As a teenager, I resolved I wasn't going to take a burger-flipping job as I could help it. When I was 15, I tried for gig at a call center in Raytown. A girl in one of my classes got a job at that age. I didn't.
The next year, I ended up with a sacking job at the local Food Barn, now called the Apple Market:
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One year later, before heading off to Boys' State, I thought I had a job lined up at the Burger King down the road. Okay, it was a burger-flipping job, but my mind discerned it from the Golden Arches. I also didn't want to see any more of my hard-earned pay siphoned off by dues for a union that protected the jerks and discouraged the dutiful.
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The interview gave me more insight than I expected as the assistant manager set the ground rules.
"If you make any racial jokes, you're out the door," she said, going down a list of terminable offenses. "I know three people who are out the door right now. One of them is stealing from me."
I gave her my work ethic: I'm dependable, I'm reliable, and I can prove it.
"Sounds like you got your head on straight." She gave me a start date and a BK polo shirt with pants. The start date came around, and I came in to start my first day. Another manager greeted me behind the counter.
"Here's the deal," he said. "This store is being bought back by the company. So be here next Monday, when we're having a meeting to go over it. You'll go through all the paperwork you've done up to now. That's it. Have a soda on me on the way out!"
"Can I draw it?" I asked.
I ambled up to the post-mix machine and poured a Coke with too much ice and not enough cola.
Next Monday's meeting drew out the gang of cooks and counter jockeys to the plastic dining-room tables, as a Burger King corporate manager explained what was going on.
"I'm so glad the company is buying it back," a woman next to me sighed as she listed to the spiel. I penned through the applications and attachments once more. And then I asked, when's my real start date?
"Uh, we're not sure," the manager said. "Give us a call next week." I was off to Boys' State and a little nervous. But I took him at his word.
When I got back, I followed up with the phone call.
"Why don't you come in on Monday at 2?"
I put on my uniform, and Mom drove me to work. When we rolled into the parking lot, the alarm bells started going off. A sign on the door said "Closed For Remodeling."
Corporate hadn't just bought it back, they'd cut their losses. I could've spit venom. The bosses left me hanging, and I had no recourse except to call some regional office and complain about what happened. Whoever was on the other end of the line didn't know what was going on. I never even got an apology. Three weeks of applying and patience proved fruitless, and I wanted to burn that BK polo.
A couple of weeks later, I found another job... at McDonald's.