Minimum Wage Workers Reveal What They're Not Paid Enough To Worry About
Minimum wage is often paid by some of the most physically and emotionally intensive work—service industry jobs. Having to work in a hot kitchen all day or deal with irate customers while being paid less than you need to survive is not exactly the best situation to be in.
A lot of people just kind of mentally check out at some point, figuring they're not being paid to deal with anything that is outside their job description.
Reddit user u/Edymnion asked:
I worked at a hardware store in the garden center making close to minimum wage. We often loaded heavy bags of mulch and dirt for customers in their trucks beds and what not.
We were told that we were not allowed to take tips from customers.
So being the good boy that I was, I turned down a couple tips until one day I loaded up a full customer pickup bed and he handed me a $20.
I told him I can't take that, and he looked me dead the eye and said, "Do they really pay you so much you don't need it?"
I stopped being an idiot that day. Why the f*** I let someone pay me so little and tell me I'm not allowed to make more and I listened is just embarrassing now.
Used to work at a movie theater. No one cares if you bring your own snacks, although it's super aggravating if you leave your snack garbage in the theater instead of taking it out with you. We usually have an hour window where all the theaters are getting out.
We tend to have about 10 min per theater to clean on a busy day. Leaving your garbage in your seats makes everything slower. It's not hard to carry it down to the can.
Worked at an auto parts store. If you weren't a jerk, I'd warranty anything. We lose no money on it and it keeps the customer happy. Now, if you were a jerk, "Oooh yeah I can't do that, you're at 91 days and the warranty expires at 90 days"
Using the bathroom if you aren't actually a customer. We are the only place open at 3 in the morning. I'm not gonna tell people to go find somewhere else.
If the item doesn't have a price I let the customer just name it if they're nice. We're supposed to have someone check the price but that usually takes a long time as everyone's busy, I save that for jerks.
Me: "Do you remember how much this was?"
Customer: "I think it was $x.xx"
Me: "Sounds right." manual price entry
Customer: "No, I don't, sorry"
Me: "Well, today only it's on sale for 99 cents" manual price entry
Customer: "Of course not, that's not my responsibility this store is so horrible I don't know why I keep coming here you're all worthless I probably wouldn't be such a jerk if mommy and daddy had told me they'd loved me more I don't have time for this don't you know who I am"
Me: pages "Price Check"
I worked at an online diaper bag company, and if a bag was returned, I was supposed to find out if it was a defect or the customer's fault to decide how to issue a replacement.
When a frantic hormonal new mom would call me getting ready to rant and put her foot down, i would always interrupt their story and just ask for their address and what type of bag they wanted, and ship it for free.
No way am I being paid enough to get in that argument. I don't care if they were carrying large bricks in the bag. Take a new one!
To be clear: this was the same response, whether people called in upset or not. All I wanted was to get off the phone call and finish work. If you cared enough to call, then you convinced me. I was not interested in arguing with any moms, regardless of initial demeanor.
Years back I worked at a local chain restaurant that had a drive-through. One of the owners would occasionally come through and reiterate that we were to only give one ketchup packet out per order of fries at the drive-through. Our fry orders were huge, and one packet was nowhere near enough, so as soon as he was gone, we'd go back to throwing handfuls of ketchup packets into the bags.
At my pizza place we make large pies for slices. Cheese pies only get 14oz of shredded mozz on them but that's not enough cheese to get decent coverage. Screw that, I'm putting at least another three ounces of cheese on that pizza, ain't nobody getting a sh**ty slice of cheese pizza on my watch.
People sleeping in their cars overnight, I consistently work night shifts and see it all the time, we're meant to tap on the window and ask them to leave, but really if someone has to sleep in their car and we have a huge empty carpark, why kick someone while they're down
I worked at an airline. The minimum change fee was $75.00. At the time that amout of money would take me about ten hours to earn. Let me tell you how many ways I found to waive that fee: oh what a great conversation about weather let me waive that fee for you, oh, your child is crying in the background let me waive that for you. I found any reason to waive that.
