Training Videos, Part 2: Wendy’s

Our second foray into bizarre training videos brings us face-to-face with Pippi Longstocking and a series of failed attempts to appeal to urban youth.

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About a year ago, we dove headfirst into Blockbuster training videos. It was a disturbing affair

Holy shit! These videos are, like, so ridiculously 90s!

Or, like Peter Engel secretly collaborated with David Cronenberg in a fluorescent/techno-horror-inspired conspiracy to destroy Blockbuster from the inside out. Seriously, who the hell wants to work at Blockbuster after watching Buster Sales all but tell Marie to get in his goddamn van?

— but we got through it.

Since we got through Blockbuster with only modest therapy bills (well, save for Biscuit’s psychotic breakdown), we at The Zephyr Lounge: After Dark feel compelled to revisit the Golden Raspberry-worthy cinematic masterpieces companies use to teach their employees the way of the workplace. In today’s entry, we move from retail to fast food, focusing our attention on:

 

Wendy's_logo_black

 

As purveyor’s of cardiovascular distress, Wendy’s has been a staple of the fast food industry for decades. Their founder, one Mr. David Thomas, founded Wendy’s on the premise that “good ol’ fashioned haymburgers” are the “best in the bidness,” and strove until his dying day to make Wendy’s the gold-standard when it comes to grease-covered, ground-up cow bits shoved between two pieces of bread alongside pieces of a salad and sugary sauces.

And to reach that gold standard, the person making the best ol’ fashioned haymburger in the bidness needed some serious grill skills.

What began as a rejected Billy Ray Cyrus track became a longer-than-necessary introduction by Mr. Dave Thomas, then suddenly devolved into a kid who ate too many magic mushrooms learning how to operate the grill. The video is over fifteen minutes long. I don’t expect you to watch the whole thing, but if nothing else, watch from 3:30 to 11:35, and yes, that pick to your right is for the purpose of self-lobotomy.

Grill Skill is the perfect training video. It contains useful information from the guy who created the bidness, a seemingly innocuous exchange between a bright-eyed preppie and a manager who you know smokes an entire pack of menthol cigarettes each night while wondering where she went wrong in her life, malfunctioning technology as a foil for techno-horror, a bad rap by a dude who you know smokes several bowls of weed each night while wondering where he went wrong in his life, initial struggles turning into success through expedient coaching, and a happy ending for the bright-eyed preppie in a kitchen populated by people who drink excessively each night wondering where they went wrong in their lives.

But for as hilariously bad as Grill Skill is, Wendy’s isn’t done with turning away potential employees with awful information moving pictures.

In Wendy’s quest to be the best haymburger in the bidness, it was decided at some board meeting somewhere at some point that there will be strict guidelines on how Wendy’s serves cold beverages to its culinarily indecisive customer base. We are unsure of this person’s name, so for purposes of this writing, we’ll refer to this 90’s-as-fuck-looking paid actor as Rachel.

A one-minute and fifty-four second car accident, Rachel explains the company guidelines for drink presentation as if the director had recently given up on any semblance of a legitimate filmmaking career. While it seems silly to devote an entire training video to proper beverage packaging, this video is still brilliant in its awfulness. We’re not the only one’s cringing, either. Here’s what the YouTube commenters left as insight:

“I didn’t realize filling cups with liquid was so complicated it needed an instructional video.” — divefraggle

“Back when white people worked fast food.” — White Guy

“I am strangely attracted to the singing lady. Her dead stare, her sterile voice and her sickly pale skin are hypnotising [sic].” — megatroll

“Damn that drink girl was too cold, you see that ‘fuck me now’ look she gave right at the end?” — videoluvr4204

“I feel like Wendy’s was experiencing the 90’s much more vividly than we did.” — theflamelord

“This bitch got nothin’ on the ‘hot drinks’ guy.” — iamZahnder

Speaking of… If Cold Drinks is a car accident, Hot Drinks is a derailed Amtrak train.

And if Hot Drinks is a derailed Amtrak train, The Fry Guy is the goddamned Hindenburg.

Seriously, how do companies think that videos like this are going to entice prospective employees to give more than a singular shit about them? We understand these are attempts to appeal to young people — informative and kinda-culturally relevant! — but if there is one thing that turns off a young person more than the possibility of grease burns and social ridicule it’s an attempt at cultural appropriation by out-of-touch baby boomers vainly seeking to procure more human capital.

It’s possible we’re looking too much into this. Perhaps these are actually entertaining to some people? Maybe we’re just too cynical to see how impactful these videos may have been (well, except for Father Philip, who at this very moment is trying to find the director for series of inspirational videos for his church cult church).

But most of us have been resistant to this type of “trying to be cool”-type video. Granted, most of us here at The Zephyr Lounge: After Dark are early-Millennials (or Echo Boomers — we’re still trying to get that to catch), so we were often subjected to shit like this.

