‘Ms. Harriet’ gets big award

Published 11:08 pm Friday, February 3, 2012

To Harriet King, everybody is an angel.

The cashier at McDonald’s on College Drive in North Suffolk calls everyone “angel” or “sweetheart” as she takes their order.

Customer service: North Suffolk McDonald’s employee Harriet King, left, known to many as “Ms. Harriet,” and her franchise owner, Leslie Wheeler, show off the banner proclaiming Ms. Harriet to be “Crew Person of the Year” for the Baltimore and Washington region.

“I’m very people-oriented,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of love, and I like to show it.”


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Recently, her employer decided to show her a little love back.

King, whom customers and co-workers call “Ms. Harriet,” recently was honored with the McDonald’s Crew Person of the Year Award. The award is given to only 23 McDonald’s employees nationwide. Company executives surprised her during her shift Jan. 27 with flowers, balloons, a plaque and a check for $500.

“That totally blew me away,” the 55-year-old King said. “It was just unbelievable.”

King beat out 35,000 other employees in the Baltimore/Washington region for the award. The region includes restaurants in Hampton Roads, the greater Richmond area, the Eastern Shore, Shenandoah Valley, the greater Baltimore area and the greater Washington, D.C. area.

“For our winner to land right here in Suffolk is great,” said Kristen Wells, a public relations account executive for Moroch, which does marketing for McDonald’s.

Only 23 employees — one franchise employee from each of McDonald’s 22 regions and one employee from the company-owned restaurants — earn the award each year. Recipients must be rated as “exceeding standards,” have worked at their restaurant for at least a year, be leaders in their restaurant, live to delight the customer, demonstrate “I’m lovin’ it” service, receive compliments from customers and co-workers and have school or community involvement.

King certainly embodies all of those things — without even trying.

“I don’t even know what my rating is,” she said upon hearing the criteria. “I’ve just been trying to keep it low-key.”

King has been working at the restaurant for eight and a half years. She got the job when she decided to come back to work after being a stay-at-home mother.

“I’ve gotten so attached to the customers,” she said. “They’ve become a part of my extended family.”

King works from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. five days a week. She usually works either at a register or handing out food at the drive-through.

“Either one is fun, because you get to give love wherever you’re at,” she said.

King was nominated for the award by the restaurant’s owners, Jim and Leslie Wheeler.

“She sets the highest standard for customer service,” Leslie Wheeler said. “She treats everybody the same, she’s warm, she’s friendly, and all our customers love her.”

The Wheelers have 270 employees at six restaurants in the area. They have matched the company award check with an additional $500.

King still is getting over the shock of being honored out of 35,000 eligible employees.

“I’m very stunned,” she said. “It’s very humbling. I didn’t realize the magnitude of it. It just didn’t really register.”