My parents were not going to buy me a car when I turned sixteen, so I had to earn the money to buy one my own. I had been saving Christmas and birthday money since I was ten years old; so I had a enough to get me started. But I still needed some more cash if I wanted to make the insurance payments, or if I wanted to have enough money for gas to actually drive anywhere. So, I applied at the Wendy’s in Jacksonville.
It was the first application I dropped off, and I was told as I dropped it off to come back for an interview the next day. I don’t know if I was lucky, or if getting a job is really that easy. But at least for me, it seemed like a cake-walk since it was the first application I dropped off. So, I started working at Wendy’s. My mom dropped me off the first few days of my job since I didn’t have a car of my own. And on other days I would borrow mom’s car since I already had my driver’s license.
The first day of Wendy’s was brutal. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster with no seatbelt. Everything was lightning fast. Orders were placed, food was made, people were yelling, and food was sent out faster than I could comprehend what was happening. It was intense, and considering the AC in the kitchen had just went out when I got hired, it was blazing hot.
I remember thinking to myself during the first few days of training that I would never get this job. That it wasn’t for me. That I couldn’t handle the speed and stress. After two or three days of training—and time at home studying the menu—I was still pretty lost. I still had to ask people for help, and I felt like I was more of a hindrance than a help in most situations.
It was hard for me because I wasn’t used to be a hindrance. I wasn’t used to being devalued. I went to a high school where I caught on quickly in the classroom and on the basketball court. I felt confident playing in a basketball game, or taking a Chemistry test, but I was so unsure of myself at Wendy’s. I lived in a world where people wanted me to succeed—my coaches, teammates, classmates—but here it was dog eat dog. How do people do this every day for a lifetime?
It was here that I really evaluated what it was that I wanted out of life. Do I really want to work fast food for the rest of my life? It’s not that there’s anything wrong with making a career in the food business, or even working your way up in a fast food companies. However, I learned quickly that it wasn’t for me. While I did eventually learn to enjoy my job there, I wouldn’t necessarily want to make a career out of it.
It was actually my experience with the Pleasant Valley High School cross country team that taught me the character I needed to get through working fast food. When I wanted to quit Wendy’s, I thought about all the times I wanted to quit cross country. All the times I didn’t want to go run ten miles after school. All the times I dreaded going to a cross country race on a Saturday. But in cross country, I learned to power through the pain, and to keep pushing yourself regardless of how you feel.
My natural intention was to cut corners and give up. But my coach, Brad Hood, taught me that you never cut corners. You never give up. And you certainly never quit. He was the ultimate example of a hard worker, passionate leader, and an honest man who works his tail off every day. He passed these ideals down to his cross country team, and I am very thankful he did. Through running cross country, I learned not to give up when things get hard. You push through it. You just keep running—like Dory in Finding Nemo just keeps swimming.
Romans 5:3-5 tells us, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. . .” (New American Standard Bible, NASB). I know that running cross country may not seem like a tribulation to you. But to me, it was. It was the hardest thing that I have ever been a part of. You must push yourself every day to the point that you throw up. You never get any “thankyou’s,” and the entire sport is just the punishment of other sports. You just run—no glory, just guts and hard work.
Nevertheless, it was the difficultly of cross country that taught me perseverance, and the perseverance it taught me paid off when I got my job at Wendy’s. Once I got my job at Wendy’s, I had already established that I wasn’t a quitter. So no matter how miserable Wendy’s was, I would learn to love it, or at least give it my all. Then Wendy’s ended up teaching me even more lesson about perseverance and character. I learned that God can get you through anything you think you are incapable of getting through, whether that be a job where you think you don’t measure up, or a sport where you think you can’t keep going anymore.
I am thankful for the tribulations of cross country, because they taught me to never give up. That lesson of perseverance translated into my job at Wendy’s, and after a few weeks I really caught on at Wendy’s and started to enjoy it—just like with cross country. Through Wendy’s, I learned to serve people every day. Especially people who were never thankful.
Sometimes I would fill an order perfectly and still be yelled at. It was crazy how many people came through Wendy’s that were clearly hurting on the inside—somewhere deep down in their soul. If you get mustard on your sandwich, and you ordered ketchup, that usually wouldn’t cause an emotionally stable person to cuss out the worker at Wendy’s.
That’s how I knew they were hurting spiritually. Because if you freak out about your order not being correct, then I believe there is something else that is really bothering you. If they weren’t hurting spiritually, then they must have just been having a terrible day.
Working at Wendy’s also taught me to value people who work for fast food companies. They have a hard job, and an important job. Being a servant is so important as a Christian, because Jesus was the ultimate servant. Having a job where you are able to serve others is great for your growth as a Christian, and I believe Wendy’s was an avenue for that because I was able to exercise my ability to serve others.
We should be more mindful and forgiving of those who work in the fast food industry, because it is not an easy job. These people are some of the toughest people you will ever meet. I also encourage you to rejoice in your tribulations, because they bring about perseverance, and perseverance brings about character. Character, my friends, is something that God wants to develop inside of you. He allows tribulations to take place in your life so that He can develop it inside of your heart.
If it were not for the tribulations of cross country, then I never would have made it through training at Wendy’s. And if it wasn’t for Wendy’s, then I never would have learned what it’s like to stick through something you think you are incapable of accomplishing, or something you don’t naturally enjoy. Therefore, rejoice in your tribulations because God works through them.
There is an entire section of my book dedicated to answering the question, “Why do bad things happen?” Or it could be more immediately rephrased to “Why am I going through a tribulation?” Both can be answered by Romans 5:3-5, as well as by God’s sovereignty, or the inheritance of sin. I encourage you to get a copy of Five Flaming Arrows when it is released this Christmas to see these questions answered much more thoroughly!
Cite: Faucett, D. (2017). Reflections on Fast Food. Faucett Journal. Retrieved from http://www.faucettjournal.com/articles/reflections-on-fast-food