Working In Fast Food Doesn’t Make You A Failure

An old friend of mine suggested the other day that her life has been a “full-circle fail” because she works for a fast-food chain. Here’s why I think she’s anything but a failure.

Mood music:

One of the things I admire about my friend is that she’s so dedicated to her kids. When she suggested in a Facebook post that she has wasted the last several years caring for her kids and parents and was working for a fast-food chain as a result, I immediately thought of two wise comments from two different people:

If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much. Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

“Experience life among the commoners. Get a job as a hair dresser and learn more that way.” Writer-humorist Roy Blount Jr., in response to someone at his July talk in Concord, N.H. who asked about studies his son should pursue to sharpen his writing chops.

As a dumb 20-something, I labored under the delusion that certain jobs were beneath me. I was a writer and was therefore too good to work in a coffee shop or a shoe store. Only the little people did those things, I used to think.

Talk about bullshit thinking.

Truth be told, I would have been a lot happier in my 20s had I worked in a coffee shop. I could have started my caffeine addiction sooner and maybe avoided all those years I spent lost in the haze of more harmful addictions.

Or not.

One thing is clear to me though: If you spend all your time on your children and end up working in a fast-food restaurant to help pay the bills, you are not a failure.

In fact, you are heroic.


One thought on “Working In Fast Food Doesn’t Make You A Failure

  1. Thank you for this one. I can’t tell you how profoundly I cringe when someone uses the phrase “flipping burgers” as the all-purpose description of meaningless work. Flipping burgers and be great and, if you stick with it, you can advance pretty quickly in the food service industry. It’s not for everyone — and I wasn’t particularly good at it — but it can be a tremendous opportunity for a decent wage and possibly one’s own business. And since when has feeding people — whether at a five-star resort, a sushi bar, a burger joint or a soup kitchen — been considered beneath one’s station?

    The only time the “flipping burgers” phrase was ever used well, in my mind, was at the UMass when MassPIRG would advertise for canvassers with a poster “Flip politicians, not burgers.” But those who flipped burgers made a lot more money, had a lot more fun (despite some tough work conditions) and usually ended up with more girls, parties and occasionally unsavory inducements — what more could a college kid want?

    America’s a “classless society?” I guess it depends on what sense one uses “classless.”

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