Summer is now over and it is only now that I am back at university that I realise how much of it I spent working. Over the years I have had a lot of jobs. I got my first job when I was just fourteen. In the ‘Memoirs of a Teenage Worker’ series I will be focusing on a different job in each post and reflecting on my experience.
Part 1 – KFC
In the Summer of 2012 I signed my contract to work at KFC. It was the Summer after Secondary School and I was desperate for a job. Everywhere I looked wanted experience in their particular field. Of course, I could not get that experience until I had been given a job. And I could not get that job without the experience. You see the problem?
Then I got the magical phone call from KFC offering me an interview and then later a job. I was beyond excited. I was about to be paid £3.78 an hour to spend my day frying chicken and sweeping floors but who cared? I had a job!
I turned up for my first day with a big smile, proudly wearing my red KFC shirt with my black regulation trousers and non-slip shoes. The hair net was adorned and the customary KFC cap firmly secured. I was ready.
My Knight in corduroy clothing….
My face was all sweaty because it was the middle of summer and there was no air conditioning in the shop. I was on my hands and knees, questioning my life choices, whilst scrubbing the remnants of a group of students’ ketchup fight.
Then I look up and there standing was an elderly man, I would guess in his seventies, looking down at me. I get up and ask him if I can help him and he says:
you know you don’t have to do this, don’t you?
I am confused. He then goes into this long speech about how is a very wealthy man and that he will take me away with him to his house in New Zealand. He tells me with a wink that all I would have to do was ‘keep him company’, look after him a bit and also get married to him.
I could not help but laugh, feel a little sorry for him and then decline the offer. He looked at me in absolute shock and tells me again how he would give me a good life and even though I was young and probably wasn’t attracted to him I just had to stick it out for about fifteen years and then could inherit all his money. I decline again and this time he actually gets angry and storms out…
The tale of the generous lady…
This one time, a black family came and I noticed the thick Nigerian accent of the woman. She looked like she was Yoruba (the tribe my parents are from) so when she came up to the till, I spoke to her in Yoruba saying “Hello. How are you? What do you want to eat?’.
I really do not know what came over me as I usually avoid speaking Yoruba because I am quite frankly not that great at it. However, she was so excited to be served by a fellow Nigerian that she sneakily slipped me a £10 note. I was so unbelievably excited, this would have been nearly 3 hours wages!
The (not quite) Cinderella story…
I also had a lot of not so good times. I clearly remember this shift where I worked from 12 am until midnight. My shift was nearing the end and I could see my dad’s car waiting to pick me up outside. However, my manager refused to let me go and she locked the door. She said that I could not go until I had re-mopped whole shop and she could see her reflection in it. I did not actually leave until quarter to one in the morning.
I also saw some questionable methods of preparing food that would really put you off fast food. All I will say is – I wouldn’t buy the gravy from a fast food shop. I had customers assuming I was stupid, others telling me intimate details of their private lives. One even breathed heavily in my face before proceeding to ask me if she had bad breath. I witnessed a proposal. Well, it was actually just outside but still. I even had men flirting with me just to get an extra piece of chicken.
I could talk all day about my crazy KFC stories but i’ll stop here.
KFC gave me a job when no-one else would and it truly grounded me. No matter how high up the corporate ladder I climb, I do not think I could ever look down on anyone. There is something about earning so little for doing so much that changes a person.
So next time you go to a fast food restaurant and you practically chuck your coins at the attendant or your click your fingers and roll your eyes just stop. Remember that these are humans too who deserve to be treated with dignity.
Have any of you had any weird and wonderful customers or experiences at work? If so please comment because I would love to read your stories!
It’s just me, Dammy, can I retire yet?