303. Advice from a reformed food monkey

When my little sister told me she got her first job, sure there was pride, and some melancholy, too, about how quickly she’s growing up without me. She’s officially driving, working a part-time job, giving me advice about girls and getting grounded for making questionable decisions regarding her own safety.

She’s truly a teenager now.  

But when she told me the job was at Fuddruckers — that bastion of corporate burger Americana proudly operating under the unspoken slogan “We’re not quite Applebees!” — I felt a visceral and involuntary rush of blood through the same arteries that place yearned to clog.

I worked at the Billings Heights Fuddruckers from sophomore year through high school graduation. It was exactly the kind of job you’d imagine it would be, but I earned a little money, made out with a couple coworkers off-shift and never really hated myself for it. Isn’t that what you want out of a high school job?

I love my sister, and I want her to succeed. I don’t want her to scrape by for the first few months like I did, constantly wondering if the sauerkraut needs replacing (it doesn’t; that’s how it smells fresh) or trying to get myself put on table-wiping duty so I could watch ESPN while I worked.

So I wrote her a list of tips I learned during my three years or so taking food orders and essential income from Billings, Montana’s middle-class families:

  1. You can like ranch dressing or make it. One or the other. There is no middle ground.
  2. No matter how busy it gets, there is always enough time in the day to sneak into the freezer and eat an uncooked chocolate chip cookie.
  3. Don’t put beef on a baked potato for a customer. That’s not a thing.
  4. Pretending you have to crack your back or neck is a good way to avoid getting in trouble for wiping down tables reeeealllly slowly because you’re watching ESPN.
  5. Flirting gets you tips. For me, it was with volleyball buses that would roll in during state tournaments. For you? I dunno, chess-club meetings? (This is mean, in retrospect. My sister is definitely good enough for a student council kid…)
  6. Subtly try to secure as many workshirts as possible. You can never have too many, and you won’t need to worry about them washing them as often.
  7. If the manager likes you, he’ll talk to you while you’re working. But if you talk to him too much, you’ll get in trouble. The plight of the unskilled laborer.
  8. There Will Be Coworker Drama.a
  9. People will order the one-pound burger. And they will eat it. I don’t know why. No one knows why. America is full of inexplicable monsters of gluttony.
  10. If you’re lucky, like me, it will be the worst job you ever have in your life. But it’s honestly not even that bad. Kick ass. Proud of you. Oh! Also! Always volunteer to get more cups from the back. That’s the best place to hide and text.

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