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First Job Fantasies

How I learned the truth about working the hard way

Photo by Madi Mckeever

Kayley Anderson, News/Feature Editor

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Disclaimer: names, including the name of the business, and locations have been changed. 

It was around mid-July when I decided I needed to get a job before I ran myself so far into parental debt I’d be paying them back until my mid-twenties. After weeks of careful searching, I ended up at Taco Ranch, which in hindsight should’ve been an indicator that I wasn’t searching hard enough.

When I first started my job, I was on top of the world. Everyone was overly-friendly and they never made me do anything more than the bare minimum. They even gave me a balloon and a free cupcake when I finished my training. If ignorance is really bliss, I was drowning in it, preaching my love for Taco Ranch on every corner.

However it wasn’t long before the harsh reality of working in the fast food industry really hit me. It came on a Tuesday when I glanced at the schedule and found, much to my surprise, that I was scheduled for 39 and a half hours, a far cry from my 25 hour limit.

The worst part of these shifts was that most of them surpassed six hours, and ended past midnight. Not only was I stuck standing in a drive-through, but also washing dishes for hours on end, getting myself soaking wet in the process, only to drop the food I was having to serve because of the amount of repulsive food waste and suds covering my entire body.

The worst part was sweeping the floor, which I could never keep clean for more than about three seconds. My absolute favorite part was when, in the middle of the hottest week of the summer, the air conditioner blew and wasn’t fixed for several days. The fabulous thing about being in a kitchen is that it’s already a million degrees, and having no air conditioner created multiple sweaty, gross people handling food, which doesn’t sound all that appetizing to me, but you know, everyone has their own likes and dislikes.

However, the real problem began when the air conditioner was fixed and the place turned into an Arctic tundra because obviously when you renovate a place you have to make sure to break every possible thing you can, including the air return vents. We rectified this problem by standing by the quesadilla grills and shouting at our manager to turn the dang heat up.

The renovations also forced us to walk outside to use the restroom, which unfortunately was not well thought out, considering the door locked behind us when we left. Once after ten minutes of banging on the front and back doors I was forced to walk through the drive thru and climb back in the window to continue work.

Despite the environment being slightly less than par, my coworkers were some of the most interesting people I have ever encountered. One woman I worked with would only do anything if that let her blare heavy rap music in the kitchen which was loud enough to be heard in the lobby and earned us a few strange looks.

Another man I worked with was so picky about pronunciation that he would correct any customer who said anything even a little wrong. The awkwardness that followed his corrections was enough to make me want to down a bottle of hot sauce and run for the door. My favorite coworker was another teenager who worked ten hour shifts every Sunday and was always looking for someone to pick her up after work because it was too hot to walk home.

I attempted to quit my job a record four times without any success. Due to the fact that every time I tried to they didn’t seem to get the hint that I was considering leaving, it took a few tries. I once didn’t show up for two weeks and returned one day to find my name still written on the schedule and a “we’re so glad you’re back!” free meal (highly unusual for regular employees).

Another time, I called and told them I wasn’t coming back. Ten minutes later, I found myself only working twice a week, which lasted for about a week before they slapped my name on four. Then they tried to tell me I was scheduled for 20 hours during the school year, and that’s when I knew I had to leave before matters got even worse.

The problem was, I couldn’t seem to quit. No excuse or problem could get me out of that place until I finally had a friend call and quit for me to avoid any possible guilt trips that might follow.

Overall, my experiences working at Taco Ranch were pretty memorable. The people I met there were all genuine, down-to-earth people who I hope are still doing well. The one thing I can take away from this is the value of what we buy. A new shirt could be three hours of work, or dinner could be one and a half.

 No matter how much I may have learned, I can safely say Taco Ranch is not the job for me.


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