ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Days after a video of an Abilene Long John Slivers employee throwing ice into a customer’s car during a dispute went viral, his former co-worker wrote a letter describing the ‘high stress environment’ that could have led to the ordeal.

This co-worker, who wished to remain anonymous, says he has been in fast food management for years and even worked with the Long John Slivers employee, Ethan Donald, at a different establishment in the past.

Earlier this week, a customer recorded an altercation with Donald in the drive thru lane, which escalated to a point where Donald threw a cup of ice into her vehicle.

In his letter, the former co-worker said that though there is no excuse for this behavior, most fast food workers these days are “severely underpaid and over worked.”

He goes on to say that his current store is missing about half the staff it needs, meaning his team often works nearly two weeks in a row with no thanks and a lot of poor treatment from the public.  

“Every single day we get cussed out, called every name in the book over the stupidest stuff. We even had a gun pulled on a manager because customers milk shakes were taking to [sic] long,” the letter reads in part.

This former co-worker wished to remain anonymous but did say KTAB and KRBC could share the full letter as follows:

I just wanted to tell you a little bit of what came to my mind when I read your story about Ethan Donald and Long John Silvers.

I have been a fast food manager for roughly five years now. I have actually worked with Ethan at a different quick service restaurant and went to school with him. He’s a good guy and a good worker. Unfortunately, his mental condition does affect him at times. Most of the time it doesn’t but high stress brings it out more. 

Now I want to tell just how poorly everyone in the food industry is treated. 

We are understaffed, all restaurants. My current store should have 57 people and we have 23. We are working often 13 days in a row, 12 or more hours a day, closing the store sleeping for 3 hours and turn around and open back up. We are tired, we are severely underpaid and over worked. 

No, that does not give us the excuse to treat customers poorly. But even more so over the past 2 years, the general public has been getting meaner and nastier with us for no good reason.   For instance, if we forget to put a condiment in the bag, I have been cussed out. If an order is taking a little longer than usual, customer will call and asked where there food is, when that happens it takes me away from making it to help them and takes longer. 

Every single day we get cussed out, called every name in the book over the stupidest stuff. We even had a gun pulled on a manager because customers milk shakes were taking to long. 

Customers call us every name in the book, but since we are so desperate to keep our $8-$12 jobs while our bosses make over $100k per year, we can’t do anything about it. Literally the worst thing I’ve said to a customer is “Sir, there are 27 of you and 3 of us, I will have your order out as soon as I can”   
Some employees can’t hold all that in and eventually it explodes and we loose our job and have to start over. 

The point I’m trying to make and what we need the public to know. Be patient, be kind. You have no idea what we have been though and going though. The food service industry has been hit the hardest in the hiring pandemic. There are a ton more customers than employees and we really are doing the best we can.

Donald did quit his job at Long John Silvers soon after the viral video was recorded.

Read more about the incident here.