Sometimes the job becomes so unbearable that people feel totally compelled to just walk out in the middle of the workday. This is somewhat common in the food industry, as the people often have to work long, unconventional hours under high amounts of stress. Whether it's a pregnant barmaid whose bosses show her zero respect, or a butcher who's forced to work in unsanitary conditions, it's no surprise at all that these people wanted to get the heck out of there. Here are some of Reddit food industry workers' best tales about the insane, appalling reasons that they walked out in the middle of work. Content edited for clarity.
The New Owner Singlehandedly Ruined The Coffee Shop
“I used to work as a coffee barista at a small neighborhood shop, the kind where they have regulars’ drinks ready before they even get to the counter. At one point the owners wanted to move, so they sold the shop to a completely clueless idiot that used his wife’s retirement money to fund his ‘dream’ of owning his own business.
This man could not tell you the difference between a latte and a mocha if his life depended on it, and he probably would have smelled a bag of rabbit poop if I told him it was coffee beans. One day during a particularly busy morning, I suggested that he move his personal belongings from the largest table in our space, after watching three large groups enter the shop, see there were no tables available, and leave.
He absolutely freaked out on me, telling me that I had no idea how to run a coffee business and that I should never tell him what to do. This was on the floor, right in the middle of a full shop of customers. I said nothing, just turned to get my coat and left. He went out of business very shortly after.
Everything about that situation was just tragic. It was once a family-run business with a super loyal customer base who loved the free-trade, organic, global-awareness business model. Then this dude turned it into a rock and roll motorcycle-themed coffee shop, alienating everyone. The crash and burn was spectacular. Also, the wife whose retirement savings he blew on buying the place was undergoing treatment for cancer at the time. He was the worst.”
They Could Have Gotten People Gravely Ill
“I used to work as a butcher at a ‘high end’ shop, the kind with specialty sausages, all natural meats, exotic deli section, stuff like that. On top of the usual awful parts of working as a butcher (hard work, low pay, whiny customers, weird hours), the place never had their equipment serviced, never had their knives sharpened, sold frozen hormone-fed junk meat as ‘all natural’ complete with ‘all natural’ pricing, recycled expired meat into their hot bar food, and forced the butcher staff to work in the deli which led to customer complaints due to the blood all over our arms and aprons. This job paid just 50¢ over minimum wage.
One Sunday, the owner came back into the cutting room and started berating me for cutting new steaks to replace some old ones in the case that was obviously not going to sell as they were starting to get crusty. He screamed in Polish until he was red in the face, threw his hat on the (bloody) ground, and stormed out. I waited until it got really busy, told him to go eff himself, and left.”
They Should’ve Taken This Issue Super Seriously
“I was working at a brewery that did its own recycling, meaning I had to dump a bunch of empties into a giant can crusher. It was wet, it was dirty, and it smelled awful, but the worst part was that people would often throw out used needles with their empties. We had ‘protective gloves’ to wear but they were thin rubber trash and were only used to cover the companies butt in case something happened.
I had a couple of near misses with needles but never actually got pricked, until one day when the inevitable happened and I jabbed myself pretty badly on a needle. It went straight through the gloves like it was nothing and was literally hanging in me.
I told my manager and he said to get back to work because it wasn’t a big deal. He even denied me taking the rest of the day off so I could get it checked out. I told him to shove it and just left right there and then. I got myself checked out and I’m fine, but that being said, I don’t regret walking out. It was my boss’s complete lack of empathy that really ticked me off.”
They Could’ve Cared Less About His Newborn Child
“After my wife gave birth to our second child, I took a second job to earn some extra cash until she was able to go back to work. I was already a manager at a fast food place and my new job was at a little diner downtown. I cooked a little, did dishes, and a few other things but never really had a set position.
One day one of the kitchen crew called in and I was put in their spot. We were doing good until my wife called me to say that our newborn was running a fever. I asked the manager at the time if I could clock out and go get my wife, then she was gonna drop me back off and take the baby to the doctor herself.
