier if she had seen the lifeguard and the walrus. She said that not only did she see them, but they made a purchase. The lifeguard found some sunscreen in the clearance aisle, and the walrus got a pack of salmon from the Seafood department. They paid with cash, and went on their way.”
There Were Many Missed Steaks That Day
“I work at a grocery store and I’ve worked in almost all of the departments. So one morning I come in and all of the meat in the meat department is gone. There are signs posted saying the coolers went down over night and that we had to dispose of all the meat. Mind you I’m not working in the meat department anymore so I brush it off and head to the back to go get started on my day.
Well my manager thought otherwise and had me go help them. I already knew this was gonna be one of those days but dang. Long story short, I help them restock the case which is a 100 ft wall of various kinds of meat. So for about 7 hours we are running like wild trying to fill it up just to barely put a dent in it. But that’s not the crazy part.
All of the meat that was already in the cases had to be pulled out last night by the over night crew so there are 25 carts in the back of the store piled to the top with meat that’s going bad. By the time I got there they had already filled up one dumpster and had called the city so they could drop off another one. But the worst part of all is that customers were starting to realize where all the old meat was and started to dive in the dumpsters to get it.
Now I’m no expert in food safety but I know that bacteria spreads quickly and these people were willing to risk their health just for a free steak or two. So we ended up pouring bleach over all of it to try to deter some of the trickery out back. We ended up losing about $20,000 worth of meat. And had to get an emergency truck the next day to try to fill up what we were missing.
Dark days indeed.”
All Of Them Almost Got Fired
“One time the fryer, which was right next to drive thru, caught on fire because no one was cleaning it correctly. While the fryer was on fire, one of my coworkers tried two different (red) fire extinguishers but neither was functional. Customers were standing there filming this on their phones. Then my manager, who was in charge of all of us, picked up a bucket of water and prepared to throw it on the grease fire.
I snatched the silver grease fire extinguisher off the wall and put the fire out before she could KILL US ALL.”
Steal Money, Live Worse
“I worked at Walmart several years ago and a co-workers ex-husband came in with a loaded weapon.
He owned a failing business and had committed insurance fraud 3 times. Well the Feds caught on the third time and his house/place of business burnt down in less than 10 years. The wife said she had no idea he was committing arson and filed for divorce. Ex-husband was angry at her for testifying against him and he asked her why she wouldn’t talk to him, she asked him to leave and then he told her he had a weapon.
For some reason she ran into the women’s restroom at the front of the store to hide. He followed her in there and had her on her back while he sat on top of her straddling her. He was crying and saying his life was over and so forth. Another person happened to be in the bathroom, but he let her go unharmed. They evacuated the entire store while the cops set up.
The cops finally said they were coming in just to talk and he shot at the cop and missed, the bullet went through the door. He said he knew then he was going away for the rest of his life for shooting at a cop. He said he was sorry and he loved her and then shot himself in the head. While still sitting on her. They had to move his body off of her to help her get up and out.
She wasn’t harmed but she’s still in therapy. We were pretty good friends at the time and it still scares me because I would have never thought her husband capable of that.”
At Least He Wasn’t A Wet Blanket
“I don’t work there, but I’m sure my incident at this restaurant went down in history.
I have ulcerative colitis. It’s an inflammatory bowel disease marked by flareups which cause severe cramping, diarrhea, and other unpleasant gut issues. I was eating lunch with friends at a Chinese buffet (hindsight proves that was a bad idea), when I felt the urge to use the men’s room.
Well, the men’s bathroom is at the front of the restaurant where the lunch crowd is forming up. The bathroom is smallish with only one stall, and two urinals. I take a seat and start my business.
Just then another guy comes in and begins using the urinal. I’m making a lot of noise, so he knows I’m in there. So he finishes, and goes to flush. The urinal falls off the wall, and crashes to the ground into pieces.
The crashing sound was loud enough that the folks out waiting to be seated easily heard it. The shock of the situation left me a bit disoriented, but I soon became aware that the water source for the broken urinal was arching from the wall right into my stall onto me! I’m frantically trying to finish up, and this water is drenching me. I was trapped.
The dude (bless his heart) was trying to redirect the stream while shouting for help. I’m like, ‘dude, it’s cool don’t worry.’ I’m drenched now – and still not able to move from the toilet. Well his shout was heard, and I hear the sound of the door opening and lots of people’s voices. Some were laughing at the sight of the broken urinal and the water spraying out of the wall. Others were wondering aloud how it could be fixed, etc.
Suddenly I very clearly hear a woman’s voice say, ‘Is there someone in the stall?’ Crickets… then, ‘Oh. My. God, someone is in the stall!’ followed by raucous laughter.
So, here I am sitting on the can with my pants and shoes soaking in about 1/2 inch of water. I’m saturated head to toe, wondering how I can exit this bathroom retaining any sense of dignity. I said, ‘whatever,’ finished up, and exited the bathroom into a CROWD of people stifling laughter as best they could.
I was SO embarrassed, and when I saw my lunch mates in the crowd looking at me I just took a sopping wet bow. The crowd started to clap and cheer me. I thought that was nice. Despite my best efforts to quell the gossip, this story is legendary at my workplace. It has since died down, but for a while people I didn’t even know would say, ‘surf’s up!’ when I walked by. By the way, I’ve never been back to that restaurant.”