Ever worked in fast food? It’s boring, back-breaking work for minimum wage, in case you haven’t. The monotony is temporarily interrupted when an angry customer acts out or when drama flares up between co-workers, but, other than that, it’s pretty mind-numbing. I worked in fast food for a couple years when I was younger, operating the front cash register. I know you wouldn’t think it because it’s hard to picture ghosts haunting your local Wendy’s, but I had some creepy stuff happen to me at one specific place.
The first time I ever felt spooked was when I was closing at the end of my shift one night. I wasn’t the only person in the store, but I was the only one clocking out at 10:30 because everyone else was on drive thru duty and had to stay late. I’d closed a million times, so I knew the drill and quickly busied myself with the mundane tasks of sweeping and mopping. My damn manager was so cheap, he hadn’t replaced our broken vacuum yet, so I had to sweep the entire carpeted dining room with a broom.
I finished, my back throbbing from sweeping the carpet, and stocked the front counter before heading back to the bathrooms. I cleaned the men’s first, saving the worst for last (the women’s is always nastier). When I opened the door to the women’s restroom, I immediately noticed sneakers under the door of one of the stalls, but the owner of the feet instantly stepped up onto what I presume was the toilet, their shoes quickly panning out of sight.
‘Well, fuck,’ I remember thinking. ‘I locked a customer in.’
“Hello?” I called.
I wiped up the counter, not wanting to make the situation any more uncomfortable, then I worked through each stall except for the occupied one. It probably took me ten minutes to get the bathroom clean, minus the stall the customer was using. I’m a pretty awkward person on my best days, so when I had no task left but to get to that last toilet, I was unsure of what to do. I didn’t want to pressure someone to finish shitting, but I needed them out.
“Um, ma’am? We’re closed now. I must have mistakenly locked you in.”
The stall door made a clicking sound from the inside and opened with a grating squeak. The stall I’d thought was occupied was empty. I didn’t tell my manager about the incident because who wants all their co-workers and boss to think they’re bat-shit crazy?
Another time, a perturbed customer with an unusual complaint approached me at the register.
“I’d like to speak to a manager.” Her frown was so deep, it looked like it was going to split her face open.
“Yes, ma’am.” I was not the least bit interested in what she wanted to complain about, so I happily fetched my manager and brought him to her.
“Yes, ma’am, how can I help you?” he asked cheerily.
Her eyelids fluttered dramatically as she spoke.
“I just came through the drive thru and one of your young ladies was standing in the first window, staring a hole through me. She started bugging her eyes out at my husband and me and making this, this grotesque face. I asked her what her problem was, and she just ignored me and walked off.”
Before I could stop myself, I’d blurted out, “What was she doing with her face?”
“Her…mouth. She was smiling so hard that her lips curved, well, they curved up…unnaturally high. It was disturbing, I tell you. I guess it was just a prank, but it bothered us a lot.”
My manager looked extremely unhappy, but something more was written in his expression-he appeared to be a little creeped out.
“I am so sorry, ma’am. If you could describe what she looked like, I’ll gladly take care of it. And I’d be happy to give you two free large fries.”
“Oh, no, don’t bother about the free food. She had blonde, shoulder-length hair, really white skin, and the darkest eyes I’ve ever seen. Thanks for taking the time to listen-I don’t normally like to make complaints, it just scared us, is all.”
After she’d gone, my manager and I exchanged looks. I was waiting for him to speak, waiting for him to admit aloud that there was nobody working that night who matched the lady’s description.
Instead, he said, “Go on, back to work.”
After lunch rush on a Tuesday, I went to the freezer to grab some more meat for the grill operator. I’m a paranoid person, so even though the freezer was not going to lock you in when it closed, I always propped it open with a box just in case. This time, I forgot, and when I tried to get out, the door wouldn’t budge.
I took a deep breath to calm the rush of anxiety that had started in my chest and now poured into my extremities, then I pushed on the lever, putting my weight into the door. It refused to come open. I banged on the door as loudly as I could, my hands getting sore from the impact. Then, the light flickered off. Now I was in full-fledged panic mode, literally throwing my body at the door.
“HELP, c’mon, SOMEBODY!”
As I finished my plea for assistance, I detected another sound, besides me flailing around: heavy, slow breathing, directly over my left shoulder. My heart skipped a beat.
The door opened, and the grill operator stood smirking at me.
“What is taking you so long to get that meat?”
“I-I got locked in.”
“Really?” he asked.
I insisted I was telling the truth, and to prove it, I told him to go in, shut the door, and see if he could get it open, with me standing on the other side to let him out when he failed. I also wanted to see if he heard anything weird, without mentioning that I was hearing things like a crazy person. He entered and pulled it to, but a couple seconds later, he opened it and waltzed right out.
“You closed it all the way?” I asked.
“Yup. It didn’t lock, Annie.”
“Then how did I get locked in?”
“Dunno, but the light in there needs to be fixed.”
The last time something weird happened to me at that place of work was during another night shift. I was taking the trash out and saw a girl, probably about 18 years old, leaning against the dumpster, her forehead touching its rusted metal. She was in uniform, so I thought, ‘We have a new girl?’
I was going to say hello, but as I got closer, she shuffled further away from me, never removing her forehead from the dumpster. The weird thing was that she didn’t really look like she was moving her feet and legs, yet, somehow she progressed around the perimeter of the receptacle; by the time I was catapulting the trash into it, she’d moved around to the opposite side, out of my line of vision. I just assumed she was having a rough time at a new job, so I left her alone and went back inside.
“The new girl seems upset,” I told the guy working the drive thru register.
“We have a new girl?” he asked. “Is she hot?”
I shot him an incredulous look.
“I don’t know, I didn’t get a good look at her face.”
“Who’s face?” my manager asked as he walked in from the dining room.
“The new girl, is she hot?” drive thru guy questioned.
The manager scrunched his forehead up.
“There is no new girl, you guys.”
I gotta tell you, I was one hundred percent certain the restaurant was haunted after that night. I’m a reasonable person, but the things I witnessed there still send tingles up my spine to this day. And what happened a couple years after I’d quit that job only confirmed my thoughts.
I was catching up with my friends on a Friday night. My best friend slapped me on the back and said, “Hey, did you hear a manager at that fast food place you used to work at killed himself?”
“No, really? Do you know which one? I mean, I doubt it’s anyone I know, it’s been so long since I worked there.”
“I can’t remember the name, but, oh my God, he left a suicide note confessing to raping and killing a girl that used to work there years and years ago! Isn’t that insane?”
My face paled.
“What? That’s crazy-where did you hear this?”
“It was on the news last night.”
I got home that night and did some Googling. What I found out was this: the manager was my old manager. He’d hung himself, leaving a suicide note behind. The note said that back in the 90’s, he’d raped a girl who worked under his supervision named Layna Stevens. Afterwards, he bludgeoned her to death and disposed of her body in the dumpster on the premises. He said she haunted him everyday after that, and he just couldn’t take it anymore.
When I saw her missing persons picture, I was completely convinced that she was the girl I’d seen leaning against the dumpster: blonde and pale.
The restaurant is shut down now, though I don’t know the reason behind its closing. I drive by it often; now it’s just an eerie abandoned building in town.
You never know the history of a place…or a person.