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My First Time: On The Job
Working at McDonald’s and not lovin’ it
Diamonique Perry
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One Monday afternoon I stopped into a McDonald’s near my old internship to grab something to eat. I got great service; my food was ready in five minutes. The cashiers were smiling and looked happy to work there. I had never had a job before. All I thought I was interested in was getting a paycheck, but this place also looked like it would be a nice place to work.

I asked for the head manager and she came out right away and greeted me. I asked if they were hiring, and she told me to come in on Wednesday at 4 p.m. for an interview. At that moment a butterfly was flying around my stomach. I was excited because, except for my internship at YCteen, I had never been on a job interview.

I went home and told my mother. She was happy for me. I couldn’t eat. That’s how excited and anxious I was. Two days later I had my interview. I made sure that I was an hour early and dressed appropriately. I had on a white button-down blouse, black dress pants, and black low heels.

I waited for two hours. I didn’t care though; all I wanted to do was get hired so I could make my own money.

When I was finally called, I had to walk through the kitchen to the basement office. I could smell the French fries. I saw Hispanic, black, Jamaican, and white people working and it made me feel comfortable that there was a mixed ethnic staff. I thought to myself, “I really hope I get this job.”

The hiring manager, Dave, was short and looked like he was in his 40s. He asked, “Why do you want to work at McDonald’s?”

“Every time I come here and get my food, it comes within two minutes, the cashiers are always smiling and look happy to work here and they’re polite,” I said.

After a few more questions, it was over. I walked out slowly because I was so nervous. I was worried that I had talked too much.

Learning the Ropes

Dave called me a week later to tell me I was hired and told me to come in for orientation. I was screaming and jumping up and down. My first job!

The orientation was different than what I’d expected. I thought I’d be with a group of other new employees and we’d have to watch a movie, but it was nothing like that. I was the only one there and all I had to do was fill out papers to get on the payroll and pick up my uniform.

image by YC-Art Dept

The first two weeks went smoothly. I remember my first customer. He was short, black, and wore glasses. As he walked in I said, “Hi. Welcome to McDonald’s. How may I help you?”

He said, “I would like a Number One with an apple pie and to take you out on a date when you get off work.”

That made my day. I thought he was the cutest. Too bad he looked like he was about 13 years old.

In my third week, I started to notice that the manager was disrespectful to everyone. If the manager thought I was being slow, he’d say, “Diamonique do you want to stay here? Because at the speed that you’re going it doesn’t look like it. Can you go any f-cking faster?”

In fact, he would frequently curse at me and the other cashiers in front of customers. One mom with two young sons and a daughter said to me, “You guys should be more professional or else you’ll lose good customers.” I wanted to quit, but I needed money.

Controlling My Anger

I reminded myself that the job wasn’t all bad. For instance, on the night of the Gay Pride Parade our store was packed; the lines trailed outside. Dave asked me to cover two registers at once. I said I would do it, although I wasn’t sure I could handle all of that responsibility. On one register I was told to take only credit or debit and on the other, only cash. On each register I took two customers at a time; four simultaneously. I had to give customers proper change and keep the orders straight. I kept this up for eight hours. I didn’t make any mistakes. The manager was thrilled with me and I was proud of myself. That night boosted my confidence. Now I feel like I can accomplish anything.

Still, the majority of the time, we were treated poorly. One afternoon I went in to work a shift from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Someone had quit that day and Dave asked me to stay until 1 a.m. He was nastier than usual and yelling a lot at all of us. I was taking two orders in and two orders out, just like store policy, but he still came over and yelled, “Can you go any faster, dummy?” I ignored him. The he wanted me to move off register and clean up. I explained that I had never cleaned up before closing and I didn’t know where things went and he called me a “f-cking stupid b-tch.”

I felt so heated and humiliated that he spoke to me like that in front of customers. I wanted to hit him so badly, but I knew it wasn’t worth getting arrested for. I knew the better thing to do would be to remove myself from this situation—permanently. So I just said, “I quit.”

He stayed quiet. I went downstairs to take off my uniform and get my belongings out of the locker. I didn’t just walk out. I came back upstairs to turn in my register drawer. Dave said that my drawer was $8 short, which I knew it wasn’t. Rather than argue with him, I just handed him a $10 bill. “Keep the two extra dollars. Don’t worry about it,” I said.

I only worked at McDonald’s for two months. I’m looking for another job now. Even though this first job didn’t go well, I learned that I can work in a fast-paced environment, multi-task well, and I’m good with customers. But most importantly I learned that I can control my anger successfully. This makes me happy because the old me would have burst open like a balloon. My temper has landed me in trouble a couple of times, and I didn’t let it happen again even though I was provoked. I’m proud of myself for knowing when to leave a bad situation before I do something I regret. I hope to find a job where I’m treated professionally, with respect.

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(NYC-2015-01-17)

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