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10 Fast Food Workers Who Redefined Customer Service

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With negative articles taking up a good chunk of your news feed these days, even the smallest act of kindness can be big news. These fast food workers took a few minutes out of their days to make someone else’s a little better—and in some cases, a lot better. 

1. THE MCDONALD'S WORKER WHO FED A CUSTOMER

Seeing this today brought tears to my eyes! Compassion has NOT gone out of style.Today I made a quick stop at McDonald...

Posted by Destiny Carreno on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Last month, Kenny Soriano-Garcia was manning a cash register at a McDonald’s in Union Station in Chicago when a customer quietly made a request. Not able to fully understand the man right away, Garcia suggested several things before figuring out he had asked for assistance eating his meal. Though it was busy, Garcia shut down his register immediately, then went to wash his hands and don a pair of gloves. Another customer caught Garcia’s act of kindness on camera and posted it on Facebook. The photo and post have since gone viral—and Garcia was recognized by McDonald’s for his above-and-beyond customer service.

2. THE QDOBA EMPLOYEE WHO DID THE SAME THING

Six months earlier and 300 miles away, Qdoba worker Ridge Quarles provided a similar customer service experience. After he helped a disabled customer get utensils and napkins for her meal, Quarles asked if there was anything else he could assist with. There was—she asked if he would mind helping her eat. Without hesitation, Quarles stopped what he was doing to honor the customer’s request. A fellow patron, one Dr. David Jones, was so impressed that he took video of the good deed and shared it online.

3. THE DAIRY QUEEN CASHIER WHO STOOD UP FOR A BLIND CUSTOMER

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In 2013, 19-year-old Joey Prusak noticed a blind customer drop $20 on the ground while standing in line to buy ice cream. The woman behind him picked up the bill and put it in her own purse. That’s where Prusak stepped in, asking the woman to return the money to its rightful owner. When she refused, Prusak, a manager at the store, asked the woman to leave. Afterward, he took $20 from his own pocket to reimburse the man. Another customer emailed the store about Prusak’s commendable deed, and eventually, word got back to Warren Buffett himself (Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns Dairy Queen). Buffett called Prusak and personally invited him to be a special guest at the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha.

4. THE WENDY'S EMPLOYEE WHO HELPED AN ELDERLY MAN NAVIGATE STORMY WEATHER

This one was a simple deed, but no less thoughtful for it. An anonymous Wendy’s employee saw an elderly man with a walker head outside with no protection from the rain. The employee held one of the restaurant’s patio umbrellas over the man until he reached his car safely.

5. THE HARDEE'S WORKER WHO HELPED A WOMAN TO HER CAR

They owed him three times that for "product placement" since Hardee's actually had nothing to do with his act of chivalry.

Posted by Doug Seagraves on Monday, July 27, 2015

Similar deed, different fast food chain. Last summer, 17-year-old Kailen Young was cleaning windows at his job at a Knoxville, Tennessee, Hardee’s, when he noticed an elderly lady trying to get to her car. Young stopped what he was doing to help the woman across the parking lot. A man who was pumping his gas across the street snapped the picture and shared it on the Hardee’s Facebook page; in turn, Hardee’s surprised Young with a $1,000 “Good Samaritan” reward.

6. THE KFC TEAM MEMBER WHO UPGRADED A CUSTOMER

It started out like any other transaction at KFC—a customer stepped up to the counter and placed his order with an employee identified only as Ms. Muza. But when he ordered nothing but a single piece of chicken, Muza decided to help. She had noticed the man selling tissue paper on the street nearby and knew he probably couldn’t afford much more out of his own pocket—so she upgraded him to a full meal using her own money. KFC recognized Muza on their Facebook page after another customer shared the incident with the company.

7. THE CHICK-FIL-A MANAGER WHO GAVE FREE FOOD TO STRANDED MOTORISTS

Some businesses might see hundreds of hungry, stranded motorists as the perfect captive audience to boost sales. But in January 2014, Mark Meadows, manager of an Alabama Chick-fil-A, helped his staff cook hundreds of sandwiches to give away to drivers stuck on a nearby highway during a blizzard. The store also invited people inside to warm up and provided free food to everyone who came in.

8. THE DUNKIN' DONUTS EMPLOYEE WHO SAVED A MAN'S LIFE

12 News

One minute, Don Pemberton was out for a bike ride in Gilbert, Arizona, as part of his Ironman training. Four days later, he woke up in a local hospital with almost no memory of what had happened to him. Had it not been for the quick thinking of Dunkin’ Donuts employee Hannah Bentley, Pemberton might not have made it at all. Bentley was working when a customer came in to tell her that a man had passed out outside. When she found him unresponsive, the CPR-trained Bentley performed the procedure for five minutes until an ambulance could arrive. Pemberton, who had suffered cardiac arrest, later presented her with a medal from his 101st marathon to say thanks.

9. THE WENDY'S TEAM THAT DELIVERED A BABY

When a customer went into labor at a Fort Wayne, Indiana, Wendy’s, employee Shanetta Stewart didn’t hesitate to help. The customer’s uncle came inside to ask staff to call 911 for his niece, whose water had broken in the parking lot. It quickly became evident that the baby was coming before an ambulance could arrive, so Stewart, a mother of six children, went out to coach the woman through her contractions. By the time paramedics got to the scene, Stewart had helped the woman deliver her baby. Both mom and baby were healthy and recovering well at the hospital later that evening.

10. THE PIZZA HUT EMPLOYEES WHO ALERTED POLICE TO A HOSTAGE SITUATION

Pizza Hut employees in Avon Park, Florida, were processing online orders when they came across something alarming: In the notes field of the order, customer Cheryl Treadway had written, “911hostage help!” They quickly alerted the local police, who were able to get to the house and successfully diffuse the situation. Treadway’s boyfriend, who police believed was high on methamphetamine, had been holding her and her three children hostage with a knife.

BONUS: THE (INCREDIBLY) GENEROUS FAST FOOD CUSTOMER

It’s not always employees doing good deeds for their customers. Last spring, Jeff Smith, a worker at Jack’s in Lawrence County, Tennessee, exited a store to find a man staring at his rundown vehicle, a 1991 Geo Storm with more than 350,000 miles on it. The man asked him how reliable the car was, and Smith said, “It’s about as reliable as it looks.” In response, the man asked Smith to follow him down the road to a small car dealership. The man disappeared inside for a few minutes, then came back out and told Smith that the blue 2001 GMC Sonoma on the lot had been paid in full for him; he could pick it up later that week. Smith wasn’t sure the gift was the real deal until the owner of the dealership showed up at Jack’s several days later with the keys and title to the truck. The man wished to remain anonymous.

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8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

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Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?
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Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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