I graduated summer of 2022. That winter, my family decided to stop traveling in our RV (indefinitely) and move into a house in the city. Being the ideal (and possibly only) time to get a job, I decided to go for it. I ended up landing a job at Pizza Hut.
What I expected to get: a full-time job as a cook or something else in the background—preferably with an organized team and manager. $12/hr was my minimum starting point.
What I actually got: a part time position as a customer service representative. I’m working with very chaotic and disorganized people. A lot of them act not-so-professionally, and there’s a lot of swearing and some sexual innuendo stuff going on. I’m getting paid the absolute minimum legally allowed: $11/hr. My job consists of answering phones, placing orders, and manning the front desk—all customer service stuff. The only cooking I’m doing is wing orders.
Applying for the Job
Pizza Hut’s website allows you to apply to certain positions at certain locations. I chose the location less than two miles away from our home and selected a specific role: cook. (I needed to be able to walk to work if necessary. So far, I’ve only done that once.)
The website gives almost zero information. There was nothing on the pay or hours except that the position was “full-time,” and the website said I’d get more information at my interview. A few days later, I got a text from the area manager. She told me they could interview me, and she set up a time and place to meet.
I went into my interview ten minutes early. Ten minutes passed, and my interviewer (who I work with, by the way) was still not there. Another ten minutes. Still nothing. Another ten minutes, and my parents suggested I reschedule the interview to another day. Finally (at over 30 minutes late to my scheduled interview), the guy got in. At that point, I knew the job was super casual, and I’d pretty much lost all respect for said guy. (I mean, who comes in 30 minutes late to an interview?!) The guy called me to the back and proceeded to scroll through his phone a bit before telling me a bit about the job and asking me two questions. One of them was if I’d had a job before. The other was about…actually, let me give you the full experience.
Guy: What’s one good thing about you?
Me: I’m organized.
Guy: I’m not.
Guy: All right, what’s one thing you don’t like about yourself?
Me: I have mild social anxiety.
Guy: *nods and proceeds to hire me*
Oh, and for clearer context, he’d just told me the position was a CSR one, which meant I’d be working with people. At that point, I didn’t care; Mr. Guy had set himself up for failure. He’d come in late to the interview, and on top of that, the job turned out to be nothing like what I’d signed up for…unless you count the fact that it’s at Pizza Hut. I was really questioning whether or not I really wanted the job. When he asked what one bad thing about me was, I purposely said social anxiety, because it contradicted the role, and it was more likely he wouldn’t hire me. But apparently, they’ll hire anybody. As long as you breathe, have a pulse, and can learn and work, you’re good to go. So he showed me the forms I’d be signing (all electronically) and left me to sign them.
At that point, the “rush” (when people start ordering all at one time because it’s a meal time) had started. Because the guy had come in late to the interview, he was busy making pizzas while I asked him questions and signed forms. I did a lot of standing around—partly because I was too nervous to interrupt, and partly because the guy kept forgetting I was there and chatted with his coworkers when he wasn’t busy.
Finally, about three hours later, I’d signed anything and had no idea what was supposed to happen next. My interviewer was still busy but managed to tell me that I could go; I was hired. I then asked about dress code and a few other things. Then, I left. (I was given almost no information. I came into the interview knowing pretty much nothing, had to press my interviewer for information, and left knowing almost nothing, since there was too much to ask about, and I was just in the way. At this point, I was really considering whether I actually wanted the job or not.)
First Day of Work
I didn’t hear anything for the first week. I’d been told I’d get an email with more information within the next couple of days. However, after many days of dead silence, I contacted the area manager and asked her about the position. (They’d really hired me, right?) She never responded to my text. A few days later, I received a call from the guy who’d interviewed me. He asked me to come in a certain day and told me my training would begin then.
For training, I watched a bunch of cringy videos (think little kid shows that try way too hard to get the viewer involved) on how to be a decent human being. The voiceovers were terrible, the acting was bad, and the videos were horrific. I don’t think I’ve ever cringed so hard in my life. It’s like Dora the Explorer, where she’s constantly asking “what do you think we should do?” and saying “let’s look at the map!” in a fake, overly-excited voice. Anyway…
My first day of work was New Year’s Eve. I came in to work thinking I was going to do more training. Instead, I was tossed straight into the mix. New Year’s Eve was super busy. I was put on phones and phones only, and they were ringing almost constantly for a couple of hours, so I had plenty of opportunity to get adjusted to the job. When things started to slow down, I found myself standing around a bit, and since I didn’t know how to do anything else and didn’t want to get in the way, I let it stay that way. When my scheduled time ended, I left the restaurant and went home.
