It was the summer of 1986 (I said 1987 but meant 1986…GAH). I was 16. And I worked at Wendy’s on the main drag in my small hometown.
This was on the heels of the Where’s the Beef? era and back when Wendy’s employees still wore hideously goofy hats and striped zip front smocks and the tables where covered in that old time newspaper ad motif. I remember my navy blue polyester blend work pants smelling like a greasy blend of cooking oil, ketchup, and Frostys. You wouldn’t want to light up a cigarette near me as I might spontaneously combust in a blazing grease fire.
Oh, the free Frostys. Now that was a perk.
My friend Susan was a senior and worked at Wendy’s part time. She had been an 8th grade cheerleader and rated fairly high on my cool-o-meter so I figured it couldn’t be all that bad.
But it really was. First of all, I was terrified of working the drive thru cash register. All those cars lining up outside and all the buttons on the cash register and the handling of change made me a nervous wreck. For some reason I could handle the pressure of the dining room cash register much better. Maybe because I could face the enemy up close and personal. Of course there was the time that the entire high school boys’ soccer team came in to eat and I was completely mortified because a boy I had a crush on saw me in my zip front smock. Oh, the horrors! He even sauntered up to the cash register and asked, “Where’s the beef?,” flashing his braces. I could have crawled under the fryer and cried. Of course I would have been pelted mercilessly with hot burning grease but that would have been OK.
The fry that broke the camel’s back, though, was when I had to clean both the men’s and women’s bathrooms one weekend. That pretty much sealed my hatred for my summer job and my manager, Jeff. I think I lasted all of about 12 weeks at the job and I never worked in fast food again. The rest of my part-time summer job resume was retail all the way baby. I was always more of a mall girl any way. In college I landed a couple of cool internships: one for a local weekly newspaper and one for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, which sounded glamorous but actually translated into me assembling a lot of media kits and cutting out picture slide labels with an X-Acto knife.
So, in honor of Labor Day, what was your worst summer job?