By Anna Keresztesy

Over summer vacation, teenagers all across America are tasked for the first time with finding a job. Based on my years at HB and overheard conversations, it’s safe to say that the majority of the student body here has not worked a true minimum wage job. ‘What?!,’ you ask, ready to report this article to the Retrospect Police (which are completely real), ‘I worked at my dad’s company/as a lifeguard/at a lab etc. all summer!’ Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but that just simply does not count. I don’t make the rules. In the state of Ohio, minimum wage is $8.55. I started working at McDonalds the summer after freshman year, so my wage is a little higher than that. However, the majority of any raises I’ve gotten don’t mean much now, because minimum wage was $8.30. Sure, it’s only 25 cents, but anyone who works hourly wages knows that every cent counts. While it isn’t great to watch Snapchat stories of seemingly every other teenager in the state living their best life on a yacht, or taking spontaneous trips with their friends while you sit in a greasy break room (if you’re allowed to use your phone during your shift without getting in trouble, it isn’t a real job- I’m looking at you office interns), I can live with it. What I believe everyone forgets all too often is that there are so many people who have to live with it.

Everyone asks me about the weird customers and coworkers I’ve had. Believe me, there are more than I can count. One guy had to be asked to leave when I was closing the store on Christmas Eve because he was throwing dishes and threatening to slash tires. But as weird as a lot of my coworkers are, and how mean the managers seem at times, I have to think about how different out lives are. I just spent 247 words feeling sorry for myself because I have to work every weekend while people at school can quit once August starts. What can I say, the closer college gets, the more I regret spending my money on tea and candles (I have a problem, please help). But I am so extremely fortunate. I can fake an illness to go to a last minute concert. I can request off a week to do nothing. My life does not depend on my paycheck. Here’s a fun anecdote I think you’ll like. My manager went to US. That’s right. You dad/brother/boyfriend’s alma matter has an alumni that is a McDonalds manager. He is a brilliant person. Without much warning, he will start sharing trivia about ancient civilizations, or show everyone working a riddle and give the correct answer a free McFlurry. Not to brag, but I’ve won a couple of times. Because he is from our world, the land of private schools, my manager understands when I say I can’t work because of school. He gets that my career path won’t be there, because his wasn’t supposed to be either. But his mom got sick when he was in college, and he had to drop out to move back and take care of her. That’s life.

There is a married couple who are managers, and they have a six year old daughter. Sometimes their babysitter cancels, and she has to sit in the store for hours. A customer called to complain about her sitting alone, so now she has to stay in the back with nothing to do. Neither of her parents can call off, because that might mean a second mortgage. That’s life. There are three women over the age of seventy who work with me. They aren’t managers, just ladies held at the same status as fourteen year olds despite their age, because they don’t have enough retirement money saved up to live on. That’s life. There have been a few people who’ve been pregnant and worked there. The smells from the kitchen would make them so nauseous they had to sit down, but calling off work was impossible with maternity leave coming up. That’s life. A boy in a US jacket said “you need a real high IQ to work at Mickey D’s” as my sister, an HB alum, opened the window. That’s life. I’ve had receipts thrown at me, phone calls to the managers right after they leave, cussing over the headset, and even grabbing a cone and throwing it back at the building. That’s life. 

Next time you want to complain about how god forbid some woman asked you to hand her a towel at the pool you work at, or how boring your desk job was, please think about the fact that you aren’t doing that anymore. You don’t have to. If you think your check was small, think how small it looks for some who’s ability to buy food this week relies on it. That was my rant for this edition of Retrospect, I mean no disrespect to anyone who has worked at or eaten at a McDonalds, or to anyone who has complained about a summer job. This in no way represents the beliefs of McDonalds corporation. Thank you.