Melissa Crank began working at McDonald's nearly a decade ago, and to this day continues to greet late-night customers with a joy that keeps them coming back.
Melissa wasn't always so joyful. Before moving to Oxford, she was unsatisfied with her living situation in Hamilton -- there she worked mostly hard labor jobs in factories. The pay was enough to support herself and her children, but after suffering a minor heart attack from the physically taxing work, she knew she needed a change.
She applied to RDIConnect Oxford, a telemarketing company, and was hired. Two weeks later, Melissa was let go. Though she didn't like the job to begin with, the layoff left her scrambling to find a way to support her family.
"I had no job. No money to take care of my kids," Melissa said. "I was down on my luck."
On a whim, she applied to McDonald's, where she was granted an interview and was quickly hired
"They saved me. They saved my kids, they saved me," said Melissa. "That's why whenever I come to work, I put in everything I have."
Melissa is known throughout Oxford for her positive attitude, a seeming rarity in the fast-food industry. Her shift begins at 9 p.m. and extends well into the early hours of the morning. Yet, no matter what time customers arrive to her drive-thru, she greets them with a joyful "Hi, this is Melissa!"
Stephanie Burnside, an administrative assistant in Miami's Campus Services department, wrote about the positive experiences she has had with Melissa on Facebook in the Oxford Talk Facebook group. She recalls going to McDonald's on many occasions, hoping she'd run into Melissa.
"She's just so engaging," said Stephanie. "She always seems super genuine. You hope you get her when you're there."
With McDonald's being so close to Miami, many students visit frequently. Melissa recognizes many of them immediately, even years after they've graduated.
"I have kids from Miami from four to five years ago who come back to visit," she said. "It's that kind of interaction that keeps me here."
Austin Lamewona, a junior marketing and arts management major, has made several late-night runs to the McDonald's drive-thru and says he's been greeted by Melissa every time.
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"She's always such a bright light in my oftentimes not-bright night," said Lamewona. "It's very comforting to have someone there who is always going above and beyond."
Melissa says she has made a point to try and change the perception of fast-food customer service as brusque and impersonal.
"I wanna make sure when a customer comes through my drive through, they want to come back," said Melissa. "I want people to want to come [to McDonald's]."
Through everything Melissa has endured, she knows she is in the right place.
"Once I put that headset on, and I was in the drive-thru. I knew this is where I was supposed to be," said Melissa. "I love my job, and I don't plan on going anywhere any time soon."