It is hard to believe that I got my first job 29 years ago. Was 1994 really that long ago? Man, it doesn’t seem like it. It seems like it was just yesterday and I was showing up to Taco Bell for the first time…to work there and not eat.

Do you remember your first job? When I was 16 I was a bit naive…granted we all were at that age. In being naive, I thought that the managers of the store would have their stuff together. I thought that Taco Bell would be a well run machine. After all, I liked the food, so what would be so hard about working there. Yeah, the shine wore off real fast.

I didn’t realize back in the day that when you go to work for a place, there is a fine line you walk between knowing what the end product is and really knowing how it is made. To this day I will not eat the bean burritos there. Or the tacos. Or…eat there at all. Part of it is because fast food really isn’t good for me. The other part? I know how the food was made back then…can anyone say boiled in a bag?

It was also the first time that I remember being stuck in a place that I couldn’t leave for a predetermined amount of time, doing things that I did not consider fun. I can look back now and see the lessons I was learning much clearer than I saw them then for sure. I don’t remember the manager’s name, but I do remember her as an abrasive, do it because I told you to type. These days I deal with people like that often and I know how to handle the interactions. Back then, I had no idea what to do.

I can also look back and see the obvious business lessons I was learning. I remember having to weigh the ingredients that went into the food. I don’t remember the manager ever telling me it was to control food cost and overall spend. I wouldn’t have understood those terms then anyway, but I sure do now. I also remember having a crash course in customer service. It was really hard then to be really nice to some people that would come to the counter. Let’s face it, Taco Bell on the late shift is a magnet for strangeness.

I am glad I had that job though. It only paid me 4.75 per hour, but it gave me a lot of pride in making my own money. I took pride in how I treated people. I tried to do my very best. These are things that I work tirelessly on now. Everything I learned back then is still very applicable today.

I am glad to have moved beyond making retried beans in a bag and burritos, but I do appreciate the memories and lessons it gave me. It was far from perfect, but it was a good first job.

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