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Customer Shames A Drive-Thru Worker Caught Falling Asleep On His Feet In Understaffed Taco Bell — 'People Have No Compassion'

Photo: TikTok
Screenshots of TikTok showing Taco Bell worker falling asleep on his feet

Fast-food jobs have always been incredibly hard work, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, fast-food workers, along with most other restaurant workers, have had to contend with also being woefully understaffed, making the job even harder.

So when a video of an unbelievably exhausted Taco Bell worker falling asleep on his feet recently went viral, many people were outraged by what seemed like a case of an employee being so overworked he simply couldn't keep up. But others saw a far more nefarious explanation, and a heated debate quickly ensued.

A TikTok video shows a Taco Bell worker falling asleep on his feet in an understaffed drive-thru.

The footage is truly shocking. Filmed by an angry man in a Taco Bell drive-thru in Niles, Michigan, it shows a young man who appears to be in his teens or 20s fighting to stay awake and upright as he works behind the counter inside.

At one point he falls fully asleep standing up and bangs his head into the drink machine before stumbling awake and nearly falling backward.

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The man filming became increasingly angry at the Taco Bell drive-thru worker for falling asleep and holding up the line.

Despite stumbling awake after hitting his head on the drink dispenser, the Taco Bell employee continues falling asleep over and over again, at one point seeming to nearly crumple to the floor. "This is horrible. This is ridiculous," the man filming says as he watches the Taco Bell worker stumble.

Finally, the man loses his patience and knocks on the drive-thru window to wake the Taco Bell employee up. "Bro, are you good? What's going on with you, man?" he demands when the worker finally opens the window. The Taco Bell employee seems dazed, and the man filming begins to scold him. "We're waiting for food, man. You got a whole line," he says.

The Taco Bell worker then looks at the line in his drive-thru dejectedly. "You've been sitting here nodding out at the drink machine, man, you should probably not be working right now." The worker responds that "it's been a hard week," which only seems to make the customer more angry.

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The customer assumed the Taco Bell worker was nodding off from opioids and accused him of being on drugs.

In a follow-up video, the customer confronted the Taco Bell worker, angrily asking him, "So who's making the food? I don't understand what you all are doing." The employee explained that there were only two employees in the entire restaurant, himself and one other man cooking all the food.

"No, man, you guys are on drugs," the customer says to the employee, who is immediately shocked by the accusation. "No, I swear to God, dude!" he responds, "I swear on everything I love!" The customer ignores him and demands a refund, which the employee obliges, but the customer continues scolding him.

"I do apologize," he responds, "it's just every weekend, bro, it's just me and him, bro." The customer is still undeterred, shouting, "I'm trying to eat and y'all knuckleheads are in here on drugs!" When the Taco Bell worker again explains that he hasn't slept and apologizes, the customer tells him, "Dude, don't apologize to me, go get help, man."



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Many people were angered by the way the customer spoke to the Taco Bell employee.

People on social media were split on what they believed to be the reason behind the Taco Bell worker falling asleep on his feet. "This kid is not on drugs, he's obviously and visibly severely sleep deprived and you're a monster," one person on Twitter wrote. Another who worked in fast food himself commented, "He’s not high. He hasn’t slept. I fell asleep while standing working that drive-thru many times. Worst summer of my life."

But others were not even remotely convinced. "For the people who are saying 'he’s just tired,' [you] have no clue what it’s like to deal with someone nodding off from opioids," one TikToker commented. "This is what it looks like." A person with experience being on opioids agreed. "Coming from someone who was on opiates for 2 years he’s definitely nodding out."

What most people did agree on, however, was that the customer's approach was cruel and inappropriate. "Does anyone else just find this super disturbing?" one woman wrote. "That is someone’s son." Several people couldn't believe the customer didn't do anything to help. One suggested he should have called an ambulance, while another mused, "You see this and you still waiting for your food? Come on man." 

One woman on Twitter was particularly angry about the customer's approach. "It doesn’t sit right with me that this guy recorded a teenager tripping at work instead of getting him help? Then posted it on the internet for everyone in the world to see." She went on to point out that such a video could ruin the young man's life and "doesn’t help fix the epidemic of drug issues the young generation is facing."

America's opioid epidemic among young people is a truly staggering problem. The CDC found that overdose deaths among those 10-19 years old skyrocketed during the pandemic, jumping 94% from 2019 to 2020 and 109% in 2021. And the problem is trending younger all the time — a study in the journal "Pediatrics" found that the number of children under 5 dying from opioid overdoses more than doubled between 2005 and 2018, from 24% to more than 52%.

How to solve this problem remains an open question — though a functioning healthcare system and social safety net that provides adequate access to treatment and rehabilitation would certainly help. But at least in the case of this customer's TikTok, one viewer had a good place to start — "hope he gets help and you try to be more understanding."

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.