The second time I went in for work, I learned how to cash customers out at the front desk and make sure they get everything on their orders. I also learned how to make wings, which isn’t part of the CSR role, but it’s nice to be able to help out wherever possible, since the Centerton location doesn’t schedule enough people. (They want to make as much money as possible while paying for the least amount of labor possible.)
I figured out pretty quickly that my training was going to be minimal. Instead of doing the shoulder-to-shoulder work on the lists in my training program, I was taught only as needed (whenever things happened). There was very little training and a lot of, “Here you go. Do this, and if you need help, call for someone.” A lot of times, there was no one around to coach me through things, so I was constantly asking for help with stuff I was already supposed to know. As a result, I ended up taking my training into my own hands.
If I wanted to learn how to do something, I asked about it. If a customer had a situation I didn’t know how to handle, I handed it off to a manager and made sure I got the details of how things played out and why. (I prefer to know everything than remain ignorant and have to ask for help when the situation happens again.) Some managers were more than willing to help. Others weren’t so enthusiastic about my many questions. And I get it; it’s annoying when a new person comes in and is constantly asking you to explain things to them. Thus, I ended up singling out the more friendly people for advice. After a week or two, I began to get into the gist of everything. Things started to come naturally to me, and soon, I knew how to do more things than the other CSR’s and delivery drivers (who can answer phones, do dishes and prep, and deliver food to customers).
I hit it off immediately with the customers. The rules are pretty simple: smile, give people their (correct) orders, fix any mistakes promptly with an apology, and show that you care. People seem to appreciate the way that I treat them. A few even comment on my “good attitude,” and regular customers sometimes stop to chat with me for a bit (although I have to admit I don’t remember most of them). In such a fast-paced environment, there’s no time for social anxiety to set in. Thus, I grew accustomed to interacting with strangers almost immediately. I even found myself enjoying the job.
I still don’t know all my coworkers, and I’m not sure all of them know me. When I first entered the job, I was pretty reserved and shied away from talking to anyone. However, one night of chaos and laughter was enough to change my mind. New Year’s Eve was crazy. Besides the many customers, someone had brought in party stuff (decorations, accessories, and candy). A few people were hard at work running the store. Meanwhile, the rest were lounging around whenever possible, joking with each other, and blowing party horns in each other’s faces. Seeing how free everyone was with each other made me let down my guard a bit, and I decided to take on socializing with an open approach.
I didn’t try to talk to anyone. I barely met anyone the first couple of days. However, when people talked to me, I welcomed them (not literally; I’m talking body language and tone of voice here), and I attempted to be extra friendly. This resulted in me making a few acquaintances. We’ll get into that in a little bit.
The first thing people seem to notice about me is the way that I work. Apparently, in the fast food industry, it’s difficult to get people who work hard, treat customers and coworkers with respect, and do things with a positive, helpful attitude. In my first few days, I got a lot of comments on my “work ethic.” Delivery drivers appreciate that I help out with dishes. (That’s their responsibility in down time.) Managers appreciate that I do my job—and more—without being asked. (They don’t need to constantly check up on me like a babysitter. I know what to do, and if I don’t, I ask for advice or help.)
Of course, I didn’t know how to do everything right away. When I first started out, I was helping a lot more with dishes when things weren’t busy. However, as I learned cut table, WingStreet, make table, and front desk, I moved to doing those instead. One of the managers also recovered the CSR cleaning duty list. (Someone “lost” it, apparently.) Now, every night I’m scheduled, I spend at least an hour cleaning things, including the bathroom, windows, and phones. I’m also in charge of wiping down food areas and making sure the fridge up front is stocked. Heavy trays of soda—combined with mopping—has made sure my shoulders and neck are given a thorough workout.
I met my favorite manager a few shifts in (along with my favorite coworker, but she recently left). Unlike many of the other managers there, this manager is approachable. He shows he cares about and appreciates his employees, takes action to make sure things run smoothly, and overall just makes my shift—no matter how chaotic—enjoyable. Mostly, he doesn’t act in a condescending manner. He’s very friendly and treats everyone as an equal, and I like the way he coaches through things. (Think charismatic and hands-on, vs commanding.) He’s proactive, realistic, and knows what it takes to get things running smoothly.
Meeting said favorite manager is when I really started to look forward to work. Shifts with him are fun. Any ones without him are either fun or all right. In fact, there was only one time I didn’t like a shift, and that was when I was stuck with two managers who stayed at cut table most of the time, joking about…well, not-so-appropriate things for a professional environment.