People paying with expired coupons for anything that wasn't medication. I worked in retail pharmacy and we had to let customers make their front store purchases at the pharmacy if they wanted to. I just scanned all the expired coupons anyway because it wasn't worth the trouble of having an argument with the customer and increasing the amount of time they were on the line.
Obviously with those Rx coupons it was another story, as overriding that could be considered insurance fraud.
Not a worker, but I was being assisted by a minimum wage worker at a chain arcade. Me and my friend were figuring out what we could afford to get from the little "rewards" area, and we started to sit down and begin counting.
He saw us and said, "naw, don't worry, they don't pay me enough to care". We still felt bad so we put some of the candy we got back.
He started scanning our point cards and the rewards. We had 5-10 extra pieces of candy and he was like, "looks like you can't afford it". Then he slid all of the extra candy into a bag and handed it to us.
10/10 employee, I hope he's doing well.
Couple years ago i worked at a Deli inside a Walmart Neighborhood Market (aka just groceries) Every three hours we had to mark rotisserie chickens and other foods on the hot plates down 50% If people were kind or looked they could "use some help" i would mark the down almost anytime. I couldn't tell you how many folks came in who i would give a few extra slices of cheese or ham to for free and just their faces light up. They def. needed it more then Wal-Mart..
I used to work in an auto parts store in a town with a lot of gang activity. Every now and then some monstrously muscular dude covered in tats would walk in and grab two batteries off of the rack (we assumed for the hydraulics most were using) and walk out. We would just wave and say "have a nice day" rather than get the sh!t beat out of us. We'd just write it off as a store loss.
Not me but my boyfriend worked a store in a large mall. The store refuses to put security sensors in because it 'ruins' the laid back vibe of the store. They wanted you to chase after shoplifters. One girl working there almost got maced. A male co-worker was threatened to be stabbed. He just didn't care and wouldn't chase, he would just tell the manager on duty what happened. Some of the managers never listened.
The security in the mall is awful. So bad that a different store a friend was working at where their employees actually got attacked for trying to stop a shoplifter, that store hired their own private security to protect their employees. Nobody working minimum wage should get threatened to be fired for not chasing shoplifters, who are threatening them bodily harm.
I worked at a deli and had the power to override the price per pound anytime I felt like it. So if a customer was upset I'd give them half off. Or if they had a cool shirt. I didn't really care.
Worked at Chucky cheese for awhile when I first turned 16. Came in one week to the entire place smelling like poop. Boss told me some kid took his dirty diaper and wiped it all over the machines and asked me to do his a favor. Walked out and have never returned.
I used to work at a convenience store when I was in college. There was a guy that came and shoplifted beer like clock work every week or so. He came after 2am. Not sure if he did that because he could not afford it, or it was past 2am and he cannot buy alcohol i.e. state law. We were all college age kids. We were basically like "you don't pay me enough to chase this crazy drunk fool"
We cannot give out complementary hot water. However, many people ask for it with this really desperate look on there face. I let it slide sometimes.
About 22 years ago I worked in a K-Mart that had a diner and I was the dish washer. One day a waitress came up to me and asked me to clean a "mess" in the ladies room. In my ignorance I had just assumed someone had spilled the trash or something that innocuous. I opened the door and everything looked fine. I opened the first of two stalls, everything looked fine. Then I opened the second stall... Some lady had projectile sh!tted all over the back wall of the stall... It was a tremendous amount of liquefied poop.
So, after dry heaving a number of times I leave the ladies room. I inform the head waitress that there was no way in hell I was going to touch that mess. She complained and moaned about it but I wouldn't budge. She called the store manager down to the restaurant and he started yelling at me to clean up the mess in front of everyone. I flat out refused and told him to go take a look for himself.
I grabbed a dish bucket from the opposite end of the restaurant and on my way to the back I saw him come out from the restroom. On his way out he stopped by the hostess and told her to put up an out of order sign. They ended up hiring a professional cleaning service to take care of it. Apparently he didn't get paid enough to deal with it either.
