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“Would you like fries with that?” Very few, if any, aspire to say that phrase at any age, but I’ve been lucky enough to have been saying it since I turned fourteen. Almost every teenager loathes getting a first job, but for me working at McDonald’s for more than my entire high school career has honestly changed my life. This job not only made me learn how to balance a vigorous schedule, but also changed my outlook on life completely. This job made me realize how different the real world is from the world I knew, transformed me from a naive and inexperienced eighth-grade Catholic school girl into a high school senior who now has a better understanding of society and dreams of changing it.
A job where I flip burgers is the reason I am able to be a responsible and balanced person. When I first started, I had feelings of pure resentment for my job, as it prevented me from having time for fun and doing “normal teenage things.” Now I am beyond grateful to have worked those hours, because they made me appreciate my free time and forced me to coordinate what feel like countless things at once. From my first day of high school, I was able to find a balance between doing well in advanced classes, sports, extracurricular activities, and a social life, while having a job. Along the way there have been quite a few bumps on the road, in the form of fry oil burns or studying for the AP European History exam during a late shift at work. These bumps just taught me that if you work hard enough and do the best you can, you will not only find success but will also exceed your expectations
When you grow up in Catholic school in a white middle class family, you automatically assume that everyone else around you is just as fortunate, but now I know that this isn’t true. This job has taught me how lucky I truly am and how unfair the world can be to others. I work with a woman named Maria; she and her husband are El Salvadorian immigrants. They came to this county about twenty years ago; unfortunately, they weren’t able to bring their young daughter with them. Fearing that they would lose their chance to ever come to the U.S, they left their daughter in El Salvador, planning that they would send for her once they were established here. After all this time, their daughter is still in El Salvador. Perhaps I can never understand the pain and regret Maria must feel, but I will never look at her without compassion.
The last four years making McDoubles have made me realize the potential of others and how circumstances have prevented them from reaching it, and have made me even more determined to excel. Working at McDonald’s may seem like the most mediocre job one can acquire, but it has been the most rewarding, challenging, and affecting experience of my life. I want to use the life I’ve been given to help others who have endured so much more than I ever could fathom. I am no longer that naive Catholic school girl I was when I first started. My eyes have been opened and I am now on the cusp of adulthood. Although the future is daunting, I am ready to face it, all because I worked at McDonald’s.
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