A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken as a teenager. But that was not my first job at a fast food restaurant. No, my career as a fast food chef began at McDonald’s when I was 16 years old.
I still think McDonald’s was probably the funnest job I ever had. Well, until they fired me. Several friends worked there during my time, and I made several new friends as well. And the girls! McDonald’s may not seem like the best place to find pretty teenage girls, but during the fall and winter of 1984-85 in Sanford, Maine, it was. Seemed that way to me, at least.
The managers seemed to like me a lot. Well, until they fired me. When I would finish my shift and wait for my ride, one of the managers would usually bring me two Quarter Pounders with cheese with no onions or pickles, just the way I liked it. No charge. I didn’t even have to ask. And the Quarter Pounders were better back then, juicier, not like the cardboard patties of today.
I remember walking the two miles to work in my McDonald’s uniform, proud of being a working man. My mother was embarrassed that I’d wear my uniform in public and convinced me to carry it in a bag while I walked to work. I couldn’t understand why I should be embarrassed – I was making $3.35 an hour! Who wouldn’t be proud?
I have to say, I didn’t like the pressure of the job. I’m not good under pressure. After a football game, or when a busload of people pulled in, managers would be barking orders, frantically telling us to hurry, while all kinds of loud buzzers and alarms were going off because the buns or burgers were ready. When a burger or bun or anything else got dropped on the floor during a rush, we’d just pick it up and use it. Sorry, folks.
Then there were the slow times. I was fired during a slow time. In a burst of curiosity I had yet to reveal in any science class, I tried to cook three pennies on the grill to see if they would melt. This wasn’t the first time I’d tried to cook coins, though it was the first time I tried pennies. The new head manager saw me doing it and fired me on the spot. Jerk.
I tried to explain to him that I was Gary and I was known to goof off but everyone was okay with it. I wasn’t hurting anyone or anything, with the possible exception of the pennies. But somehow he was immune to my youthful charms. And so I was sent McPacking.
In case you’re wondering, coins do not melt on the grill. But they do tend to get nice and shiny.