A Very Brief History of the Battle Between Fast-Food Workers and Police
Name tag-wearing fast-food vigilantes use whatever they have on hand—condiments, a mouthful of spit, and their own restaurant’s speakers—to carry out their own brand of justice.
Photo via Flickr user Steve Baker
I go through enough drive-throughs to know that, most of the time, you have to loudly and repeatedly beg into the loudspeaker if you want any squeezable condiments to be thrown into your bag. That's not the case at one Topeka, Kansas McDonald's restaurant, especially if you're a police officer.
According to WIBW, in separate incidents, at least two police officers reported that their drinks were liberally seasoned with mustard after taking their cruisers through the drive-thru at that particular McDonald's. One officer shared a picture of his disgusting-looking Dr. Pepper on social media and reported the incident to the McManagement, who swiftly fired the employee responsible.
The Topeka Police Department has reportedly opened a criminal investigation, and Tom Dobski, the Topeka McDonald's franchisee, has apologized, saying, "We proudly support police officers" and they are always welcome at McDonalds. A 2001 article from the Wall Street Journal quotes Taco Bell as giving a nearly identical hollow apology after a police officer found phlegm in his nachos. That article claimed there were a rising number of similar incidents.
Fifteen years later, name tag-wearing vigilantes are still figuratively (and literally, in one case) shouting "Fuck the Police" by using whatever they have on hand: condiments, a mouthful of spit, and their own restaurant's speakers. Here are just a few of those incidents from the last five months alone:
In July, police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana looked into their cups at the Las Palmas Mexican restaurant and decided that it looked like someone had spit in them. According to a now unavailable Facebook post, the officers confronted a manager who refused to confirm "who spit in their drinks." According to Snopes, Las Palmas eventually posted its own response on Facebook, and the writer said that he or she had reviewed the restaurant's surveillance tapes and never saw any employees spitting in anyone's drinks, law enforcement or otherwise.
Also in July, workers at a Zaxby's in Shelby, North Carolina allegedly served the hottest possible hot wings to a group of police officers. "As they sat down to eat their food, my husband realized [they] had put the hottest sauce possible on [his] wings—to the point where his food wasn't even fit to eat," the wife of one officer wrote online. The woman said that the Zaxby's workers also yelled insults at her husband and his colleagues. A Zaxby's spokesperson told WBTV that the company quickly launched an internal investigation into the incident.
In August, an 18-year-old Subway employee was arrested after being accused of putting meth and THC into a Utah police officer's drink. "[Layton Police Detective Kelly Rushton] began feeling the effects of being drugged," a police report about the incident says. "While approaching an intersection that had a red light, he had difficulty getting his foot to move to the brake pedal. [He] drove to the Layton Police Department, where he was observed to have signs of impairment. He was unable to process information and drifted off, and was unable to focus on questions being asked of him." The Subway worker, Tanis Lloyd Ukena, was arrested and faced felony charges, but later tests on the officer's drink failed to detect any illegal substances, and all charges against Ukena were dropped.
In September, police officers in Coral Springs, Florida said that workers at a Dunkin' Donuts had spiked their coffees with soap. "After ordering coffee, the officer noticed that an employee was sneering at her as the employee placed the coffee on the counter," the Coral Springs Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 87 wrote on Facebook. "The officer took one sip and noticed a strong soap taste in the coffee and she believes they rang out a dirty dish rag into the coffee cup." The same employee allegedly pretended to spit in the officer's coffee when she went back to that Dunkin a few days later. According to the FOP's Facebook post (and jeez, is that the only way these things are ever reported?) the employee was later suspended for her behavior.
In October, a dishwasher at Going's Barbeque & Steak Co. in Crosby, Texas played N.W.A.'s classic "Fuck tha Police" when a group of police officers came into the restaurant. Deputy Shane Cates wrote a widely shared (and since-deleted) Facebook post about it, before going back to the restaurant to demand an apology. The 17-year-old dishwasher was fired and his mother apologized to a local news station on his behalf and, in a contrite Facebook post, the restaurant partially blamed the incident on the "language barrier."
It should be noted that the WSJ article claimed cops have been getting paranoid about their food getting messed since at least 2001, and many of these accusations remain unproven. Still, if we're judging from the past, we really shouldn't expect these incidents (or at least the accusations) to stop until robots replace humans behind the counter. After all, if Super Troopers taught us anything, it's that there are no shortage of fast-food workers who find hocking loogies in cops' burgers and messing with their liter colas really entertaining.