After a couple of years at the Pinellas Park McDonald’s, I was transferred to the 34th Street unit in St. Pete, the busiest unit in town.
Back then our uniformwas dark trousers, a short sleeve white shirt with McDonald’s logos on the shoulders, and a paper hat.
On weekends you usually had to close the unit at least one night. One Saturday night I was chosen to be in charge of closing the unit.
Each person tended to the area they worked. French fry area, shake room and grill were each cleaned by the staff member that had worked in the area up until closing. Since I always did window sales, I had to make sure the cash registers were closed out and the deck swabbed with a mop and all surfaces up front cleaned.
The cleaning tools were kept in a shed out back. You got the key for the shed on a nail behind the manager’s chair. The key to get into the unit itself was separate, and you always had to remember to replace the shed key to its spot before you left so the opening shift could get what it needed.
Everyone had gone, everything was done, and I walked out the back door and the unit door closed behind me. I reached in my pocket and I still had the shed key. I forgot to put it on the nail in the manager’s area. What to do? I couldn’t leave the key in the shed lock and risk theft.
But then I thought maybe there is another way back into the unit.
These were the very old style walk up units with sliding glass windows.
Someone showed me one time if you just pushed the window in, it would open and you could climb in over the counter. As I stood there by the window, I noticed a police car drive by. I was surprised they paid such little attention.
Sure enough, it worked. I climbed in, put the window back, put the shed key on the nail and headed for the back door. As I neared the door, I heard a number of car doors slamming on the other side.
I opened the door to find six police squad cars, a bunch of policemen, plus two dogs thankfully on leashes. They had paid attention.
One of the officers said,”I’m sure glad you’re wearing a uniform, but we’re going to have to call your boss to make sure you work here.” I told them, “If you call my boss at 1 am, I guarantee you I won’t be working here.”
They called and when they asked if I worked there, he said, “Ted who?” and quickly reassured them that I worked there. As you might guess, for a long time after that whenever the manager saw me he would say, “Ted who?” I never forgot to replace the shed key again.