Julie Berogan, April 7, 2014
I agree, working at McDonald’s or any other fast food joint isn’t the greatest work experience nor what one strives to make into a career, unless you’re SpongeBob Squarepants; but it’s not bad. My introverted 19 year old son, a full-time student at PPCC and sponge-like at times, works part time at one of the local Golden Arch franchises. Although the work is robotic and menial, a mindless assembly line, he’s learned a lot of life lessons this past year of his employment. Often times the lessons learned are what not to do.
Working at McDonalds is his first job. Not bad, for a first job. He applied to several fast food restaurants when seeking employment and McDonalds responded first to the outcry for minimum wage ennui. Perceiving the J.O.B. for what it is, a way to stay Just Over Broke, and put some gas in your tank so you can make it to classes, he donned the red shirt and began his adventure.
Many of his co-workers are his age and according to him are surprisingly lazier than himself, trying to do as little as possible and looking for more ways to avoid work, looking busy, rather than doing actual work. I find it somewhat satisfying as a parent when life comes full circle and your child gets to see the world through a more mature set of eyes. Some of the people my son works with are career fast foodies and have no desire to do anything else. These Squidwards, who have worked everywhere from Pizza Pie Hole, Weenie Hut, to Taco Sombrero, also say McDonalds isn’t bad, in comparison. I’m grateful for these individuals who motivate my son to want more than a room in his parents’ basement and a high score on Call of Duty when he’s over thirty. Sadly, some of the employees are former high school classmates that have given up on pursuing a degree and drop out of college to work more and get less. Less out of life ultimately. My son recognizes the lies they tell themselves to make it okay like, “I’m taking a semester off to save money,” knowing most will join the lifetime foodies and never return to college.
His job does come with a couple “perks”: all the free soda you can drink while on the clock, and a meal valued at no more than three dollars for a shift of five or more hours. Amped up on the free sodas he’s sucking down during his shift, he safely returns home and downloads the day’s happenings in fast food hades. I suspect the caffeine plays a part in the overly dramatic, fully animated retellings which usually involve some moral digression he observed or experienced during his shift. Always humorous and entertaining, often they lead to a life lesson. Reminds me of SpongeBob episodes.
The Krusty Krabb is the epitome of every minimum wage fast food restaurant job. You have a crabby boss that’s always stressed out and red in the face. Your co- workers with seniority are out for themselves and looking for any opportunity to make themselves look better by making you look bad. Unlike Mr. Squarepants who sees his work as the best job ever, and happily prepares the krabby patties, most fast food employees aren’t exuberant or striving to attain the golden spatula. In fact, they don’t even want to be there. Watching the clock becomes an activity. The minutes melt away like the grease on the patties. Attitudes reflect that minimum wage loosely translates to minimum effort.
At my son’s store, being a good robot and filling the orders in under a minute, 45 seconds to be exact, on a consistent basis merits a shirt promotion. This shirt promotion comes with more responsibility, more stress, longer hours, and a whopping twelve whole cents more per hour. This measly twelve cent raise that comes with a title of seeming importance isn’t even enough to pay the bills. Experience has shown my son that for some this is just enough to drop out of school and join the chronically miserable and stuck.
McDonalds isn’t bad. In fact, it’s good for us. It has provided an opportunity for our son to come out of his shell and practice his work relation skills in a hostile environment. It’s fast paced and you learn quickly or get burned, like most work environments regardless of pay or title. It has been a dose of reality and a reason for him to stay in school and get good grades. I’m Lovin’ It!