"If you can work here, you can work anywhere."
I stood there, overwhelmed by the pacing, by the constant beeping, by the heat. After the second day, I fell sick. I gave up. I didn't show up for weeks. I wasn't ready.
After a couple of weeks, my manager called me and asked where I'd been. I told her I was sick. She told me to get some rest and that I was scheduled for the next week. Maybe this whole thing just wasn't for me. But it was a job, and it was my job.
A year later, on a Sunday night, an hour before closing, as we enjoyed the peaceful idle time, an order appears on the screen. Seventy cheeseburgers. It was just three of us in the kitchen. We were all in a state of shock and confusion. Surely this was a mistake. "It's for a film crew," my manager yells out from the counter.
"Check the meat!" I exclaimed.
"Drop the buns!" another yelled.
I paused to strategize.
"Hey, switch with me, take the buns," I said.
"You, at the end."
"I'll take over the grill!"
It was showtime. 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2, push the green buttons to lower the grill. 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2, push. 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2, push. 24 patties which'll be ready in a couple of seconds. Beep! Beep! The clam rises. I wield the spatula. Season, stack, stack, stack, tray. Season, stack, stack, stack, tray.
After a couple of trays, I wash my hands and hop back onto the line. Buns were flowing from my right. Squirt, squirt, garnish, pass. Squirt, squirt, garnish, pass.
In about twenty minutes or so, the battle was over. We had won. We had made seventy cheeseburgers. We had put smiles on the faces of a film crew. Whatever they were filming, I sure hope they made something great.
I experienced it all. I once went full Neo and dodged a chicken sandwich thrown at me because we had missed a tomato on the order. I lifted endless heavy boxes of fries and beef patties. I worked overnights where I'd often get disrespectful customers who were hangry after a night partying.
There was this one time where group of ladies drove through at 2 am in the morning for coffee. "How do you like your coffee?" I ask through the headset. "We like our coffee how we like our men!" one of them said rhetorically. "Regular?" I replied. They laugh. And the order proceeds. Maybe I should've went with "double-double," instead.
I worked at that place for three years during my highschool and university years. I started as a crew member, and left as a manager. Many relationships were formed there--mentors, mentees, and most importantly, friends.
The place had taught me a ton of valuable lessons but here're my key takeaways:
- 🏀 Teamwork makes the dream work
- 🧹 If there's time to lean, there's time to clean
- 🍔 Persistence will make seventy cheeseburgers
A manager once told me, "if you can work here, you can work anywhere." Cathy, if you're reading this, you were right. So thank you.
I've since become a Creative at Apple, a Software Developer at a startup, and a Team Lead at my last job at an amazing people-first software company. Speaking of which, after the first year working at my last company, our team had won the Team of the Year award. We were one of the most impactful teams within the organization. We were innovative and we shipped great work. I now realize it's because the team was composed of a buncha' scrappers. The type of humble people that worked the nitty-gritty jobs--burger chains, pizza joints, restaurants, office supplies stores, farms, you name it. Now, I'm working on my own startup, and one day, I, too, will be looking for a team of scrappers.
When I was looking for my second software job back in 2017, I remember a recruiter telling me before ending our conversation, "just a tip: remove Mc***ds (name redacted 😉) from your resume and your LinkedIn." I was confused. It was an experience. And I was proud of it. So, no, recruiter, I will not remove it. People will see it, and when they see it, they will understand my work ethic because of where I came from. And if they don't understand that, then it's their loss. I had a job, and it was my job. And it redefined me. And that's what experience is.
💵 Balance: $20,594 (Raptors tickets got refunded 😅)