My first job ever was at Dairy Queen, close to where I lived. I could walk there and back, and at 16 years old I hadn’t found any luck anywhere else. Generally, my duties included taking orders at the front, making ice cream treats and making milk shakes. It wasn’t that hard of a job, but the management were always yelling at me. The store owner and manager wasn’t a very nice person. Although he seemed alright at first, he turned out to be a belittling bully. I guess working at DQ wasn’t his dream career either.
At DQ, no one explained to me that there was a system at the back counter where 2 lines of food were for in-store orders and the other two lines were for drive through orders. I messed that up once. When I mentioned I hadn’t been told which lines were for in-store or drive through, I was sent to the back to restock supplies.
Also, no one explained to me how the cash register worked. I tried my best to intuitively figure it out, but it takes time to learn a system like that. I didn’t figure out the system fast enough for the owner’s liking. However, I was good at making the ice cream treats, keeping everything clean and keeping myself busy. But I still remember a few embarrassing times when the milk shake machine exploded all over me and the other gurls working there just laughed.
Even though I was promised 1 or 2 4-hour shifts per week, I never received those shifts. I trained for more than the required 3 months on 3 hour shifts once a week. Often the owner would say he didn’t need me and send me home. I didn’t the chance to prove myself at my job because I was barely working 3 hours a week and would forget exactly how things such as the cash register worked or how ice cream treats were supposed to be made. It was barely worth it for me to walk to work most shifts.
Not to mention I spent most of the time in the back of the DQ doing dishes. Dishes were supposed to be done when you had free time. No one thought I was reliable up front, so I was sent to do dishes most of the time. The only good thing about working in the back was talking with the wonderful woman who iced the DQ cakes. She was a kind, older Chinese woman who said that it wasn’t right that the manager only had me on 3 hour shifts a week and that I was in the back doing dishes all the time. She told me I was too pretty to be working at DQ. She made me feel good because I never felt valued working there; I felt like no one cared to teach me properly so I could never do a great job. Going to work was painful.
Worst of all, I couldn’t make any friends at DQ. One day the manager pulled me aside and told me I had to make a little more effort to talk to the other girls working there. He said the other gurls had said I was unfriendly and he agreed. I had been so excited about making new friends and then was put on the day shift with some of the 20-something workers. These were people who couldn’t work anywhere else because they hadn’t finished high school and were bitter and unapproachable. If you tried to make conversation with them, they would say they had to get back to work or tell you to do the same.
The owner didn’t believe I was trying to develop working relationships with other employees or that they weren’t being friendly to me. I barely lasted 4 months there before I quit. To this day, I hate that DQ. For years I wouldn’t even eat there because I knew that owner still managed it. I did, however, learn a few things from my horrible experience.
Looking back, I’m glad I listened to what my friend who iced the cakes told me; I had the ability to work for better places than DQ. I needed to find a better job where I could fit in, use my talents appropriately and be allowed to learn and make mistakes. All I really needed from that summer job was some experience for my résumé, which got me a job working as a summer secretary. Bad experiences are just that, bad experiences. You live through them and move past them, simple as that!
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