A while ago, I got asked what my worst job ever was. Most people then think of jobs they did while they were young to make some extra money.
I’ve worked for 4 months at McDonalds back in Vienna during Senior High. But as a matter of fact, that was not my worst job. Actually, I think it was the funniest job I’ve ever had. I had a bunch of really friendly and funny work colleagues and I actually enjoyed working there a lot. We joked a lot while serving burgers and fries to customers. I trained in making the fastest fries ever (though my technique was against the books and not well looked upon) and tried to make my customers smile (which can be challenging when you have to deal with mostly serious Austrians). I wasn’t really fond of the wardrobe, but at least I didn’t worry about spilling anything on it (nothing could make the cloth look worse anyhow).
The funny part of me having that job was that I hate fast food. I don’t eat burgers (though I don’t mind fries – I mean seriously, who does?). I also wasn’t fond of the salads there (though the advantage of working there is that you make your salad yourself, which means you don’t find crappy leaves on the bottom of the bowl while eating).
Surprisingly, I’ve also learned quite a bit while working at the fast food chain. For example, if you smile for no reason at a complete stranger, he most likely will smile back and feel shortly better (kind of weird how a smile can change your mood). Smiling at your customers not only causes them to give the favor back to you but also makes work so much more enjoyable. I also was surprised to meet so many very intelligent people at the restaurant. A bunch of them came from poor countries with university degrees.
Next to McDonalds, I’ve also been employed at a coffee shop for 9 months (nope, not Starbucks) while working on my thesis. Again, it was definitely not my worst job. My boss and one of my colleagues were awesome and we had lots of fun. We also had a bit of a competition running: Who could find out and remember the most amount of customer names. I sucked though since I don’t have the best memory when it comes to names. Nevertheless, I think people started enjoying coming for a coffee since they would encounter a great team behind the counter that made fun of each other. Seeing some friendly faces during your work break can make a huge difference.
What I’ve learned from these jobs is that a good working environment can make a basically boring job fun and enjoyable. Of course, I prefer being challenged with programming tasks instead of having to serve burgers and coffee to people. Nevertheless, a good working climate is essential for having happy employees.