The whole thing would have taken maybe 45 minutes, plus it was in the middle of the afternoon and we weren’t busy. The manager said no, so I asked for a smoke break which she granted. I just left. We didn’t need the extra money that bad for me to deal with such insensitive bullcrap.”
The Manager Was Lazy And Impatient, A Horrible Combo
“I was the weekend breakfast cook at a Friendly’s while in high school. I was completely unqualified for the job but they needed help and I needed a gig. It was a two person job, but after my first week the other breakfast cook quit.
I toughed it out for a few weekends without him and when I asked about another cook, Donna the manager said we’d save some overhead just having me cook and she’d come help when it got busy. She never helped.
Fast forward two weekends later and I was cooking with like 20 order tickets on the board. I had at least 20 eggs going along with 10 pancakes and 10 orders of French toast. I was struggling super hard to keep up so I shouted for Donna multiple times and she just sat on her butt in the office. Finally the waitresses start complaining as well so Donna waddled out of the office to help.
I was in such a hurry that I was plating orders on the wrong plates just to get them out. Donna saw this and was enraged, taking one of the orders that was up under the heat lamp and throwing it against the wall, shattering the plate. Then she turned to me and screamed, ‘What is wrong with you?!’ and started to belittle me for how behind I was.
At that exact moment, I untied my apron, dropped it on the floor, and told her that I quit. She fell all over herself apologizing and asking me to stay and help her get orders out. I just walked right out of the kitchen into the dining area and headed for the door. She started screaming, ‘You can’t quit, you can’t freaking quit!’ in front of a packed house.
The entire place went quiet and as I kept walking she started yelling about me not leaving with my work shirt on so I took it off in the middle of the restaurant and dropped it on the floor. She kept shouting so I turned around and simply said, ‘I would never eat at this restaurant after working in the kitchen, it’s disgusting.’
Then I walked shirtless to my car and as I pulled out for the last time I saw a good stream of customers leaving. Three months later the restaurant burned down; I don’t remember why, but I heard it was Donnas fault. Get stuffed Donna and Naugatuck Friendly’s.”
His Boss Totally Ignored His Stellar Track Record
“In high school I had a job pushing carts for a local grocery store. I came in, did my job, and went home. I never called off in two years working there. Then one day I ended up actually sick, running a fever, vomiting, and achy. It was just the flu, but I wasn’t going to push carts in the snow feeling like that, so, for the first time in two years, I called off sick 6 hours before my shift.
I ended up off for 3 days. I went back in feeling better with doctor’s note in hand when I was called into the office. I handed in my note and Duane (the manager) put it in the shredder and started passive-aggressively laying into me about being lazy, wanting to party, and not being dependable.
I told him it was the first time I had called in in two years, and he had just shredded the note from the doctor. He called me a liar, so I handed him the stupid florescent vest, cart rope, and name badge and left. I drove past an hour later to watch Duane pushing carts in the snow.”
It’s Never Acceptable To Threaten Violence Against Your Employees
“I used to work at an Italian restaurant and everyone who worked there was very professional and loved their jobs. However, the owner was a total moron who couldn’t run a restaurant to save his life. One night it started to get very busy so we began to restrict the number of new tables in order to keep service top-notch and so our chefs could keep up.
The owner wasn’t having it, so he ordered us to make more space in the back for customers. We ended up with about 60 customers between 2 chefs and 3 waiters. We could handle 30 at most on any other day in addition to our carryout pizza orders.
We started taking more orders but couldn’t reach enough tables in time and couldn’t get drinks out quickly, so the kitchen collapsed almost right away from having to prepare hundreds of dishes simultaneously. The boss and his mates took up two tables and started ordering tons of food while being loud and unpleasant. I began to near my breaking point from all the complaints, stress, and frustration.
The boss eventually realized that the restaurant was falling apart when guests started leaving after not getting their appetizers for over an hour. One of his friends called us up to order a pizza and was rude and difficult on the phone, so I asked him to call us back when he knew what he wanted.
