Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Salute You, Burrito Guy!

This morning poor TB unloaded on me with some industry idiocy he's been dealing with - people who can't get their shit together, can't get simple tasks done, can't take direction, can't check their egos at the door, and have no concept of urgency, of getting work done when it needs to get done, or of helping others.

About an hour later I got a similar rant from a friend I talked to over IM - she's working as an intern at a biochem company over the summer and already has some awful stories about the people who are supposed to be her mentors and superiors basically behaving like petulant children.

Then I went to lunch with a few people, out to a fast-food burrito joint. There was one guy in charge of making the bulk of the burritos. You know how these places work - you fire out an order as rapidly as possible, bits of chicken and tomato cubes fly through the air, and a burrito lands in your hands about 2.3 seconds later. Well, this guy didn't disappoint. I placed my order, had it repeated back to me perfectly, and then got to watch him work. The dude absolutely FLEW. As he fielded about 15 orders from grouchy hungry people he was also refilling bins of ingredients as he ran out, restocking the drink fridge, and helping out a guy who was experiencing some sort of chicken-grilling crisis.

I would hire this guy to do ANYthing. He was a machine. He was better than a machine. Let's see what he did that the average MBA dolt can't seem to manage:

  • he completed the task assigned to him. I wanted a burrito. He gave me a burrito. And it was a good burrito.
  • he could hustle. Fast turn-over is an advertised product of a fast-food place. I got my burrito quickly, and so did all of the other people in line.
  • he could identify what needed to be done, and then he'd DO it! While he was working he emptied his bin of rice. There was no "someone get me more rice". No staring at the empty rice bin and wondering who to ask about it. No, "well, the rice bin is empty, so clearly there's nothing more I can do today." He looked around, realized he was the person who should get more rice, and got more rice. Problem solved.
  • he could take instruction. When asked to help the guy at the grill, he did.
  • he could give instructions. He didn't just drop what he was doing to help Grill Guy - he called over a girl (who was looking rather listless over by the lettuce) to please help him out so his job wouldn't go neglected. And he wasn't an ass about it - it was "could you help me for a sec?", not "hey lazy come do what I tell you!"
  • he was a considerate and professional human being. He moved quickly when necessary, he spoke clearly, he listened, and he did it all without a hint of attitude. No "mumblemumblewhat'dyousay?" No morose slouching. No eye-rolling or bad attitude. He wasn't a forcedly-perky "Have a scrumdiddlyumptious day!" type of employee (you know the type - they're threatened on pain of death by their managers to wear 37 pieces of flair and smile dammit smile at every customer who rolls through) - he was just awake and paying attention to what he was doing.

Now I'm sure this dude has his bad days, where he grumbles at customers and rolls his eyes when he runs out of rice. But bad days are one thing - adopting shitty work habits as a way of life is quite another. This guy gets it. He's capable, he understands what "work" means, and he knows how to behave in a professional setting (and when the fast-food burrito shop is treated as a more professional setting than an industrial biochemistry lab, there are problems with the world). Please, everyone - hire Burrito Guy.

Seriously - can we require all MBA candidates to take a semester of "Burger King Drive-Thru 101" before they're allowed to receive their degrees or start working? In addition to puncturing inflated egos and giving some of the more spoiled ones their first-ever taste of a summer job, it seems like they'd learn some of the vital skills that help someone succeed in business. Or at least make them more tolerable colleagues.


Anonymous said...
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