When we came to Switzerland, we came as a family. We came, all 5 people, betting on the company we had started and that is going well, thanks to the effort of a good team. But by 2019, the company, that I am a partner, needed to save money to reinvest in the near future. Since my work at the company is all on the computer and generally, except for a few meetings, I do everything in about two hours a day, so we decided to lower my income so the company could save a little more capital.

I had to look for another job. My German is meager, I read well, I understand well, but I speak very badly. I did eleven months of german course, finished level B2, but at home, we speak Portuguese and, until then, at work, I only spoke English, so I speak German just enough to communicate in the basics. Thus, a job or occupation compatible with my “qualifications” and experiences is quite difficult.

Leia aqui em português!!!

Following the experience of other Brazilians here, I looked for RAV (the office that serves the unemployed workers). There, the help was poor. But from there I was referred to the office of professions, university courses, and career (yes, here we have a structure organized by the canton to coach our careers). In this office, I got some interesting information and got a good organized in my resume.

With this reorganization of my resume, in two weeks, again following other Brazilians, I was working at Mc Donalds.

Just calculate: a master’s degree in education, two postgraduate degrees, an office psychologist for 17 years, and a businessman, in a matter of two months, I was now mopping up MC Donalds and making Big Macs. It looks like a rock bottom, and until the first day of work, that’s how I felt.

A punch to the stomach, as if everything I’ve ever sown in my life has been worthless.

Pure prejudice on my part.

On August 16, 2019, I completed two months at MC Donalds, I am working as a production assistant. I started on the Hamburger, Cheeseburger and Big Mac production line. In this production line, we also do (yes, I still work there as I write this post) the Doble Cheeseburger, the Doble MC Bacon and the Gluten-Free line.

At the shop where I work, at the end of that same production aisle, we make Big Tasty and Big Tasty Bacon and Royale Cheeseburger. I didn’t visit the production of other stores, I don’t know if they are the same. But on the opposite side, we have the BOP, where the other sandwiches are produced, and all the fried foods are prepared.

My prejudice has broken down. Working at MC Donalds has been a really cool experience.

The great thing about MC Donalds is the organization of the work process: mass production of food for immediate sale. The organization of the production process is so well done, so well thought out that if it takes you more than a few seconds to resolve any step in the process, you are missing movements, literally making movements that you need not be doing.

The organization is so great, the process so simple (of course, absolutely repetitive) that in 3 days I could fill the sandwich at the same time the burgers were grilling: 41 seconds. To give you an idea, burgers and cheeseburgers are made, usually in batches of 8. So, 8 rolls are stuffed while 8 burgers grill on the grill.

By the end of 15 days, I was able to make all the sandwiches in the aisle and to make them well made and beautiful.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a book´s person, I’m not a skilled craftsman, and I only started cooking after the end of my first marriage. Therefore, I am not a typical person for culinary work. The merit for this sudden productive competence lies in the franchise’s working methodology.

MC Donald’s work methodology is almost absolutely perfect. Functional and easy to learn, it allows, with a minimum of attention and concentration, to be able to master the production process.

That’s how, in 15 days, I became a good employee. In the month of July, I was able to make a reasonable amount of money by covering colleagues’ vacations and accepting all the possibilities they offered me to work a little more. I had days when I worked 10 hours, with breaks every two hours.

In the shop where I work, almost all employees are foreigners. The Swiss who work there generally work at the cashier and customer service and are very young (18, 19 years old), while at the various stages of production the workers are foreigners: Tamils (Sri Lanka) and Albanians are prevalent ethnicities in my store.

But I work with Hungarians, Macedonians, Italians, Dominicans, Bosnians, Thais, Indonesians and me, Brazilian / Swiss.

Everyone with typical immigrant life situations: looking for a better place for themselves and future generations.

I tell a brief story of a co-worker.

58 years old, shortly before retirement in Switzerland, this lady came from Sri Lanka with a child on her lap and another in the womb and, with her husband, they fled the war that had broken out in their country.

