Maybe a Teenager’s First Job Doesn’t Have to Be Hellish

I learned a lot working in my family’s cafe, but the most important lesson I learned was that I don’t like working.

What was your first summer job?

I’m a restaurant kid. You know us. You’ve seen us doing our homework in the back booth, taking breaks to deliver your food, clear your table, or refill your drink. So I spent my summers waiting tables, power washing rubber floor mats, and sometimes crying in the restroom because customers are brutal.

I learned a lot working in my family’s cafe, but the most important lesson I learned was that I don’t like working. There were neither mandatory nor spontaneous hydration breaks, no one was making sure I was taking meditative moments during business hours to calmly reflect on the day, certainly no one was encouraging me to journal what I’d learned, especially while customers waited.

Those moments are rarely afforded to any employee, much less kids on the clock. But after reading Brian Burk’s WW cover story, I am very hopeful that they will be.

And maybe starting from their first job, kids will be engaged in a holistic work environment that unlocks unlimited potential for real community engagement and stewardship, and that will be the new norm, rather than the make-money-for-somebody-else, cry-in-the-broom-closet, bury-it-deep, make-jokes-about-it wave we’ve been cursed to ride for generations.

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