I worked at a Domino's as a delivery driver/ shift manager while I was still in school and because corporate was a jerk, we did a lot of things to "stick it to the man" because they were mostly harmless. If a customer wanted their pizza made into the shape of a heart, screw it, I did it.
If a customer wanted me to attempt to make a calzone, I charged them for a medium pizza and did my best. The guys who asked for this were mostly chill stoner dudes who really couldn't care less if it came out messy anyway.
I stuck whole dough balls into the oven in an attempt to make bread bowls for customers before it was actually a thing on the menu and it usually turned out pretty well.
I still know how to make proper cinnamon rolls using only ingredients found from the walk in.
I used to put toppings on the wings for the really nice customers, so if you wanted chicken wings smothered with parmesan, garlic, and butter, you got it!
I've made plenty of stuffed crust pizzas for the customers who promised not to complain if it turned out not as expected.
No limit to the dipping sauces because they literally cost us nothing to buy, but they charged $0.25 per. I've never had anyone abuse my generosity and they only usually requested 1-2 extra.
If homeless people came in and asked for extra food (this happened quite often at my location) I would give them the screw up pizzas we usually had that no one was eating.
We weren't actually supposed to do this, no one was technically allowed to eat those pizzas. They actually expected me to throw away a perfectly good pizza because we forgot to put pepperoni on it. Fuck that. No one inventories the trash, so I gave that sh!t to the people who needed it.
Honestly, shoplifting. We aren't allowed to confront the customer. We are supposed to follow them around asking them if they need help finding anything in hopes they get nervous and leave. I don't do this, nor do I care to. I don't get paid any more for putting myself in a position where a customer could get aggressive.
When I worked in a restaurant on the line and a guy (who was messing around) cut his hand open and bled everywhere. I was told to clean it up. Promptly told my manager no because I didn't have proper PPE to deal with blood and I'm not willing to risk playing with someone else's blood (obviously wasn't paid enough either).
Manager ended up cleaning it up.
Used to work at a sports arena that hosted a lot of adult rec leagues. Whole place was supposed to be strictly alcohol free, but as long as you weren't swigging it in the main lobby or belligerently drunk, we didn't enforce it. A lot of guys would leave a sixer with a beer or two in it, or the bottom third of a fifth of Jack, so the other custodian and I would split a lot of free booze at the end of clean up.
Bonus story, one night a guy broke his leg right above the ankle. He was so blasted he couldn't feel it. He kept trying to get back on the ice and keep playing. So chill sixty something year old, but I cannot imagine trying to play hockey that drunk. Hockey players are a different breed.
Used to work at a place where you build stuffed animals (like bears cough cough). We have little hearts that people put in the bears, but sometimes people would just come in and ask to take a heart or two.
We weren't allowed to say yes, but I'd let them do it anyway because there's some sort of symbolism in giving people a little bit of love.
I worked at the mall when I was in college. I was a peon, but I had the power to issue $25 gift cards. Every time some customer got mad, I would just say "OMG I'm so sorry, here's $25". I wasn't paid enough to deal with anyone yelling at me.
I was working at Home depot and there was an older guy that was checking out and ended up just peeing all over the place. I was told he just stood there for about 30seconds as it dripped down him leg, completely embaressed.
He applogized and left. The head cashier called me and another guy over to clean it up, I laughed and said that biomedical waste isn't part of my job. Manager came down and told the head cashier that I was right, and it was actually her job to clean it up.
The look on her face was magical.
I work at a very laid back golf course. Not the nicest course, but it's fun and cost like 12 bucks a round. Golfers are very secretive about carry in beverages, but no one cares. Throw your trash away and we're ok with it.
We do a 10% student discount at the shop I work at. We have to be shown a valid student card before we give the discount. I could be shown anything vaguely plastic and rectangular and I'm giving that discount.
I work in a dollar store and customers are not supposed to bring carts outside to carry their goods, but honestly if someone is having a hard time carrying it in bags I couldn't care less if they use a cart or not.
