She works hard for the money...

Monday, April 27, 2009

When I turned 16, my mom hauled me off to Service NB to apply for a social insurance number, and I knew my sunny days of laying out on the patio reading Stephen King books, adjusting my schedule around Days of Our Lives, and practicing layups in my driveway while blasting C103 on the garage radio all summer were over. It was time to join the ranks of the working stiffs and get a job. Sloth-like laziness Childhood innocence was out and workin' for the man was in. The first and only place I half-assedly applied for work that spring was the McDonald's in Sackville, only because I had lots of friends working there, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to socialize and eat Chicken McNuggets. I was called in for an interview one super hot July morning and before I'd made it home, the restaurant had called to let me know I had the job--and just like that I was a member of the workforce.

My starting wage was $5.60 an hour which was a big deal because minimum wage in New Brunswick was only $5.50 at the time. Already I was making better money than my peers slogging it out at, say, Wendy's across the street. Losers. Plus we had free uniforms. My first uniform consisted of a turquoise golf shirt and matching visor, black pants, black sneakers, and a hair net. So sexual.

I believe everybody should work at least one shift in a fast food establishment. There is truly no better way to learn to deal with the absolute scuzziest, rudest, most ignorant people in the universe. If you're having a bad day at work, I guarantee that getting second-degree burns on your arm from a hot fry basket*, cleaning up someone's post-Big Mac explosive diarrhea remnants in the customer washroom**, or being sexually harassed by someone twice your age and with half your IQ*** is probably worse.

I think people are really quick to pass off fast-food industry employees as slow, unmotivated and dumb. In many ways, McDonald's was one of the hardest jobs I've ever had. We were on our feet all day and at our store we hustled. Our managers were like hawks; there was no swiping free cheeseburgers on breaks or spitting in burgers or slacking off in the break room building towers out of hot mustard packets. Work was exhausting and challenging. It was also fun. I made new friends at work quickly--nothing brings you close together like working eight hours for forty bones and coming out smelling like a sweaty greaseball at the end of the day. I especially loved opening shifts. I'd get to the store at 5:30 AM, when it was still dark, and get to set up for the day--putting out the breakfast stuff, setting up, getting the first pot of coffee brewing...early mornings before any customers rolled in were the best.

The best things about working in fast food, for me, were being cured of any lingering shyness and getting into the habit of working quickly and hard. I learned to appreciate money--you're a lot less likely to spend $100 on a pair of jeans when you'd slaved all week to earn that amount. After two years of part-timing it, I left for my first "real" job that didn't involve a name tag with a considerably fatter ass and plumper bank account, and never looked back. But I definitely have a huge appreciation for my many hours worked at Rotten Ronnie's. There are lots of first jobs I could have had that would have been worse. Wendy's, for example.

*This happened in my first month of work. I had a grid pattern burned into my forearm for the rest of high school.
**This happened too. It was sick. I wore six pairs of plastic gloves and gagged the rest of the weekend.
***A guy in his mid-30s wearing sweatpants and a jean jacket pulled the waistband of his sweatpants dangerously far out and asked if I wanted a treat of the week. Me: "Ummm...would you like Coke to drink?" Him, slurring: "It would be more like a treat of the century." Ooooh baby.

You Might Also Like


  1. So I was playing around on Twitter for poops and giggles, just trying to like it. Gawked at the two people I know on it and when I was on yours I followed the tinyurl. Funnnnnnnnny stuff. Nicely done. Just one question, who flashed the wang?

  2. I've already said that I am going to make my kids work fast food jobs to earn money to pay for what they want.

    It was one of the best jobs I ever had.

  3. I agree that everyone should work in a fast food at least once so that people would know how actually tough the job can be!

    I worked full time in a fast food last summer and it can get pretty stressful! And it's funny because I, too got a burn on my arm from a fry basket! Someone bumped into my arm with the basket coming straight out from the fryer! Got a funny-looking burn outta that.. lol

  4. hahaha hilarious. and I totally agree. my part time jobs... I worked at a dry cleaners, a bagel shop, and as a Chili's waitress... taught me everything I'll ever need to know about money and budgeting. Save your money, it's hard to earn.

    It's kind of sad that the number of high school students getting part-time jobs is on the decrease. I feel like the generation will miss out.

    A drunk, middle-aged guy at the bagel shop once held up a bagel and said-- "Will you put cream cheese on this for me?" and then held it in front of his crotch. Luckily, his slightly-more-sober friend pulled him away. What's up with weird older guys?

    The bathroom story is horrific, though. I am so sorry!

  5. Megan...I'm not sure who the sweatpants pervert was...he kind of looked like Barry on the steps (I remember thinking that at the time) but a little tiny bit more with it!

    FB...I'm definitely going to encourage my kids to work too. Not necessarily fast food, but I think they need to spend some time earning some serious dues so they'll appreciate money and the value of a good job later in life!

    Renee...I'm glad I'm not the only one who's clumsy with a fry basket :D

    Sarah...I laughed at the bagel story but I feel your pain :) The bathroom thing was just terrible. SO bad. The person who'd made the mess had obviously not made any attempt to clean it up whatsoever. I'm always so tidy now in public bathrooms, I'll even wipe water drops off the sink counters just because I still have flashbacks to cleaning the washrooms at McD's, I want to try to make it as easy for others as possible!

  6. What a useful post here. Very informative for me..TQ friends...
    stainless steel coffee mug
    (Coffee Mug Online Shop: The Best Coffee Mug Store)