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My First Paying Job

By Aaron Tanner

· fast food,Sonic Drive In,employment,first job,Work Ethic

I thought I would share a story about my very first paying job, which was at age 17 at a Sonic Drive-In. I was hired by a family friend, who heard that I was looking for a way to save up money for a car.

My position involved me doing various task including refilling items for the cooks, counting inventory and refilling customer’s drinks. Once in a while, I would handle taking customer’s orders, but that did not last long as I was terrible at that particular position.

I was also responsible for making Sonic’s hand-crafted onion rings, which involved getting several bags of ring-shaped onions, fixing the batter to dip the onion rings in twice, once for flour and another for bread crumbs and then putting the finished products in the fridge for cooking. It was a tedious and messy process.

The most memorable moment during my time at the restaurant is during the lunch rush one December day. It was the holiday season, and without warning, a manager from one of the manufacturing plants in my city ordered 200 hamburgers and 100 chicken sandwiches for a Christmas party. Because the customer is always right, everyone scrambled, including me, to make sure the order was completed. It took over an hour to get the sandwiches to this particular person and needless to say, the other customers were not happy.

Despite the chaotic atmosphere of my first job, I managed to last two and a half years at Sonic. Fortunately, I did not get fired but instead decided I had enough money to sustain me through my sophomore year of college and wanted to concentrate on my studies.

I believe the understanding nature of the manager is how I lasted so long at that particular location. If it had been any other manager, I know that I would have been fired after a short period.

Fast food can be a challenging position for someone with Aspergers as a lot of sensory stimulation occurs, especially during meal times, trying to remember customer’s orders while working fast while trying to get the order right at the same time. When I visit a fast food restaurant and start to notice that I am getting impatient, I try to remember my time at Sonic and remember that fast food is not as easy as it looks. Instead, I would rather the cooks take their time with my order and get it right the first time.

Sometimes I visit a Sonic Drive-In during their happy hour for a half price slushie. There is no way I could work at Sonic today as their menu is even more expansive and complicated than when I was working there over a decade and a half ago.

Unless one’s situation is desperate, due to the chaotic nature of fast food restaurants, I would recommend those on the spectrum stay away from working at a fast food restaurant. Also, I also suggest that anyone visiting a fast food joint learn to be patient when an order takes more than a few minutes as it is not easy trying to process many different orders at the same time. If someone messes up your order, calmly tell the cashier what part of your order needs fixing. The workers are already stressed and do not need to deal with a customer’s ugly attitude.

Working at Sonic set the foundation for having a good work ethic by showing up on time and learning to get along with co-workers and having a goal of saving my money for something bigger, like a car, instead of blowing my paycheck the very first opportunity I got. I am very appreciative of the opportunity.

What was your first job and how did it go? Comment in the section below.

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