🐔It really is more than just chicken: a reflection
Originally written on June 20, 2019. Posted to Medium on December 25, 2019.
A few days ago, I turned in my Chick-Fil-A uniform and resigned as a Front-of-House Associate. As I was leaving, it was bittersweet to see many of the people that had been giving me encouraging high fives, cracking inside jokes, contemplating existential ideas, and supplying my iced coffee infatuation from the very beginning were there to give me parting smiles. My past year working at Chick-Fil-A has truly been an experience and through observation and experience, I have gained a lot of insight. Who would’ve thought that chicken, a businesslike uniform, yet fun-filled co-workers and memories would give me such perspective?
What I Observed and Learned
Chicken is for everyone
While working at Chick-Fil-A and most likely food service in general, I learned a lot about people: Chick-Fil-A was its own form of people watching. There were customers of all kinds: the regulars with their orders of a large diet lemonade and two cookies, buses upon buses of athletic teams, newly-weds on honeymoons, prayer groups, birthday-goers, families from near and far away, and Vine stars, among others. Although the lunch and dinner rushes were some of the busiest, and to some co-workers, the most frustrating hours, I delighted in seeing the many people that would gather in one place to enjoy chicken for lunch until they all parted and moved on with the rest of their day.
Every employee comes from a different background
I gained a lot of perspective from my co-workers. Like all workplaces, it was a mixed bunch of backgrounds, but all interesting to see how my co-workers planned their own days around working at Chick-Fil-A. There was some content with Chick-Fil-A being their only revenue so it gave them the free time after work to enjoy what they pleased; people working two full-time jobs to make ends meet, yes, 80 hours a week where they went from one job to Chick-Fil-A, to bed and up again; there were those who were students like me who balanced work and school but were earning for their families, whereas I, on the privileged hand could save the money for my own future rather than someone else’s. In the end, we all took unique paths but were joined for our time of work on the same.
I have the power to affect someone’s experience
Working at Chick-Fil-A taught me patience and empathy. To many, Chick-Fil-A was just another stop in their busy day and there were people going through many moods when ordering and treated me with varying levels of respect. To many, I was just a teenage worker. With that carried many assumptions but with this, I learned to throw out my own assumptions. I didn’t know who was going to walk through the front door but I did know I could be one of the many or one of the only smiling faces in their day. Since I interacted with so many people, I had the power to be a positive influence, even if it was simply through order-accuracy and beautifully swirled soft-serve ice cream.
Chick-Fil-A is delicious
My friends used to ask me if I ever got sick of it and honestly, who can get sick of a thick breaded chicken breast, sweet peach tea lemonade, and those giant cross-cut fries? The world outside changed, but every day at Chick-Fil-A was deliciously the same. As a co-worker once said, “same s***, different people.” In the mornings, the smell of lemons overpowered the chicken as the lemons were squeezed for lemonade, and the evenings were the smell of soap as we wiped down everything to prepare for the next day. I loved seeing the tomatoes being cut, lettuce being washed, and full chicken breasts being breaded because it was all so fresh.
Working grounded me
Although I have engineering projects I want to build and beautiful places I want to travel, Chick-Fil-A reminds me of the simple pleasures in life. Working hard after school to make honest money, summer sipping on lemonade, and something so simple as chicken reminded me every day of who I was, who I wanted to be, and what I can learn through every experience. Chick-Fil-A is just the start of a big journey.
I just finished my first year as an undergraduate at UC San Diego and have a long way to go, but will always remember my time at Chick-Fil-A.