The boss stormed over to me wasted and demanded to know why I was being rude on the phone and threatened to hit me if I did it again. I turned around in a fury and went to clean dishes in the back because if he hit me out front, pandemonium would break loose and the restaurant would likely be ruined forever. After an hour of angry glass drying, I told the head chef I was leaving and walked out. Now that restaurant is dying a slow death because they can’t keep any good waiters. I wonder why?”
She Probably Could Have Sued Them For This
“My bosses went away for a week and left their wanker mate in charge of the pub. I was running the bar, doing every shift under the sun, and said wanker who did NOTHING but sit around upstairs or in the bar had a go at me for sitting down during a quiet shift. I was in the first month of pregnancy at the time and I was exhausted. That really ticked me off, then I found out from the chef that the punk had been telling customers (regulars and locals mainly) that I was being ‘temperamental’ and he would be telling my bosses about it when they got back.
He did, and instead of my bosses coming to me and discussing it, they took his word for it and basically stood at the bar having a loud-enough-for-me-to-hear conversation about my ‘attitude.’ Keep in mind, this was all over the fact that I took half an hour to sit down. I didn’t get breaks or anything so if it got quiet and I had pretty much done all my jobs, I’d take a breather, plus I was pregnant!
At some point, after they’d had a nice loud discussion about why I was such an inadequate barmaid despite 2 years loyal service working my butt off for them, the boss made some snarky comment about my ability to pour a pint of Guinness and I lost it. I walked into the kitchen, told the chef I was done, and scrawled a note saying, ‘I’M NOT DEAF NOR AM I STUPID!’ chucked my keys next to it and just walked out.
The best part was that as I was getting into my car, the guy pulled up, leaned out the window, and asked if ‘everything (was) ok.’ He was told exactly where to stick it. I never heard from them after that, and when I got home it suddenly occurred to me that I probably had the reaction they wanted because if I stayed they would have had to pay me maternity leave and they couldn’t fire me for falling pregnant. Terrible!”
He Could Have Been Terribly Maimed
“I worked in a deli when I was 18-19. I enjoyed working there only because I got to learn a lot about cheese, good meats, nuts, and a fair bit of cooking. The owner was a total punk most of the time, but at times was reasonable as well.
The week before Christmas was always crazy and the man would be super stressed out and be in a horrendous mood. I’d been fed up with him for a while but two days before Christmas I’d had enough.
I was slicing up some Pata Negra ham on one of those cutting machines, the kind with the big round blade on it. My boss asked me to grab him something and I replied that I’d get it right after I was done slicing the lady’s ham.
Well, he was not happy that he had to wait 2 minutes, so he walked over and pushed me INTO the freaking cutting machine. I didn’t get hurt, but I could have easily been severely injured by that massive blade.
I switched off the machine, gave the lady her ham, and told her it was on the house. Then I went into the back, grabbed my coat, and left through the back door. The dude called me 30 minutes later to ask where I was and why I was gone.
I told him to sod off and called him some dirty names for pushing me into a blade. He thought I was kidding and told me to get back into the shop because it was busy. I said I would, but of course, I did not.”
The Definition Of Corporate Being Out Of Touch With Their Employees
“My local big chain grocery store took a big hit yesterday. Apparently, some corporate decisions came down that made working there miserable. For example, being late once got you a warning and the second tardy got you put on probation for a year with no possibility for a raise or advancement. The third got you fired.
18 people out of a full store staff walked out without any warning. When the second shift started, only 2 people showed up. When I went in last night, it was a bargain bin extravaganza. The assistant manager had to go to the back and get me a bag of dog food from stock.
While we were talking he told me about the meat department not having anyone working in it after the last shift. I said, ‘So you’re going to have to throw all of the meat away that’s on display?” He said, ‘Yeah, unless you wanna buy some really cheap meats.’ I was into it, so he went to get some buckets and I literally filled them with ground chuck, t-bones, prime rib, steak strips, lobsters, and crabs, getting it all for dirt cheap.
