Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Working a Minimum Wage Job Taught Me...

Every teenager in America should work a minimum wage job. I don't care if their parents have money. I don't care if they have money. Every teenager in America, especially middle and upper class teens who might not *have* to work, should work a minimum wage job (at least for a season of their life!). Here's why...

Working a minimum wage job has taught me:

  • The value of a dollar
  • Sometimes you have to do things below your "skill set" (and you have to do it with a smile)
  • Workplace gossip is impossible to escape
  • If there is no gossip about you, people will gladly make some up
  • Some people are not worth $7.25/hour
  • Some people are worth so much more than $7.25/hour
  • Some supervisors are not below breaking the rules
  • People in authority don't always like it when you don't break the rules too
  • Customers often find it okay to talk down to a minimum wage worker (and you realize how not okay that is)
  • Standing for 8-13 hours is not easy and may result in tears
  • Just because your register is off 20 bucks at the end of a crazy day, you're not a horrible person; it happens to the best of 'em
  • Humility and patience are learned skills, not born virtues
  • Time is valuable; selling an hour of life for $7.25 is not easy or fun and doing so over and over is even worse
  • Sometimes you want to quit but if you made a commitment, you've got to follow through
  • And even with all of the hard stuff, there come some rewarding moments too
As a Christian (who previous to working my first minimum wage job had little exposure to non-Christians and especially non-Christian teens), I think it's important to experience an environment where you are the minority. At my first minimum wage job, I was the only Christian surrounded by a dozen or more non-Christians every day. Although I did not often tell people about my faith at work, my co-workers could tell I was different. And they didn't really like it. They did not invite me to their after-work outings or even ask me for a phone number or a friend request on Facebook. Being an outcast from the rest of the group made the job all the more difficult but taught me that I really did need to become "all things to all people" (1 Corinthians 9) in practical ways if I was going to save even one! 

Those are just a few of the valuable life lessons I have learned by working minimum wage jobs. I do not think I could have learned them any other way. 

What valuable lessons have you learned from working a minimum wage job?