If you want to appreciate the personal diversity in your community, get a job working with people. If you want to appreciate the economic diversity in your community, get a job at a fast food joint. Everyone can afford it, and everyone needs to eat to survive. We all need food that’s good for the body, but we need food that’s good for the soul as well, and you’ll get people looking for soul food coming through all day long.
I got hired at a local fast food restaurant back in April, and I was terrified. Both because it was my first job and I had no idea what to expect, and because I was throwing myself into a completely new situation with completely new people and I had no idea what to expect. I am now four months in and have become entirely comfortable with the majority of people I’m working with on a day-to-day basis, which is phenomenal in the high-stress situations that avoiding the hellish beepbeepbEEP of the ‘you were close but not close enough’ drive-through timer creates.
I was blessed with a fascination of people, and my job supplements me with-dare I say-subjects of study. (If you’re a coworker reading this, trust me, that’s not all that you’ve been reduced to; scout’s honor. I’m cataloguing thought processes, if that is any added comfort; but it’s probably not.) I’ve noticed little idiosyncrasies and catchphrases that everyone else has undoubtedly become accustomed to, but I’m so curious as to why and how everyone’s turned out how they have and how we function together. Surely it isn’t just because we have to. I can honestly say there isn’t anyone I simply put up with because I must.
In order to make more sense of these little idiosyncrasies to see how people were structured as individuals, I constructed a list to try and group those with similar outward interests and behaviors/habits together. While, yes, those with like habits did seem to orbit each others’ paths more often than not, proximity of age did not affect the strength of these ties, and some personal alliances that have formed have been such friendships I would never piece together if I was asked to. Sharing similar moral codes within some relationships obviously has left them stronger than others, but there’s a cohesive, “Okay, whatever, man.” attitude between those whose views and behaviors differ. I would call it a maturity thing, but… I think it may have to do with dealing with the high-stress environment together. Like a sports team. A sports team that hands our playing pieces to people who aren’t even a part of the game and never see the playing pieces again because they are ingested.
Speaking of the people who aren’t even a part of the game, they’re a lovely experience themselves. My favorite task is probably cashing out customers at the drive through or handling the orders of those in the lobby later at night or in the morning because I can actually speak to them. Yes, we can’t hold oscar-worthy dialogues at the window because of that obscenely bothersome timer, but you learn a lot about the people coming through; especially if they’re regulars. One woman remembered me after a two-week stretch without serving her because I had spoken to her about a picnic I was scheduled to attend later that day. Another woman is on first-name basis with basically everyone who has worked three or more months at the store. Yet another woman comes through nearly every day and orders the same two sides for her dog, and whenever someone recognizes her order, it is announced that the dog has arrived and those who aren’t otherwise occupied run over to say hi. We’re basically a fan group for her dog, honestly.
On an off note, if you are the kind of person who brings your dog to the drive through, thank you. You are a blessing to all humankind who happens to be employed at a fast-food restaurant. We love your dogs. I love your dogs. Please bring your dogs. They brighten our day.
To further illustrate to which excess that I believe your dogs are gifts from God, I was working a morning shift a few weeks back, and a family came through with what we became informed was a seven-month old Great Dane. Due to the size of their order, it allowed me a bunch of time to speak to them and get riled up over their dog to the point where I could. Not. Stop. Smiling. Now, I’m the sort of person who will laugh until they cry, and, as I learned that day, smiling is no different. Long story short, I was called out on crying over a dog and I am easily impressed to the previously mentioned severity.
But I digress. People who share tidbits of their lives with me-parts of who they are and pieces of their personality-who come through the drive are the reason I don’t hate my first job like every adult has told me I would.
As you can probably predict, drive through area is where I usually spend the better part of my shift. When I am occasionally assigned the lobby area, however, I once again am allowed to speak to those that come in. During rushes, conversation isn’t easily attainable… but if you catch an early morning shift or something between the majority of the population’s dinner and the late-working crowd’s night snack, some really peppy teenagers, seniors who probably party harder than my peers, and other interesting characters find their way in. The stories I have been curious enough to ask about. Good heavens. So many sports teams.
And the regulars.
I want to hire most of them, honestly-but I am but a brick on the bottom foundation of the pyramid as it is currently, and do not have the power to create the personality powerhouse I desire. Once again, those who come into the lobby are easier to converse with and therefore recognize, especially since we have memorized most of their names, whereas if someone comes through drive, we don’t have the chance to catch onto those sorts of things. It’s more of a personal interaction, and you can attach a face to a name and their-here comes the word-idiosyncrasies. I’m probably a bit obsessed.
Overall, the moral of the story is people are great and dogs are living fluffballs with floppy ears and tongues. That, and the fact that even if you think I don’t like you, I probably find you fascinating.