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Working the drive-thru

I got my first job just after I turned 16. After a month or so of applying at sporting goods stores with no luck, my dad brought home a McDonald's application. I had wanted to avoid fast food, but with no prior work experience, the retail stores wouldn't touch me.

Me at 16, thankfully not wearing the blue polyester McDonald's outfit.

Happily–yes, happily–the store manager hired me at the end of my interview and I started working part-time after school and on weekends. Why happily? Well, because it turned out to be an unexpectedly good experience for a couple of reasons. Other than the joy of making buttermilk biscuits at 0530, taking drive-thru orders, and stuffing Happy Meal boxes with the latest toy. ūüėČ

To start, the restaurant where I worked was about 10 miles from home. I didn't know anyone. I made friends (and actually dated) without the stigma of my mediocre high school social status. (This was back when high school kids were still the main workforce for fast food restaurants.) I could just be me without any baggage or history. For this alone, that job was worth it. My confidence and social life were better for it.

McDonald's may be the butt of many jokes, but they excel at standardization and they hold their employees to a high standard. I actually missed out on a portion of my three-month raise because I had forgotten to wear black shoes twice! When I moved to California after six months of hawking burgers (which are not flipped, by the way, we used a clamshell grill), I finally landed a job at a sporting goods store, largely on the basis of a recommendation letter from my former McDonald's manager.

I've had several experiences where I didn't get what I thought I wanted, but it turned out being great anyway. I guess that's one reason why life rarely gets me down.

What about you? Any unexpectedly good first jobs? Or just unexpected results from something you thought would be bad? I'd love to hear.


This is a random collection of fun things from my European tour that I haven't already mentioned.

This semi caught my eye on the way to Florence. Truck drivers in many European countries are not allowed to drive on Sundays or holidays (or even the whole weekend). They just have to stop and park until the ban is off. This driver apparently ran out of clean clothes.

Laundry truck

McDonald's and Burger King are all over Europe, but the menus are modified to fit the local tastes. I'm still not sure if this breakfast sandwich in Innsbruck looks good, or like something covered in bugs. Note how the menu is partially in English. We saw that a lot, whether the English made sense or not.

Good morning, Innsbruck

Mmm, nothing says pizza like an American gangster.

Pizza speakeasy in Innsbruck

No refrigerator for your kiosk? No problem. Just stream cold water over the drinks all day long. Seems wasteful, but I can't decide if I want the water to be recycled or not.

Water cooler

This shop window cracked me up. “Um, excuse me. Where's the door?”

How do I get in?

Want an easy, memorable web address? Try this one.

Anyone have a pen?

The cars in Europe were noticably different. Until we reached England, they were mostly small hatchbacks or station wagons, and even the American makes were usually models we don't have in the US. My youngest dubbed this Fiat Panda the “fat panda”.

Fat Panda

Saw this in an antique/junk store window in Lucerne.

I'm going kuckuck

This poor person was on the third floor of a building in Lucerne that must have had a tight staircase and no elevator.

I hope this wasn't an emergency

The EMT might want to check the patient's blood pressure...

And finally, even on a trip to Europe, we couldn't escape the Bella, Edward, Jacob love triangle.

Are they sexier in German?

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