The Golden Arches

One lesson my parents didn’t have to teach me was about saving money.  I earned a weekly allowance of $5 for either shoveling out our driveway or navigating our 100 lb Briggs & Stratton lawn tank up and around the forested hill that doubled as our yard .  While that may not seem like a lot of money, the reality of my high school years is that I didn’t have many expenses.   Friends of mine had these things called dates involving these persons called girls a non-issue for me.  You see, in addition to my paltry physique I had such appealing accouterments as coke bottle thick glasses, an overbite and buck teeth.   Regardless, a rare bit of youthful foolishness resulted in the loss of my only source of funding and I had to look for a real job.

I had friends who worked at the local McDonalds franchise and they tore off a sheet from the application pad and encouraged me to sign up.  I was hired without an interview and my training consisted of watching a single short video.   I was handed a polyester uniform and sent to work wiping tables and mopping the floor.  My first boss was Doug Cunningham.  He prided himself on being strict but fair and was especially proud of landing a role as an uncredited extra in the TV movie Amerika.    It was his job to dole out the tasks to the army of minimum wage drones that worked there and to enforce the rules like calling Egg McMuffins by their proper name instead of the colloquial ‘Eggers’.  The shifts were only three and a half hours, the maximum allowed by law without a paid break, and they went by quickly.  I enjoyed working in fact the only thing I grew to dread was the long bike ride home each night and this was likely due to jealousy because my sisters always got rides from my parents.

Months past without incident and when it came time to do my appraisal it wasn’t done by Doug but rather a lady who worked in the office.  I was put on 30 days notice for reasons that never became clear and let go at the end of the month.  The official reason on my Record of Employment was ‘incompetence’ however when my father called back for conformation they just told him I ‘didn’t fit in’.  I’m not afraid to admit my mistakes but I honestly don’t recall any personal conflicts with my supervisors or co-workers or any egregious errors in judgment.  I remember that I once I slipped and spilled entire bag of shake mix, but I don’t think that was it.  The franchise where I worked had a lot of employees, all doing similar jobs simultaneously.  I wasn’t the only one let go and a lot of my friends who worked for other fast food franchises had parallel experiences.  The one common theme was that we were expunged shortly before our 18th birthdays when by law we were mandated a raise from $2.35 an hour all the way up to $3.50 an hour.  This seems beyond belief except for the fact that when we took  a shift from a friend and thus would work more than four consecutive hours we were required to punch out for an unpaid 15 minute break.  This amounted to a savings to the world’s wealthiest restaurant chain of less than fifty-nine cents.  I knew all about saving money.


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