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Who Would Have Thought?

When I was 16 years old my first real job was working at a fast food place called Gino’s.  Even though I only worked there for about 6 months it was the experience of a lifetime for me.  I finally had my own money to spend on whatever I wanted.   It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized why it was such an experience.

Not only was I collecting that weekly paycheck, I was also learning many of life’s lessons.  I learned to be responsible by having to be somewhere at a certain time, having to do what was expected of me, and accepting responsibility for my actions.   I grew from being an awkward teenager to a semi mature young adult in the short period of time that I worked there.

The biggest thing that I learned while working there was social skills.  I had to get along with other people whether I wanted to or not.   It was not like having a fight with one of my brothers where I could go lock myself in my room for a while.  If I was mad at someone at work I had to just suck it up and do my job.  I was fortunate that the people who I worked with were all good people wanting to do their best at their jobs and it was a rare occasion when we did not get along.

This job is where I found my best friend who I still keep in touch with to this day.   Wanda was not just the girl who sat across the room in choir;   she was someone I had to work with daily.  During the 6 months that we worked together we developed a strong bond and we were able to talk about any thing with each other.

Fast forward 32 years later and I find my life is very similar.  I currently live over 500 miles from where I grew up and have been working as a manager at my local McDonald’s for the past 6 years.  I have had the same experiences here as at my first job 32 years ago.  My best friend Sarah works with me and I have also developed a few good friendships with the people who work here.

There is a bonus working here.  I work with a lot of teenagers who remind me of who I was 32 years ago.  I have watched most of them grow from awkward teenagers to very confident young men and women.  I feel blessed to be able to have an influence on them during this crazy period of their life.  Most of them have graduated from High School and went on to College.  Some of them went on to bigger and better things at other places.  Several have graduated from college and two have recently gotten married.  I had the honor of being a guest at their wedding a few weeks ago.  I consider all of them my kids even though I only have them for a short period of time.  I feel proud when one of them achieves something good in their lives and honored when they invite me to the events that are important to them.  I feel sad and happy at the same time.  I don’t know if parents feel this way, but I have a suspicion that they do.

I plan on retiring from here in 20 or so years and owe it to the experience of my first job at Gino’s 32 years ago for wanting to stay here.  Who would have thought that I would be doing the same kind of work today as I did 32 years ago?  There is nothing like the experience of a first job, NOTHING

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  1. August 5, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Another great piece of writing, Patrick! – wow, your first job had a big impact on you!!!

    My first jobs were babysitting. Hmm, what did I learn …? Well, alot of people had trouble getting a babysitter on Friday and Saturday nights, because “all teenagers like to go out”. So did I, but how far could I go without money?! I was more than willing to babysit on those nights and work my life after I got done with work – which made me VERY in-demand!

    Funny story: A regular Friday night sit was for 2 year old Frankie up the street – his parents worked opposite shifts ; while Dad was usually home at night, he wanted to join a Friday night bowling league … sure, ok. He knew me as the mousy girl from down the block who loved to play with the baby and – while I may have eaten my way through the fridge! – I didn’t have guests and I didn’t make any sort of mess … so, a few weeks, maybe a month, after I started babysitting, I had arranged with my friends to pick me up there – by this point, I knew pretty much when he would be home … and … he comes running in the back door, his eyes in big O’s, and says, “Jeannee! We might have to call the cops! There are about half a dozen, maybe more!, wild teenagers outside – they’re hanging out the windows of this old car, and I think they have bottles of alcohol with them, and they might be smoking pot, and they’re screaming! and blasting that rock music!” I smiled and said casually, “Oh, ok – those are my friends.” He almost didn’t want to let me out there, to a group of ‘hooligans’, I think he might have said 😉

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