A woman speaking to the camera, a McDonalds sign, and a McDonalds burger. There is text in the middle of the photo that says 'Main Character of the Week' in a Daily Dot newsletter web_crawlr font.

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Main Character of the Week: McDonald’s secret shopper

The internet is fascinated by the controversial side hustle.


Ramon Ramirez


Posted on May 4, 2024   Updated on May 5, 2024, 6:23 am CDT

Main Character of the Week is a weekly column that tells you the most prominent “main character” online (good or bad). It runs on Fridays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.

The internet is a stage, and someone unwillingly stumbles onto it weekly. This makes them the “main character” online. Sometimes their story is heartwarming, like the DoorDash driver who put a customer on blast for ordering twice in the same day; usually it’s a gaffe. In any case, that main character energy flows through the news cycle and turbo-charges debate for several business days.

Here’s the 
Trending team’s main character of the week.

It’s the McDonald’s secret shopper who went to McDonald’s and got hit on by a McDonald’s worker. As we reported this week: The McDonald’s worker, per Kayla the secret shopper, asked her if she was satisfied when handing her the order, told her to come back if she wasn’t, and winked.

He was licking his chops at me,” Kayla said, alleging that the man was looking at her in a suggestive manner.

Kayla (@kaylalaughsoutloud) uses her TikTok to post about her life as a secret shopper. For the uninitiated, secret shoppers get paid by brands to check out their storefronts via plain-clothed drop-ins. It’s the kind of job that’s existed for decades, but in the social media era has gained notoriety for its consequential nature, secretive execution, and our perpetual fascination with side hustles.

It’s an appealing gig for narcs who want to turn on their fellow comrades in the labor trenches. A certain type of personality will enjoy nothing more than silently judging you while being paid to stuff their face at Outback Steakhouse.

Kayla faced a particularly hilarious and heinous breach of company best practices. Her cheeseburger was overpriced, incorrectly assembled, strewn with too many onions, and to top it off the drive-thru guy got fresh with her. She is a victim and her TikTok is a fascinating window into a cloak-draped profession that we appreciate at the Daily Dot.

Even then, I’m of the opinion that secret shoppers exist to subjugate workers. Quality control is merely their guise.

The internet both values these jobs and is fascinated by them. Every time we cover secret shoppers at the Daily Dot it tends to yield significant pageviews.

Our stories about them are bolstered by human relatabilitybrand recognition, and political subtext. After all, every reader is a worker or a customer.

On Thursday, a Target customer broke decorum and snapped at one for following her around the store. It’s happened before. At Walmart, too.

Secret shoppers get the creepy “floor walker” name at Walmart, and likewise, customers have tried to troll them as retaliation for their overbearing nature. This has happened to Black customers, too, who have expressed disdain for secret shoppers who make them feel profiled.

Our collective understanding of secret shoppers in a post-Undercover Boss world has even turned the gig into a status symbol and bargaining chip. In March, someone threatened workers who said their ice cream machine was broken by telling them they were a secret shopper.

Do you know who I am? I’m the man who gets his meal comped in exchange for evaluating your commitment to the process, bucko. I am the one who knocks.

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*First Published: May 4, 2024, 6:00 am CDT