Okay, maybe two shifts. There has only been one so far where I felt like crying, however (go-to response for dealing with stress and angry people). It didn’t have to do with the manager. We were swamped, I was the only CSR, and I was filling in for a lot of cook stuff, all while dealing with impatient customers on the phones. We also had a new cook that day (so more mistakes). Oh, and prep hadn’t been done earlier. Overall, it was super stressful, but afterwards, people were back to laughing and joking around.
I’m actually really surprised how much of a difference the manager makes. Sure, having certain coworkers around can make a difference, but the manager seems to set the tone for the most part. Some days, people are less willing to help out (“that’s not my job”). On others, my coworkers are putting in a ton of effort to help where they can—even beyond their actual responsibilities. Then, there’s the matter of how laid-back/upbeat everything’s going to be.
Actually, let me take that back a bit. It takes a majority of the team to make a difference. Starting at the top, if the managers are either ignoring their employees or going around with nothing but criticism, the workplace it bound to have a negative atmosphere. If employees come in with personal issues and are feeling down and showing it, people around them are bound to feed off of that negativity. However, if people come in with smiles and a good attitude, it’s likely that others will catch on, and work can be fun for most—if not all—employees.
In the fast food industry, there’s a high turnover rate. People are constantly cycling in and out of there, and at my workplace, it’s difficult to find people who are reliable and consistent. Thus, it’s convenient to have people cross-trained in multiple roles. A couple of weeks after starting, I’d learned how to do pretty much everything except cooking, and I was even told I could become a shift leader. (After two weeks! It’s crazy how quickly you can move up here.) I didn’t become a shift leader, as I currently can’t fulfill the role, but it seems like any dedicated worker can do so.
After a few cooks left, I was asked to cross-train for the position. I agreed, and after one morning of some manager coaching, I knew how to make everything on the menu. So now I can do pretty much everything. It’s helpful on days when there aren’t enough people, and I believe it lifts some of the pressure off of my managers’ shoulders. Oh, and an update: I now work full-time. Well, I have more hours at least. Now that I’m a cook and CSR, I’m able to fill in for more of the schedule.
Plans for My Job
I’m still in the “figuring it out” stage with my job. Right now, there are a ton of reasons to leave, and the only thing keeping me there is the fact that I like it. Plus, there’s a chance I might be able to make a difference. (Side note: I went into the job “knowing I wouldn’t like it.” To my surprise, it’s turned out to be the opposite way around. I owe it mostly to that one manager. Things are changing, and I feel like a partner in crime 😉)
Reasons to stay: I love my job (currently). It’s really fun, and surprisingly, I like the fast-paced environment. I also like that one manager in particular. On days we’re scheduled together, it feels more like hanging out with a friend doing a (sometimes stressful and chaotic) activity, rather than working a job. Same with a few other coworkers. Also, due to said manager, things will be changing. I’m very excited about it. (If you know me, you know I’ll jump on any chance to be the change anywhere. I’ll literally give it all my energy, time, and motivation.)
Reasons to leave: The pay is terrible. I’m doing almost everything a manager does and making minimum wage. Even managers don’t make much. Drivers can earn $30/hour on busy days, while managers are earning like $13/hour doing a lot more. Also, the scheduling isn’t the best. They’re trying to cut down on labor, which results in chaotic shifts, managers getting more hours due to having to stay late, and everyone else feeling left out. The schedule gets posted way too last-minute. Then, things get switched around without notice. One week, I had an earlier version of the schedule and was coming in when I wasn’t supposed to…but we won’t get into that.
If I could sum up my workplace with three adjectives, it would be this: chaotic, uncommunicative, and inefficient. With the right people in higher places, things could be run a lot better. That’s all I’m going to say.
I know this is an entry-level job. I’m not supposed to care about the company, and I’m not supposed to want to change it for the better. However, that’s exactly what’s happening. If I see a chance to make a difference, I’m snatching it up, and needless to say, I’m going to continue to give Pizza Hut my all. So, am I staying? Yes, I am—for now, at least. Do I see this as a career? No, not really. It comes down to the poor pay and unsteady hours. If it were up to me, I’d be working four ten-hour days as a cook then night CSR. I’d also be earning at least $13/hr. However, it’s not up to me, so I don’t think I’ll be staying here too long.
I don’t plan on leaving now. As mentioned before, things are starting to change, I’m excited to be a part of it, and I enjoy the job. I guess there are only two ways I’d leave. One, if my favorite manager quit. (😅 I know I sound dramatic, but without him, I only see things going downhill.) Two, if I make a ton more money freelancing once I turn 18. However, it would probably have to be a combination of these two. I think there are a lot of ways God could use me in my workplace, and I don’t want to cut it off prematurely for money, especially when the Lord has already done some stuff. Onwards and upwards!