Why Everyone Should Work At Least One Year In The Food Industry


I graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. I was obviously bound for greatness (read: grad school) after I finished college, and it was the perfect time to figure out what the hell I wanted to do with my life. After taking my first “big boy” job and hating it, my younger brother helped me get hired at his former place of employment for all of high school and most of his undergrad summers and holiday breaks: Smoothie King. For those of you not in the know, Smoothie King is basically Jamba Juice’s older brother with semi-healthy concoctions. In the almost nine months that I’ve been here, I’ve learned a lot while getting paid $10 an hour for rote, mindless labor. Here are the four major life lessons I learned while working at Smoothie King to pay for graduate school (and the miniscule amount of bills I have to pay while having my mother as a roommate).

1. How To Be Patient With Dumb People
If I had a dollar for every knuckle-dragging moron who came through my place of employment’s doors asking a plethora of questions they could have easily figured out themselves, I’d be like Chief Keef laughing to the bank. For such a simple job, I have to do an extraordinary amount of handholding for these customers and explain things to them numerous times, even when the answer is in front of their faces. I can usually see them coming from a mile away, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and ages, but I digress. I can usually upsell them on things that they don’t need so my boss won’t be on my ass.

2. How To Deal With A Difficult Boss
My boss has a reputation around my town for being a tightwad, and his views on how the world works (and things in general) contribute to that. He owns and manages three other stores within a three county area, so he’s always looking for ways to cut corners and save money. If he wasn’t obligated by the government and labor laws to pay his employees, I’m sure he wouldn’t. It also doesn’t help that he’s the biggest hypocrite you’ll ever meet, and he isn’t afraid to tell you when you are in the wrong about something incredibly minor. Also, he’s never wrong and he never makes mistakes. I’ve tried numerous times to see things from his perspective, but it always leads to migraines, so I stopped doing that. When he’s frustrated or angry, he tends to take it out on whoever happens to be around him. Nine times out of 10, it’s me. So, naturally, his employee turnover rates are bad. I can’t count the number of coworkers I’ve seen quit just because they were tired of dealing with him, but when I start wanting to go Wayne Brady on him, I remember he writes my paycheck and gave me a job. That usually stops me from going through with it. Well, that along with Lexapro and exercise.

3. America’s Future Is Fucked
As I mentioned previously, my boss is notoriously cheap and he hires a bunch of high schoolers because he can pay them less than he pays me. Capitalism at its finest, ladies and gents. Unfortunately, he hires the laziest, most spoiled, private school-educated assholes possible. Then again, I got hired because of nepotism; but once again, I digress. Ninety-five percent of my coworkers have never had a job before, and damn, does it show. They bitch and moan about their 20-hour work weeks and actually having to do their jobs while I’m working give or take 30 to 50 hours a week. They take off pretty much every weekend and major holiday that they can, which, I may add, are usually our busiest times. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard them bitch about their three or four hour shifts when I’m working a double shift on any given day. I guess you could say I’m the office old guy, because I’m constantly giving Mr. Miyagi-like advice to these dumbasses since I’ve been around the block a time or two. It’s astounding how much they don’t know about the real world, or about how life actually works. Upon talking to them and learning that the majority of them want to go to college and be accountants, doctors, engineers, and other professions in the high-paying STEM fields, it terrifies the ever-loving fuck out of me. Mary, Jesus, and Joseph–are these kids part of America’s future workforce? The apocalypse is nigh if that’s the case.

4. How To Kiss Major Ass And Bullshit People
As with many jobs that involve interacting with the public, in the food service industry, you have to learn to bullshit. It’s a way to “throw some Ds on that bitch,” as the wise rapper Rich Boy once said. I sold ads for my high school’s yearbook back in the day, so I learned to hone my bullshit craft then, but this job basically helped me perfect the skill. I like to think of myself as the Michael Jordan (when he was with the Bulls in the ’90s) of bullshitting people while on the job. It’s all about the pitch and the confidence you have when stating utter bullshit in order to sell somebody on something that is the key. As long as you remotely sound like you know what the fuck it is you’re talking about and you’re charming or witty, people more often than not buy into it. It may sound totally underhanded–and it is–but fuck it. The food industry is dog eat dog, and I’m top dog at Smoothie King. Would you rather rattle off truthfulness and not get jack shit for it or totally lie and make guap for doing so? If you’re reading this and think you would take the moral high road in a job like this, go fuck yourself. You wouldn’t.

I think everyone needs to work some type of food service job at least once in his or her life in order to get a taste of humble pie and reality. I feel like I’ve benefited from this job a lot, even though I find myself bitching about it from time to time. However, we all do with our respective places of employment. You learn so much about yourself and others in these types of jobs, and I’ve become more patient and understanding because of it. I’m also a better tipper whenever I go out now. Be nice to food service people–you don’t know their stories and they don’t know yours. Odds are, they have a lot of other shit to deal with outside of work like you do. Also, you don’t fuck with the people who make your food. I’ll leave it at that.

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Mr. Lahey

Supervisor of Sunnyvale Trailer Park. I am the liquor. In real life, I'm the dead eyed 20 something who desperately wants to spit in your food and tell you to go fuck yourself.

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