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Life Behind the Register

Artwork by Isai Herrera

Artwork by Isai Herrera

Artwork by Isai Herrera

Artwork by Isai Herrera

Samuel Rivera, Reporter

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The transition from childhood to adulthood requires some first time experiences. Although school is important and many students begin to think about what their next step will be after high school, some decide to find a part time job for various reasons. Motivations to work may range from saving up for college after graduating high school to starting to pay for their own personal expenses and becoming more independent. However, one of the types of jobs that King City High School students decide to apply for is in the service sector as employees in restaurants.

While a job at a restaurant may be a great choice for students looking to make their way into the workforce early, there are a few things that are not as easily recognized until one finds themselves on the other side of the counter taking orders and serving customers.

In order to have a greater understanding of what it is like to be an student employee in one of King City’s many restaurants, KCHS students gave their insight on what they have learned and experienced when they made the transition from customer to worker. These students asked to speak under the condition of anonymity.

One KCHS student shares some of her everyday experiences when she first started working at a local fast food restaurant. She expressed that there are minor inconveniences that often build up throughout her shift. For example, when a customer has a relatively small order and they pay using a $100 dollar bill there is a little part of her that wants to sigh, “not this again.”

Another minor inconvenience is when food is served in a tray for customers to easily be able to dump their wrappers and discarded sauce packets in a garbage, but instead the customers leave their trash lying spread out over the table they used. She explains that not only is this a little bothersome to the employees who are often preoccupied with orders, but for new customers who are looking for a clean table to eat at.

A similar sentiment is shared by an employee at a different restaurant. However, where he works the food is served on dishes and the employees are expected to pick up after them. Still, he is slightly bothered by some customers who take advantage of this and leave a large, unnecessary mess which is stressful at times.

Drive-thrus, although convenient for customers, also have their setbacks for the employees. A student employee recalls how she has trouble taking orders because she cannot hear the driver when they leave their car engine on. The struggle does not end there. Sometimes a customer stops a bit too far from the window forcing the employee to reach out so they can give out the order. “One time almost half my body was out the window” she laughed. “It’s not a big deal, but I would like customers to be aware of it.”

Another student worker explains how many people who walk in to order do not realize that the restaurant may also be receiving orders through the drive-thru and, in some cases, the phone which causes workers to divide their attention between different customers. This may once in a while delay an order, especially during a rush period.

The rush is an infamous experience for employees. While it is understandable why customers become annoyed by the wait for their food, one employee explains that it is no picnic for them either. The experience is all too familiar:  first the restaurant is dead silent, then one or two orders are made, next a few more, and suddenly there is a giant wave of customers sending the employees in a frenzy to serve everyone. “It’s like a tsunami” one KCHS student exclaimed.

Another experience that many employees in the service sector have experienced is when they first start out with no experience. One employee illustrates how he was on a phone with a customer and he was trying to record the caller’s order and could not keep up. He described it as if someone fast forwarded everything except him.

Fortunately, he explains, this does not last forever. Typically, employees gradually grow used to the job and become faster and faster. “You may make mistakes along the way, but it gets easier.”

A more general situation that students in the food industry usually do not look forward to is when they are confronted by a rude customer. “If we made a mistake on an order, I understand why they would be upset” acknowledged one employee. However, a few student employees find it a little irritating when they are spoken to in an aggressive tone without an apparent reason, especially since they are attempting to meet the demands of multiple customers.

One of the fast food employees wants customers to know that being a student and working a part time job is a bit stressful since they have to balance work and school. Still, he claims that it is a great learning experience and a way to start earning and save up during high school. It also helps young adults develop their social skills and act professionally.

These employees agreed that their part time job has encouraged them to talk to more people which is a useful skill have and develop in various situations. Not only this, but being exposed to the difficulties that may come from working in a restaurant can give students something to expect when they apply for a job in the future if they decide to enter a career focused on communication and collaborating with others.

About the Writer
Samuel Rivera, Reporter

My name is Samuel and I am an editor for the Mustang Legacy. I help my peers improve their articles and work to raise the quality of our writing. I am...

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