Maggie, A’Dell and Jennifer have posted about their first jobs semi-recently, so I thought I’d dust off this here blog and join in. I’ll have to spread it out over a couple of posts, because I am nothing if not verbose.
I got my first job the summer after I graduated junior high, at Taco Time. I applied there because, for whatever reason, they could hire kids if they were within six months of their 16th birthday. I was actually a few months shy of my 15th, but I didn’t see any reason they needed to know that at the time, and it’s tough for employers to check when they don’t require a drivers’ license. They figured it out later in the year, of course, when I never so much as mentioned taking drivers’ ed or getting my license, much less drove myself to work. (Fun fact: I didn’t have a Social Security number when I applied for the job. When I got hired, my mom and I had to go down to the SS office, which might actually surpass the DMV in suckitude. I can’t imagine where I learned to procrastinate!) I even remember what I wore to the interview: red shorts and a red-and-white striped short sleeve shirt, tucked in.
I liked the job well enough. I was great with the customers, and surprised myself by being good at running the drive-through window. That’s what I was doing, in fact, when I met my first high school boyfriend. He was hitting up the drive-through in between Hell Week football practices. He pulled up to the window, and I think I froze in place for several seconds. He was literally (LITRALLY*) tall, dark, and handsome, with an adorable smile. To my delight, it turned out he was taking advantage of his employee discount! We got to work together for a little while, until management caught us flirting across the fryers. After that, they kept us on separate shifts whenever possible.
He was a junior, I was a sophomore; our first official date was the Homecoming dance in September, and I was deep in puppy love. I should really try to find the photo from that first dance, because that ish is FUNNY. We lasted until mid-January, when he showed up drunk to a stomp (does anyone outside of Utah recognize that word?), and I ratted him out to his younger sister, who was one of my close friends. He dumped me, and to say I was devastated is stating it mildly. I believe he quit Taco Time shortly thereafter, which was really a lucky break for me. I stayed on, though it was often difficult to juggle my AP and honors classes, j.v. cheerleading, a social life, and a job. (There’s no humble in that brag, I know. It’s just the way it was then, and I look back and think, WHO WAS I, and could I possibly travel back in time to siphon some of that energy?) My co-workers were fun, aside from the owner, who was a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-type blend of sweetness and light/stress rage. She scared me. Most of the people I worked with were only a few years older than I at most, though, and quite a few went to my school. We chatted and joked. Friends came in to see us. We cranked up the stereo and had the occasional food fight after the store closed. There were some fun times.
I was not destined to be a shining star in the Taco Time firmament, however. I never really made it off the order counter/drive-through. The food prep line required more speed than I could muster, and for that matter, so did the closing shift. The workers on the closing shift had to scrub EVERYTHING down, including the line, the fryers and hood, and aaaaaallll the dishes. My god, The Dishes. I have hated doing dishes my entire life, so it was something akin to torture every time I was assigned to them. The idea was to try to keep up with them all along the way, but by closing time, dishes got Real. I ended up sweaty and soaking every single time, and I was never, ever fast enough with them. Also, the water was juuuust about the temperature of the surface of the sun, so I got burned pretty frequently, too. I eventually got booted from the closing shifts, which was actually fine with me. Closing shift meant not getting home until midnight or later, and school started at 7:20, so it was pretty brutal.
My dad made me quit at the beginning of my junior year, so I could concentrate on school and prepping for college admission applications. By that time, I was not sorry to say goodbye to the uniform, which invariably smelled of grease by the end of a shift (so did my hair), nor to fast food in general. I did miss the free mexi-fries, though.
Up Next: I get a crash course in working retail during Christmas – and meet another boyfriend.
* Kudos to Rob Lowe for dragging “literally” from the abyss of overuse, and making it Funny.
P.S. I have to give a shout-out to a very sweet Internet Friend who encouraged me to keep writing here. I’ll never forget her for it.