The past few days I have been thinking about the jobs that have shaped my professional career and contemplating the benefits of those early jobs before I knew where life would take me. In those days I was convinced that I was going to be a world-renowned psychologist working overseas for a Fortune 500 company while wowing everyone with my fantastic French. Now, more than 15 years later, I am a freelance consultant, copywriter, community development advisor, and world traveler with abysmal French skills.
I’m left wondering how much of an impression did those after-school jobs leave on me? Like many high school students, my first job was as a cashier for the local hamburger joint. My memories include
1. The terrible, ill-fitting uniform. I literally had to pin my pants closed with a safety pin because they would not let me buy my own pants that fit. Or had buttons. Not to mention a visor is never a cool or ironic fashion accessory no matter what Nike tells you.
2. Never being able to wash away the pervasive smell of grease. I’m pretty sure grease oozed from my pores and made me smell like a walking hamburger. While this sounds as though it would make a great fragrance, let me assure you, it does not. Unless you’re trying to attract dogs. Then have at it; dogs will hump your leg for the smell of hamburgers and day-old french fries.
3. Shouting into the crackling static of the drive-thru headset. “What? What do you want? A milkshake? No? Sorry, what’s that? An apple pie? Oh, a burger and fries. Your order will be 4.57 with tax. Please drive forward.”
4. Gritting my teeth and smiling at the drunk guys who inevitably would come through the drive thru around midnight and tell me what pretty eyes I have. Obviously he didn’t get any action at the club and thought he’d try his luck at the drive-thru. Right.
The job lasted approximately three months before I could no longer take it. I left the job despite the enticement of pocket money in order to maintain what little dignity I had left. I’d like to say that this job provided me valuable insight into the working world and pushed me towards my current career. However, the only thing that I can say with all honesty is that I was so terrified of working at a drive-thru for the rest of my life that I put more effort into my schoolwork and promised myself that I would do whatever it took to get into a good college and never look back.
What was your first job? Did you end up with any valuable insights or terrifying stories that haunt you until this day?