A beloved fast-food restaurant employee has fallen on hard times and is receiving help from the students he once served.
Ishmael Mohammed Jr. was more commonly known as “Junior” or “The Wendy’s Guy” when he worked on the campus of the University of Texas. For a guy who took people’s orders at the cash register of a Wendy’s, he was relatively well-known.
If you had the chance to witness Junior in action, you immediately saw why. With an infectious personality, funny catch phrases and lightening quick keystrokes, Mohammed became popular with the student body. During his run from 1998 to 2012, the Wendy’s employee broke the world record for most fast-food transactions in 30 minutes. Mohammed rang up 246 transactions from noon to 12:30 one day.
“Junior puts the fast in fast food,” he said in a documentary produced by a UT alumnus about him and his record-setting day. “Even my job, I go home and I dream about it. That’s how much I love my job.”
But in 2012, Junior left his job to move back to his hometown of New York. No one on campus heard from him, until last week.
Benjamin McPhaul, who graduated in 2011, was with his fiancée when a homeless man approached him on the West Mall part of campus. McPhaul recognized the person asking him for money.
“It took me a moment, and then I knew it was Junior,” McPhaul told the Alcade. “He told me his mom had died and that he was homeless.”
Alcohol might have also played a role in Mohammed’s downfall. The Daily Texan notes in an article published Friday that the former Wendy’s employee mentioned alcohol multiple times during their interview. He even admitted to being drunk the day he broke that record.
But Mohammed says he is ready to change the conditions that he and his children are living in. With the help of McPhaul and many other generous donors, that might just happen. The UT alumnus set up a Go Fund Me page for Mohammed after their chance run-in on campus. Over 1,500 donations poured in, amounting to $30,000.
“We can’t just give a homeless man $30,000; he has nowhere to keep it, and it would be very unsafe,” McPhaul told the Daily Texan. “We are trying to avoid a negative outcome and want to involve professionals.”
McPhaul says that he is in contact with social workers to help Mohammed and his family transition to a new living arrangement.