- McJobs and Workers -
Everything I needed to Know in Life (almost) I learned at McDonalds
I was a spoiled, overprotected, unrealistically idealistic product of the 60's mentality when I went to work for McDonalds in 1974 at the age of 16 for $1.60 an hour. When I quit 1 1/2 years later to go to college, I felt I had really learned a lot more from this job than from 4 years of high school (actually fulltime opening shift work was what I did instead of wasting my last semester in school after I had all my credits). I learned about: the much less fortunate people who were my coworkers and how they lived and how lucky I really was; how a successful business is run, with attention to every detail, especially things like portion size and labor scheduling; how to use a broom and mop and clean a toilet; what I didn't want to spend the rest of my life doing; what really hard work is like; how to meet the public and be polite to rude, impatient people. I got real muscles from carrying 25-30 lb. boxes of patties and fries 2-3 at a time up a long flight of stairs. And it was good money during a recession in a college town where teens had to compete w/ 40,000 college students for part-time work (and I wasn't trying to support a family on it). So I have always felt fast food jobs are vastly underrated as a first work opportunity for young people. Now I'm a labor lawyer representing employers, and the fact I actually worked that kind of a job gives me a perspective I never would have gotten from my formal education. And most of the kids I see working at McDonalds these days are hardly being treated like slaves -- they all act like they need a good kick in the ass to get them to hustle a little once in a while.