Trending topics: Superbowl Sunday

Insight to the perspective of fast food workers during  one of the biggest sporting events of the year

MBR

Charlene Belew

Sports Editor

Super Bowl Sunday is the equivalent of Black Friday for the fast food industry.

Last year, when the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens went head to head, Pizza Hut, my current place of employment, felt the harsh reality of how much football means to our society.

The customers piled into the restaurant with angry-faces, anxious to get home to see the halftime show, or even worse, the game in its entirety.

With customers flooding into the store, the sound of the phone ringing nonstop and deliveries piling up, it was apparent that there was no way we could keep up. I watched customers grow impatient with the fact that our ovens were taking so long to bake about 400 pizzas, let alone about 1,300 wings.

As a shift leader, I could feel the entire crew starting to lose their cool. They worked frantically over 480-degree ovens for minimum wage – ridiculous and unfair, especially over a football game.

Customers started cursing and threatening riots in our lobby. It was then I realized that I never wanted to experience another Super Bowl at Pizza Hut while I was on the management team.

Since January, I have been freaking out about the amounts of stress that could come with the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos battling it out on the field.

Between laying out floor plans and trying to figure out how we could prepare enough product for the big day, our workers spent enormous amounts of effort to get us prepared, and even then, being prepared seemed like a joke.

It didn’t help when I woke up on Feb. 2 to see that Lawton had turned into a winter wonderland.

Considering that our store closed almost four hours early due to the inclement weather, we still managed to make about $5,000, and in retrospect, it went very smoothly — almost so smoothly that it was unnerving.

In previous years, we’ve had customers ordering at least a week in advance for Super Bowl. This year, we were slightly concerned that almost 95 percent of the orders were placed the day of the game. With roads being slick, a rough day was unavoidable.

Although it seems like the worst was expected Super Bowl Sunday ultimately turned out to be in our favor.

After experiencing Super Bowl XLVIII, my perception — on the busiest day of the year for the food industry — has changed tremendously.

Maybe last year was just a bad year for us, or for everybody. After this year though, and a rather long 13 hour shift, I decided that sometimes being busy and working through difficult times isn’t such a bad thing.

I guess what it really comes down to is this: people who are working in situations like this have to be in the right mindset. They have to be prepared, dedicated and know how to keep a cool head, even in the toughest of times.

However, for anyone who has never experienced the struggles of working in the food industry, whether it is as a cook, a manager, a waiter or even a delivery driver, there should always be some sympathy and empathy shown, to everyone, customers and employees alike.

It’s important to realize that our employees have to show professionalism. Sometimes it’s easier to do that when customers are more understanding. In all honesty, if it hadn’t been for both of these things on Feb. 2, I’m not so sure if the day would have gone as smoothly. In fact, I’m almost certain that it would have turned into a chaotic conundrum.

At Pizza Hut, we try our best to provide hungry people with awesome food. I know that our crew isn’t perfect, but we made it through the biggest day of the year for us. Our building is still intact, our crew is still intact and customers seemed more patient and happier this year. That’s all that I could’ve asked for.

Maybe it just takes a snow day to have people, both in the store and in the home, realize that football is great, but patience is greater.

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