3 out of 4 stars
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French Fried by Brett Coon is a satirical look at working in the fast-food industry. He calls on his many years of hands-on experience to walk his reader through the process of capitulating, interviewing, training, politicking, and inevitably leaving a position as a fast-food employee. Coon turns a jaundiced eye toward the industry and the caliber of the average people who become managers and frontline workers.
Coon humorously breaks down the dispassionate interview process and follows it with an equally depressing overview of the typical training a fast-food worker should expect to receive. He goes on to discuss the ins and outs of scamming breaks, landmines that are the coworkers to avoid, and the different kinds of managers one might encounter. He also has a very depressing conversation about the general lack of care and concern when it comes to food safety.
Anyone who has worked in food service or other service industries will find some enjoyment and truth in this work, especially if that position was taken out of desperation. Applying for a minimum wage job with your shiny new college degree doesn’t bode well for a person’s attitude going into a job slinging fries. He hits the nail on the head when talking about smokers getting all of the breaks and the types of customers one should expect to encounter.
While presented in terms of satire, French Fried seems to have a hard time straddling the line between humor and bitterly candid honesty. While parts of the short book are obviously satire, portions of it just read like a disgruntled employee complaining. There seems to be a bit of nuance missing from the overall tone. The relaxed writing style can be a bit of a stumbling block due to constant overly complex, run-on sentences. Inconsistent punctuation and capitalization are also present throughout the book.
While this work didn’t appeal to me as a satirical piece, it does shine a rather accurate light on the plight of those working in food service. As I read, I easily identified the Hen coworker, the Warlord manager, and the almighty Karen customers that were a part of the daily drudge during my stint at a small restaurant after graduating college. Due to the errors encountered and the slightly off tone I got from the book, I’m giving French Fried a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. Read this book if you want to reminisce about a time you survived as a low wage employee in a retail setting. I suggest you avoid this work at all costs if you are a devotee to your neighborhood fast-food restaurant; the section on food safety will have you running for the nearest grocery store and learning how to cook your own fries.
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