"Original or Extra-Crispy?"
This is a phrase that I said hundreds of thousands of times. Back when KFC was still proud to call themselves Kentucky Fried Chicken. Back before "deep-fried" and "grease" became dirty words. Back when I was a sixteen year old girl who didn't know what she would grow up to be.
As a girl, growing up we weren't exactly wealthy. I knew that anything I wanted, like brand name clothes or a car, would have to be earned on my own. A week after I turned sixteen, legal working age back then, I took myself off to find work. Don't ask me how I decided on Kentucky Fried Chicken. It wasn't even in my neighborhood. I didn't know anyone that worked there. It was the very first place I put in an application. Two weeks later I became a cashier at the chicken place. The job lasted a year and half. An eon in the fast-food world. No other job has taught me as much, to be honest.
There was a cast of characters that were unfamiliar to me. Mean girl, who delighted in being snobby to the newbies. Playboy, who had peaked in junior high and a few years past dropping out of high school was using the restaurant as his personal dating service. Cool and aloof manager who seemed to always be looking around the kitchen and wondering how she got there. The assistant manager, whom having risen to the peak of her career, was going to help others do better and get farther. Learning to get along with everyone, or avoid the ones I couldn't, was the best lesson life could teach me.
In case you've ever wondered - yes, we totally would drop your biscuit or chicken on the floor and then pick it up and toss it in your box anyway. We also switched out expiration stickers on the dessert cups that we wanted. Same with the little sandwich snackers. Despite taking food before it's time, I took my job very serious. Most of the time. Very quickly, I learned that if I worked hard and did my best, the powers that be took notice and rewarded me with pay raises, as well as increased responsibility. Just as quickly, I learned that if my parents grounded me I could always pretend that I had to work and then go hang out with my friends. As long as I was home shortly after quitting time they were never the wiser.
It's been some time since I've thought about that first job of mine. I'm glad I got the chance to take this stroll down memory lane thanks to a writing prompt by Almost There. The girl I was back then knew things that the woman I am now has forgotten. Such as, it doesn't really matter where you work or what your profession is. All that matters in the end, is that you do your best and take pride in your work. And, when you're asked, "Original or extra-crispy?" take one of each. They're both equally tasty.