My experience with a minimum wage job


photo via Investopedia

Ahh, money. It truly makes the world go round. It is almost impossible for any high schooler to be financially independent, but having even the marginal income provided by a minimum wage job is refreshing. Not relying on someone else for money is a rush that can only be experienced first hand. You can treat your friends, pay for your own gas and drink as many iced coffees as the budget allows. Best of all, you never have to hear “Did you get a job?” out of your parents’ mouths ever again. The first time my mom got a “yes” in response to that question is a moment I will treasure forever. 

The responsible young adult I like to pretend I am got a job the second my mom told me too. I worked full time at a fast food restaurant last summer for some petty cash and gas money. After a few months, I had a routine established. Leave for work by 6:30 a.m., start making salads, restocking items and taking drive-through orders at 7 a.m., a long day followed but I was home by 3 p.m. Evenings were filled with baseball games, household chores and summer homework assignments. 

When school began again, this delicate equilibrium was disrupted. I could no longer work 40+ hours a week and maintain my GPA, a social life and extracurriculars. Something had to give. Luckily, my parents were supportive. They explained that they didn’t expect me to work through the school year — I gave my two weeks notice the next day. It was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. 

When the pandemic shut down the country in March, we suddenly had an abundance of free time on our hands. For a family of busy people, the break from the monotony of everyday life was nice — for a while. Pretty soon, my mom was begging me to get out of the house and I was finding any excuse to go for a drive.   

When a barbecue place I frequented in downtown Wooster advertised an opening, I decided to apply. One interview with the owner later and I was employed again. A new job meant more responsibilities, a new menu to memorize and a new operating system to learn. 

In a world dominated by fear, the responsibilities of someone with a minimum wage job drastically changed. Each table in the restaurant needs two coats of sanitizer before anyone can sit down and masks are a fact of life even in a blazing hot kitchen. Workers hand sanitize constantly and live in a state of anxiety. They are scared of contracting COVID, whether it be from a fellow employee or loyal customer.  

Now, I understand how important social interaction is for all of us. I’m just asking that for the next couple months we stay inside and order takeout. The people preparing your food are human beings too, after all.