Today, after twenties years in Switzerland, she has completed 7 years of MC Donalds. The money she earns there, working hard and being a great teacher for beginners ( a person who I have a lot to thanks), in every process, was invested in the college of her two children: one will graduate in medicine next year and the other in engineering in two years. From war to two diplomas in leading professions in Switzerland.

What an immigrant!

Another very beautiful story: my store manager came from Serbia (probably on the fled from the war, people from Serbia and Albania don’t talk about it and I don’t ask either). She learned German. His first job was MC Donalds. She was relocated to the store where I work to improve process quality and lift the sales in the store. Within two months, she has put the store up to franchise standards and expectations.

Three months after her arrival at the shop, I enter the store, what a sadness for her. But what a story it carries: from war to the benchmark of quality management. She is dicteted by the rules but she is absolutely kind and polite. Just yells at the bank slips, just like me!!!!

Mc Donalds has been an option that has far exceeded my prejudice. As a customer, I heard the screams on the production line. I thought this should be the end of the world. But because of the overall production noise, the overall production rush and the energy that is shifted to achieve production, the tone of voice gets louder because the energy gets high.

Rough discussions often happen mainly when German is not well-spoken or understood (which makes it much more dangerous, because it is often very funny). But there is a global understanding that we are all in the same boat, and peace reigns afterward.

Managers sweep the floor and wash trays. Yes, managers fry potatoes and often they come to production to make sandwiches and support the line, and obey the production controllers. Managers clean grease from fryers, take out the trash, gather trays and cut tomatoes, unload deliveries and, most of all, control the production system. Anyway, they know they’re there for whatever comes and goes.

All shift managers, plus the general manager, all know my name. I work there on a 20-hour (part-time) week contract and everyone knows my name and surname. No, I’m not a model employee or a remarkable person, I work well, but I’m not a reference. Managers know the names of all 69 employees who take turns in the various shifts. Managers carry the vision that they need to set an example of work, education, and respect.

The elders in the store are treated with deference and respect, a gentleman, also from Sri Lanka, has worked in this store for 30 years!!! He was one of the first employees to work there. I learned a lot from him and, inside the store, he is a legendary figure. The notion of equality, of democracy, of individual law is present without losing the notion of respect for the office and individual responsibility.

Everyone has their duties to do with the MC Donalds mission. Everyone within this organizational system, within the work methodology, does their part. No one is more than anybody else, but the manager has a duty to keep track of schedules and accountability, although they also clean the floor when necessary.

We’re all in the same boat: Anyone trying to anchor the boat in a new land. In my shop specifically: immigrants looking for a better space for their lives and their descendant’s lives.

Working at MC Donalds, I was able to understand in practice what we call the community of practice, the group of people who share a common goal with each other and who, for that purpose, need to share an extremely hard-working, methodical work that needs to be done with one. An unmatched degree of excellence (I remind the reader that my store is in Switzerland, the franchise banners need to be 101% followed).

For this, in addition to sharing this common goal, it is necessary to share the necessary knowledge and the technique resulting from this knowledge, so that everyone can reach the standard, the desired quality standard.

It is implied in the store that everyone needs to have the same quality, the same capacity and the same knowledge about all processes. This learning space is available in the space between people as if there were a shelf of handouts with “Good Production Practice Manuals” to read. No need to go, just ask, it is there.

Today, two months after it started, I am pleased to accompany two “newbies” on their production journeys: “put lettuce like this, please” (always with please and thank you, politely). Plus, to be pleased to see the person placing the lettuce as recommended by the standard, by the banner. That is, seeing the person become part of the team.

Of course, I leave the store very tired because the work is heavy, the salary is not the best, but it helps me a lot at this moment.

But working at MC Donalds, more than a career plan or insurance for the future has been a great, really enjoyable experience and a great start on this journey outside my own company.

But by far, as the good psychologist, I imagine I am, the best thing about MC Donalds is the people, their stories and their experiences. I don´t know how to thanks them all!!

Obrigado, Salamat, Nandri, Falemndreit, Ravla, Köszönöm, Khxbkhun, Grazie, Gracias, Thanks, Danke!

Raul de Freitas Buchi

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