This morning I found out the store was temporarily closed because they didn’t have enough employees show up for work. What did they expect was going to happen when they started treating minimum wage employee’s like that?”
He Valued The Gala More Than His Job
“This happened on New Year’s Eve back when I was a cook. Management assured us that we could close the kitchen at 7 pm, clean up as fast as possible, and then get the heck out of there, which was a decent deal.
At 7:30, the hostess was still letting people in the door. It was down to me and 2 other people (we drew the short straws) and we were at the point where dishes alone were going to take several hours.
My girlfriend and I had tickets for a gala and she’s literally waiting outside in the car. I said to the hostess, ‘You need to roll up your sleeves and get going on some dishes, I don’t want to be here because you didn’t know when to close the doors.’ Twice I asked her.
8 o’clock rolls around, and she’s letting another table in. I took off my apron, handed it in, and said, ‘This is stupid, I’m leaving.’ In my mind, those gala tickets were worth more than the job, clearly. I felt bad for the kitchen staff, but I was so done. I’m glad the hostess had nowhere to go.”
The Grown Man Wanted To Step Outside To Scrap With A Teenager
“Shortly after I graduated high school I started working at Wendy’s, which wasn’t a terrible gig for that time. The pay was decent and the hours weren’t too bad, but I had a couple awful coworkers near the end of my time.
There was this one girl who would be flirty with the older assistant manager so she could get out of doing stuff. One night she refused to do her part of the stocking before we got off, so the assistant manager told me I had to do it!
I refused, as it was her area and I had already handled mine. He started chewing me out as she left with a smile, saying, ‘Byeee!’ to him. I started to walk to the time clock and told him, ‘Shut up, you old coot.’
Irate, he told me that we could ‘take it outside’ if I wanted to so I could find out just how old he really was. No lie, this old loon wanted to fight a teenager! I just stared at him, clocked out, and left. I didn’t show up for my next few shifts so I got a call with a weak apology and an inquiry about if I had reported the situation to corporate or not. I hadn’t, but you can bet your sweet bippy I did after that. Thanks for the idea, guys!”
Getting Blamed For Something You Didn’t Do Is The Worst
“I used to work front of house in a cafe bar. I had been there a year and the longer I worked there the more and more I got treated like garbage. On my last day (not that I knew it at the time) we were packed to the point where we were turning people away. It was raining and we still had people sat outside, that’s how bad it was.
The shift supervisor called in the owner for some front of house assistance and when he arrived I was asked to switch to washing pots so they had more hands at the back of house, and I did without question (team effort and all that noise).
I had been washing pots for 5 hours nonstop when the supervisor asked me to come back to the front of house. Within the first 30 seconds of me getting there, the owner came up to me and angrily said, ‘Why have you given a cold coffee to table 7?!’
I responded, ‘I haven’t, I’ve literally just come back from washing pots but I’ll go make them a hot one now.’ Then he said, ‘Step up your effing game, it’s not good enough.’ I took my name badge off, handed it to him, and walked out. If you give no respect, you get none in return.”
He Did Not Take Kindly To The Condescension
“I used to work at Burger King and believe it or not I actually liked the job. I worked with a bunch of awesome people and had one manager who absolutely loved me. But the head manager? Total witch.
So at Burger King (and I assume all fast food joints), there is a no-beard policy. Being an 18-year-old kid, I had a chinstrap, very short and clean cut, but a beard nonetheless. One day my favorite manager was scheduled to be on, so I figured I could get away with it. Nope. Just so happened that not only was my head manager there, but also the district manager.
5 minutes into my lunch rush shift, the head manager pulled me aside, in front of the district manager, and told me to shave it off. Nah. As I went to leave, the district manager pulled me aside to tell me in the most condescending way possible that I needed to bend over and take it from my superiors at all times. Are you serious? I embarrassed the heck out of my head manager and left her shorthanded during rush hour. I started my own business immediately thereafter and have been doing great ever since.”