I worked at a pizza restaurant where the protocol was to give out only one ranch with each meal. If a customer wanted more we were suppose to charge them a dollar. I love ranch and totally understand that people want more than one tiny container so I would always give them as much as they wanted.
Worked at Pizza Hut.
Store policy: something like 30-40% employee discount. Us: "hey boss I'm gonna take home 2 large stuffed crust, 16 wings and a 2 liter" Boss: "okay, whatever." Us: 100% discount.
Store policy: sauce cups are $.50. Customer: Oh, I forgot, can I have some marinara? Us: take it, please go away so I can keep playing Zelda.
Then we got a new stick in the mud boss. Everyone cool quit within a year.
Used to work at a CVS making minimum wage. ENORMOUS ~7yo boy and his mom walk in and peruse the candy then disappear into the aisles. On their way out the mom informs me that her son puked on the floor. She didnt stop walking or act apologetic or surprised in anyway.
My manager tells me to get a bucket and some gloves to clean it up. I flat out told him that I refuse to clean up puke for minimum wage. We argue for about 5 minutes. I dont get fired and he cleaned it up. I honestly expected to get fired and it is one of those small victories that I am far too proud of.
Before I was in my RN program I worked as a CNA in a dementia unit. We were told to skimp on the wet wipes for the residents (who were all fecally incontinent). I treated all my residents to a box of wet wipes per blow-out.
CNAs deal with so much with so little resources. Kudos to you for treating your residents as humans instead of numbers like the management expected.
"Listen, this next part is important. Your insurance actually doesn't cover you in case you were engaged in commercial activity, like say transporting goods. Were you transporting goods commercially just now or on a personal errand Sir?"
Only ever had one guy mess it up.
I worked retail and my boss told me that whenever customers of a particular ethnicity came into the store I needed to follow them around to make sure they weren't stealing. Sorry, $8 an hour isn't enough for me to become a racist jerk.
Worked in fast food as a Manager, often I would let people use coupons that had very obviously expired by six months or pay partly (maybe a dollar or two) with a foreign currency I had never seen before. Not a care in the world.
Also if people asked for extra sauce or more condiments of any type I would just give it to them, smile, and tell them to have a great day.
Oh, and you know how McD's has that card where after seven coffees you get one free? I used to take them half full because we threw them out anyways.
Sometimes I wonder if I was really just a bad manager, but everyone loved me right until the day I quit.
Have a 2nd job. I let everyone Use the bathroom. I don't care if they do. my dad has Crohn's disease so I know some people just have to go now and can't wait. I don't make enough to ever clean the bathroom so f it.
Ex-Kohl's employee here. If a customer was nice to me and/or seemed worried about how much their total was, I almost always give them a discount, or increase theirs if they had one. Oh, you only scratched off a 15%? Looks like a 30% to me!
Occasionally Loss Prevention got on us about it, but most of the time they didn't pay attention to the % off coupon we entered in, so I had fun. It was so worth it to see people leaving the register looking at their receipt and doing a double take, then grinning back at me like their day was just made. Most people didn't notice though, but I'd like to think it might have made a difference anyway.
Oh and worth mentioning that this habit eventually got one lady quite irritated with me. She wanted her $20 in Kohl's cash, but when I changed her discount to a higher one, she only got $10. She didn't quite understand that i helped her save an extra $10+ instead.
People are weird about their Kohl's cash.
Back in the day working at drugstores like CVS and Walgreens, I'd price override just about everything, no questions asked, when the customer questioned the scan price, sans cigs/booze. Takes way too much time to go and run back there and check and I never had a manager question it. I doubt people were trying to rip off the store anyways. They were either right or misread. Who cares.
Breaking up is hard to do.
And when you get the law involved, it's even worse. But sometimes people don't need the law's help to make things overcomplicated, they just have a grand ole time making that happen themselves.
People on the front lines of human cruelty include divorce lawyers. These are their stories.