And people wonder why we did all of the drugs… and also ate a lot of good ‘ol fashioned haymburgers.

Featured image by Nick22aku, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

Training Videos, Part 1: Blockbuster

Blockbuster in the 1990s was a seriously messed up place…

YouTube is more than just WatchMojo lists, people playing video gamesfan-made lyric vids of your favorite songs, and Jessica Nigri. YouTube is also a bastion of weird shit and that bottomless rabbit hole yields some video gold.

This includes training videos. Yes, videos shown to new hires from some of the most powerful (and most dead) retail and hospitality companies to ever grace American capitalism with big bucks and big dreams. Making this even better is that — as anyone who has been forced to sit through these can attest — they go out of their way to be ridiculous. And by ridiculous, I mean straight-up embarrassing.

Our first foray into insane training videos comes courtesy of Blockbuster. You remember Blockbuster, right? That video rental place that was killed by technological progress? Well, in the early 1990s, the movie rental mega-giant introduced its new, pimple-faced employees to company sales strategies via a creepy TV set-inhabiting “authority on opportunity” named Buster Sales and the bookish Marie.

Holy shit! These videos are, like, so ridiculously 90s!

Or, like Peter Engel secretly collaborated with David Cronenberg in a fluorescent/techno-horror-inspired conspiracy to destroy Blockbuster from the inside out. Seriously, who the hell wants to work at Blockbuster after watching Buster Sales all but tell Marie to get in his goddamn van?

The first video (yes, there’s more) is eight minutes of customer service, Sean Connery movies, VCP rentals, Mrs. Harris, and *swoon* Brian!

Then there’s Kristin, a customer (and presumably a friend of Marie’s) who comes to the counter with way more VHS tapes than are necessary for someone whose day is “pretty bogus, actually.” But where there’s two girls talking about how “babysitting is such a drag” in a video store, you know who can’t be too far away…

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He can “see an opportunity coming,” specifically one that involves Marie and Kristin getting into his goddamn van. (Screenshot from YouTube).

Through the first training video (and yes, I repeat, there’s more), any prospective Blockbuster employee from the early 90s must have wondered whether they were hire to sell movies or learn how to spot a sex offender.

But if you think the first one is bad…

It’s Buster Sales two, ya’ll!

While looking through “our gigantic catalogue called ‘Videolog’,” Marie and the sweater-vest-wearing Saved by the Bell nerd seem to bond over Peter Sellers, because we all know, to Marie, Peter Sellers is totally “one of [her] favorite” actors. But notice when she and Ferguson from Clarissa Explains it All look through that cinematic Necronomicon, she mentions that she can order it and give him a call when it arrives, prompting the bowtie bandit to express excitement over the prospect.

Was his expression of contentment about the ease of ordering a movie from Blockbuster or the mention of Marie giving him a phone call? I honestly cannot say for sure, because the only thing I’ve learned from these Blockbuster training videos is that everyone seems to want to awaken Marie sexually.

It’s got to be the headband.

Not to be outdone, Buster Sales once again enters the fold after Marie gives Glee Club Gary his video store nerd boner. But Sales has been spurned too many times by the curly brunette jailbait and this time, he will not be ignored. In a manner befitting Patrick Bateman, and having traded a razor-sharp axe for the sharp crashing of cymbals, Buster Sales decides the best way to “get [Marie’s] attention” is to crash them together like a gleeful menace, prompting Marie to cover her ears and agonizingly react, prompting everyone else in the Blockbuster to watch what they probably assume to be the work of an invasive devil (this was filmed in Georgia, after all).

If there is a second thing I’ve learned watching these training videos, it’s that Buster Sales is not only a pervy stalker in the Georgia Blockbuster, but probably a dangerous one at that.

Oh, and there’s Doug. Doug seems to have a lot of problems.

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Doug (left) with his mom, who probably forces the kids to read Bible verses or spend his nights alone in the basement. (Screenshot from YouTube).

I know it’s been said that Netflix and Redbox were the undoing of what was once the nation’s movie rental juggernaut. But let’s be real here. If I were hired to work at Blockbuster, and this was the training material assigned to me on my first day, I’d think there was something fishy at work and promptly quit.

Seriously, the last thing I would want as a possible Blockbuster employee is to find myself talking to a creepy perv in a TV screen that no one but I could see, especially if his idea of communication is to be a pushy, intrusive ass who think he’s King Salesman and, for whatever reason, has an obsessive preoccupation with my love life.

Unfortunately, he’s also the last thing we see.

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The look of a man with a goddamn van who just began his predatory plans. (Screenshot from YouTube).

 

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Wait! Wait a minute! Doesn’t Marie look an awful lot like the girl who played Sydney in Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad?!

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Son of a bitch…! (Screenshot from YouTube)