This is what happened when I quit my first job.

My first real job was working the front register at a local Wendy's. I was sixteen, not sure what I wanted to do with my life, and tired of being broke. My uniform was exactly that; a navy blue pair of slacks, an annoying little cap, and a pinstriped button up top with their logo stamped just above my left breast. It was hard not to stare, even for me.
The job mainly consisted of me calling out orders over an adjustable silver microphone, which I rather sort of enjoyed... "Single cheese everything, no pickle!" It was amazing to me how many times a week the same people came in to get the same meal. "Hey Gary!" I'd cheer with a toothy grin, "The usual?" I had some guys come in at least three times a week, while others only came in once. But each of them made sure they took a few extra minutes to share a quick story with me before picking up their artery clogging meals–and none of them ever left without saying good-bye. It was the one of most ridiculous jobs I ever had, and I never felt so important in my life.

For the most part, everyone got along. The cooks knew to stay on the grill, the prep guy kept up with all the condiment levels, and I never left my post, unless I had to. When you work as a team like we did, you quickly learn who your enemies are, and I had none–until HE came along! He was a balding, middle-aged loner who probably lived with his mother, and within minutes of sizing him up, I had surmised that there was way more to this stout little man than anyone knew. For starters, he was super high strung, and he always seemed to be searching his pockets for something that he never found. "Have you seen my keys? I know I left them on the counter!" He had a nervous energy, a plethora of mood swings and a multitude of sketchy personalities, so we never knew who we'd be working with. And we, as a group, felt pretty confident that our new team leader was either a speed-freak or something far more sinister.

The weeks leading up to my resignation were nothing short of a disappointment. He was always harping on me to do things that I'd already done and never let me clock out one second early. "It's not six o-clock yet, get back on the register!" The more edgy he became, the more I wanted to turn him in; but who's going to believe a 16-year-old smart-ass over a closet drug addict that looked likeMr. Whipple's son? 

My last day was like any other; I clocked in, threw on that stupid pageboy hat and started calling out orders, "Triple cheese everything, biggie fry, large Frosty!" I can't remember what my mood was like, but I'm guessing toward the end of the day it had become quite agitated. I had just finished cleaning all the trays and putting them up to dry when I realized that it was almost time to leave. As I grabbed my time card to clock out, he came rushing out of the office and yanked it from my hand, "It's not 4:00 yet! Did you finish cleaning trays?" I advised him that I had and that my station was clean. "Well," he shrugged, "Let's just go have a look then!" He fished through the sea of red plastic trays, searching for evidence of misconduct. "You call this clean?" he scowled, "Get back in there and re-wash all these trays you supposedly just cleaned!"

The trays were spotless and I knew he was just being a jerk; but even still, I could feel my blood beginning to boil. He had embarrassed me in front of my friends, which was something I just couldn't tolerate. My mother once told me that you should always find a job before you quit the one you have. And for a moment, I almost took her advice. I looked up at the clock and knew there was no way I was ever going to get out of there on time if I had to clean all those trays again. So I did what anyone in their right mind would have done under those circumstances; I walked over to the sink, pulled back the hose as far as I could stretch it, and sprayed him right in the face. Then I sprayed the cook, the prep guy and the entire front end of the register.

As I punched my card for the last time, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. It was over; I would never have to take orders from a guy who didn't know how to give them again. As I stormed past the register on my way out the door, I could see him out of the corner of my eye–scrambling to clean up the mess. And to this day, I wonder... If he ever cleaned up his own.

Sometimes the biggest mess is the one you can't see.



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