What Your Shitty First Job Teaches You About Life

Unless you were born a single child, grew up in a mansion and had your own theme park a la 90’s kids movie icon, Richie Rich, chances are over your years you have endured shit and menial jobs.

For most of us this happens when we’ve just scraped by the legal age to work and have zero skills to offer beside the fact that we’re human and can put on ugly uniforms.

For me this started at ripe age of 14 at my local McDonalds.

School  was conveniently up the road and every weekend and two afternoons a week I donned my oil-smelling striped shirt, clipped on my burgundy bowtie and pulled my pony tail through my matching visor to go and ask, “Would you like fries with that?” for eight hours at $7.60 a pop.


To be honest though, I loved that job. I had friends that worked there, I got half price on everything and we’d wile away the slow hours brainstorming (and creating) our own menu items.

By the time I felt it was time to move on and upwards in the world to the shiny retail sector at 16, those golden arches proved to be the most valuable thing on my resume. So despite the minimum wage and second degree burns (true story) there are many things your shitty first jobs teach you that you will carry for the rest of your life, regardless of the direction it takes.

How To Put Up With Difficult People

Let’s face it, customers are the worst.

They are pushy and demanding and they know as well as you do that they’re always right, even when they’re not.

But regardless of how loud that parent yells at you because the Happy Meal toy their child wants doesn’t come out until next week, you still have to plaster on a smile and try placating them in any way possible.

If you don’t tread carefully and kindly, you might end up having a half-eaten Big Mac thrown at you by a customer who wanted a refund because he changed his mind. Also a true story.



Like North Korea, McDonalds has some very effective propaganda training videos about teamwork and how we can be most effective when we work together.

Excuse the cheese, but it really is true.

Working in food, service or retail you can never be a lone wolf. Working in the machine with countless other people teaches you to get along with others when you’re forced together, learn about their (and your) strengths and weaknesses and where you can help, and how to ask for help.

Out of this, the most valuable lesson is how to work with incompetent and annoying people, because you will have to deal with them in every job you have for eternity.

Hard work

Your first and worst jobs are often the hardest, because you and your bosses know you’re cheap labour and they will wring you out for all you’re worth.

Unless you stay in service, and low down at that, there are few times in your life it will be mandatory for you to clean bathrooms, mop up vomit, carry heavy boxes and spend an unhealthy amount of time in a walk in freezer.

But unless you want to lose your job these are the things you need to do, so you better work hard to keep it.


Value For Money

Almost nothing will teach you how much money is worth than working a ten hour shift and having less than $80 to show for it.

Want that brand new disc man with anti-skipping technology? You bet your ass you’re going to have to work some Sunday shifts with double time and a half for that bad boy.

I remember getting my first ATM card and feeling like the richest kid in the world ‘cause I could go to the local Westfield and buy a CD from Leading Edge. And those tunes would sound all the sweeter knowing they were legally purchased with a lot of elbow grease. Or just elbows covered in grease.


Whether the days of these jobs feel like decades ago, or whether you’re still in them, just think of how much you’ve learned in the lower rung vocations because it’s training you don’t find anywhere else and benefits you for your working life.

And if that fails take comfort in the camaraderie built with your fellow brothers and sisters in embarrassing uniforms and the great stories you’ll have to tell when you can finally say, “Started from the bottom now we here.”

Image: Drake – Started From The Bottom