Best Job in the World: Gates of Hell (Macca's Overnight)

We’d paper, scissors, rock to clean the vomit and blood.
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU
Maccas by night

 / Contributor via Getty

Ah… McDonald’s.

Australia’s first Macca’s opened its doors in 1971. According to Macca’s, in the 50 years since, it has employed about 5 percent of the population – roughly 1.3 million Australians, over 1 million of them under the age of 25.


The golden arches’ revolving doors welcome many people into their first employment experience and it is famously cut-throat. Well-renowned for having one of the most formidable training programs in the country, McDonald’s will equip you with the skills to manage any type of god-awful job. But Macca’s is more than a job. It’s an experience.

From being little more than an appendage to a robot, to having your life revolve around hustling 30-second windows for 8-ish hours a day, to de-escalating plastered and violent brouhaha – Macca’s will equip you with the skills you need for Life. 

The overnight shifts are where things start to get weird.

Welcome back to Best Job in the World, where we examine the best of the worst of work.

Casey: Gates of Hell (Maccas Overnight)

I was freshly 18-years-old on a gap year between high school and uni, and I’d come up with a grand plan to hustle, hustle, hustle and then, with my thousands of dollars, frolic the continent of Europe on a generic “find yourself” gap year. I put applications into every fast food restaurant possible, every cafe, every cinema, every retail shop in the surrounding area. Finally, Mcdonald’s hired me. 

There was always this idea (that I think is a lie now) that once you got a job at Macca’s you could get a job anywhere. Apparently it looked reallll good on a resume. So I was like hell yeah, this’ll be sick. And the pay seemed good: $18 an hour.


Because I was 18 I was put on overnights (usually 8pm to 5am or 10pm to 6am), ‘cause all the school kids did the day shifts. Little did I know I had entered the gates of Hell.

The first red flag was when I worked my first Friday night (I worked Wednesday to Sunday every week). There was one club in a 50km radius and every weekend hundreds of people would stream across the road and into our tiny Macca’s, whether that be on foot or in cars.

That first shift, an inebriated girl threw her chips at me through the drive-thru window, while screaming at me to work faster.

Then I was slapped on the ass by a fucked up guy that could barely stand. 

Things like that didn’t really phase me at the time, and it was only happening on Fridays, so I was like “whatever”.

But every Friday, it seemed to get gradually worse. The first time the police were called was probably my second or third week. There was a testosterone-fuelled fight, which, if I remember correctly, ended up in a broken nose and an arrest. I had to get down on my hands and knees to clean up the blood after everyone had left. 

Again, to me, that wasn’t that bad, so I just kept rolling with it.

By the end of my second month or so I was so desensitised to the abuse we received on Friday nights that I look back and think: fuck, how did you not have a nervous breakdown lol?

My manager did though. 

Sometimes I’d hear her screaming – SCREAMING – in the fridge where we kept the milk and icecream. She’d come out with red eyes and her hair flailing out of her usually slick bun. She later got fired. She definitely verbally abused us, too. 


After she left, the Fridays continued. Constant catcalling, constant touching on by random dudes, fights every weekend, police every weekend, piles and piles of vomit every goddamn weekend. I remember pushing a guy off me once because he was being so persistent and he stumbled drunkenly back into a bush. I didn’t care. 

After everyone left it would take us hours to clean the outdoor area, and we’d paper, scissors, rock to clean the vomit and blood. 

But Fridays weren’t even the worst part. 

Apart from never seeing the day, putting on a heap of weight from eating free Macca’s every break time, and having to put up with my co-workers budding – painfully embarrassing – workplace romance, the Macca’s was in an area where drug abuse were super high – it was pretty usual to find needles scattered in the bushes.

One night in particular sticks in my memory. I think it was a Tuesday or a Wednesday and two people – a woman and a man – were sitting outside on the tables, screaming about something stupid. It was getting a bit violent and they were starting to push each other up against the restaurant windows, so we followed procedure and went into lockdown – which happened at least once a week. 

When we wouldn’t let them in, one of them took a shit outside the front door and smeared it on all the windows. Then, on all these leftover burgers that were sitting on the outside tables. 

We had to clean the windows every night as part of the handover list, so we paper, scissors, rocked, to see who would scoop up the feral faeces. I’m just glad it wasn’t me. I really dodged a fucking bullet.

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