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Once the time came to leave the mortgage company job I found myself back in my old stomping grounds, fast food. This was a bittersweet re-acquaintance as I had truly thought I had moved on from this sort of work into greener pastures. While that was partly true, it was somewhat nice to be around some familiar faces.

My previous stint in fast food, which lasted several years, provided me with some useful experience. I had become a ‘wildcard’ employee meaning that I could perform any position in the store. I liked this because it offered some variety to my work days as well as some preferential treatment by certain managers.

It was not long into my return to fast food that I was offered a pseudo-management position. The “Crew Leader” as it was called was an hourly position however it had some shift authority and carried with it some responsibility for opening and closing the outlet and managing cash. I was really excited for this opportunity and gladly accepted the position.

While not a surprise, the position was not going to be located in my home store. I was going to have to move to a newly opened store in another county, 35 miles away. I decided that this would be ok since it was such a good opportunity.

At this time I was still in college taking 3 classes. My typical day was like this: get up at 5:00am, drive to the store, open the store, work through the lunch shift, drive to college, sit in classes as late as 9:30pm, drive home, get home about 10:30pm, study, sleep, get up and do it all again. Needless to say, I was burning the candle at both ends.

During this several months that I worked in this mode I managed to get into the only car accident I have ever been in still to this day. I dozed off at the wheel and hit a telephone poll. This was a sign. Something had to change.

I managed to convince the regional director to move me to a closer store. This helped quite a bit with regards to the commute time however there was a seasonal different that I had not known about. This new store, like the one before it, was located inside a food court in a mall. This move came in the later part of the year as we approached Thanksgiving. I had heard of how busy food court stores could be during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas but had never experienced it first hand. It was my turn now.

The sizes of the crowds were unbelievable. We were having to place stock orders at 3 times normal levels. We could hardly move in the back room because of all the overflow stock in the mornings. By the evenings it was gone. I would never have imagined so many people in one place but that year in the mall you literally could not move without bumping into people.

While all this work chaos was happening, my school schedule remained. I managed to get through the Christmas season with passing grades, some semblance of good health and a feeling I had begun to develop some familiarity with, its time to change something.

Before the beginning of the next school semester, I had decided that the crew leader role was too much. I could not keep the necessary wits about me while trying to manage the job, school, relationships and health. I sat down with the regional director and thanked him for the opportunity but asked if I could return to a crew position at my old store. Thankfully, he did so and, to my surprise, he let me keep my hourly rate unchanged.

So now, here I am back again, in my familiar store with familiar people doing familiar things. I was disappointed in myself this time. I felt like I had been given a great opportunity and failed. One good thing in this was that I was able to see my girlfriend more who happened to work at the same store. The silver lining right?

A few months into this old new scenario and something unplanned and unexpected happened. I had a friend in high school that I still kept up with. He had recently landed a contractor position at the local office of a large global computer company. I was not looking for another role but for some reason he had mentioned to his step-mom that I was good with computers.

Come to find out, his step-mom was a technical recruiter with a local company and had actually placed my friend at the computer company. At the time, they needed some help. He said that his step-mom was interested in speaking with me. I was a bit nervous as I had just settled down in a manageable routine that allowed me to manage school and work. I was not interested in another change so soon but, the opportunity sounded interesting so I decided to apply.

As it turns out, my experience at the mortgage company with word processing was a key skill this group was seeking. The group was responsible for the bulk transformation of large software manuals and the production of RFP and bid response documents. I interviewed for the position and was made an offer in the same week.

First off the increase in pay was huge. I went up three dollars an hour. Now I got to work in an office again that was only 5 minutes from my home and I got to work with my good friend. This was a dream come true.

Since I was appreciative of how my fast food management had treated me I asked them if I could stay on the payroll and just work on a call-in basis if they needed me. I felt liked I owed them somehow. They agreed.

My next big break had just begun. I almost couldn’t believe it. It happened almost the same way as the first time. Now I had to make this one last.

Tune in next time for A Father’s Gift Part 5: The dawn of a career


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