Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's All About the Work

The vagaries of blog hits are interesting. I don't think I've written anything interesting for a week, yet my hits have gone through the roof in the past few days (assuming that SiteMeter is to be believed). I'm not sure what it is that triggers these runs, but they do happen every now and then.

Right now it's all about the work, the busiest time of year in a year that, shall we say, has been somewhat unusual. Things are looking up and going well, but it is probably not a coincidence that, as my mind was wandering the other night, I was thinking about how I felt shortly after I got my first job - at McDonalds.

Back in those days (we're talking the late 1970s), the work force of McDonalds consisted almost entirely of high school kids. The approach to training was somewhat stringent, and not unlike throwing a small kid into the deep end of the pool just to see what would happen - you either sank, or swam. There were a ton of rules - the boys wore white shirts, ties, and those nifty little paper hats, and hair wasn't allowed to touch the ears. Don't even think about being late, and do what you're told. And if you didn't do it well, you could expect a manager to point it out, and usually in a way that was not very polite.

And, funny though it may seem now, it was hard work. If you were on the grill, you worked one of three stations - meat, which meant that you slapped the patties on the grill, turned them, made sure they were done correctly, and then slapped them on the dressed bun. Buns, which meant you were responsible for toasting (excuse me, carmelizing) the buns. Trust me, it was harder than it sounds. And dressing, which means you got to whip all of those condiments on those buns, while at the same time watching those filet of fish and apple pies. Timing was everything, and it only took one bad cog in the machine to throw the whole damn thing off.

When I was trained, they really didn't spend enough time on training (something I tried hard to change when I became the training coordinator for the grillmen after a year on the job). So it was pretty much guaranteed that you were going to screw something up, and you either picked yourself up off the floor and learned how to do it, or you were out of there. No in-between.

Let me tell you, I hated that job for the first three months. To the point where I would lie awake at night before a morning shift and hope that the whole building was going to burn down before the alarm went off in the morning. Really.

And then, all of a sudden, one day at work I realized that I knew what the hell I was doing. I stopped being nervous, and I actually started to make some friends. Some of whom are still friends today, more than 30 years later.

So what's the point of all this? I'm not sure, but it felt good to write it down.

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