Welcome back to Restaurant Confessionals, where we talk to the unheard voices of the restaurant industry from both the front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) about what really goes on behind the scenes at your favorite establishments.
When I was 16, I started working for this really tough sushi chef, and after two years I was really fed up with it. But I needed a job for weed and stuff, so I started working at a Mexican fast food chain in Puerto Rico. It was quite the experience. Usually in kitchens in general, there are a lot of weird people, a lot of recluses, a lot of low-level criminals—because if they were high-level criminals they wouldn’t be in a kitchen, much less in a fast food place.
I would usually work the cash register, but on Fridays I worked the line. And Friday nights were busy so there would be a big queue. And sometimes, in the middle of a busy night, it would be only drive-thru orders and no one on the floor. So the guy on the floor working the register would just go into the bathroom with a customer. We all thought it was weird. It turned out he was selling Klonopin. How useless a criminal are you when you work at a fast food joint but you can't sell drugs out on the turf? It’s not even real drugs, it’s like your mom’s anxiety medication!
He was a white guy with a bleach-blonde mohawk and tribal imagery shaved into the sides of his head. He was really animated and really nice, but I digress. He had this frequent flyer customer, this guy who came in on Fridays, who was a rather large guy. Fucking massive. He would come in with his mother (who was in a wheelchair) and buy this dude’s Klonopin, and he’d always order his mom a quesadilla and three #1 combos, which are the three hardshell tacos, for himself. He would buy the drugs, and I guess take them right there, and then sit down with his mom and eat one order of tacos, eat the second order of tacos, and then he’d take his last order of tacos, in the bag, into the bathroom. And apparently Klonopin made his bowels move or something and he would sit on the toilet, all drugged out, and eat tacos while he took a dump.
In just over a year that I worked there, it happened just over six times. I would have to clean the dining room afterwards, and I’d go clean the bathroom and there were the wrappers of the #1 tacos and lettuce, like, on the rim of the toilet. This was a one-stop-shop for this guy: bonding with his mom, getting his drugs for the week, and eating tacos on the toilet. He was multitasking. His mom was a lovely woman; she would just sit there and stare into space. We would play a really popular Puerto Rican gossip show called La Comay, so he made sure to bring her during the times that she’d be distracted enough so he could get all fucked up on anxiety medications. It was bizarre.
There was a lot of weird shit that would happen there. Usually these fast food places don’t have night porters, but when I started working there, there was a crazy fucking night porter. He was a pretty well-known junkie. But everybody kind of looked the other way because he was so effective—I mean, this guy put his heart and soul into cleaning and heroin. That was it. Those were his two passions. He didn’t have a family, he was estranged from his mother...so he dedicated his life to doing heroin and cleaning this restaurant. And apparently one night he got mega high and died on the job. I came in with my manager the next day to work the morning shift, and he saw the body lying inside. And then the regional manager came in and was like, “Alright everybody! Let’s feed people some lunch!” Trying to boost morale. We all tried to go home, it was fucking scary. That job was traumatizing. I saw the lowest of the low.