Why All Young Folks Should Work


Our host extraordinaire Kaylie at Puckett's in Franklin

I have had a longstanding belief that the world would be an all-around better place if everyone was required to work in some kind of service industry as an adolescent. It doesn't really matter what industry it is as long as it requires getting their hands dirty and doing something for others for a paycheck. It could be the food industry, retail, salons, washing cars, mowing lawns, serving popcorn, scooping ice cream cones.  I believe that it would make common courtesy actually common, decrease personal debt, and I don't know.. maybe even achieve world peace. Here's why:

1. You learn how to work with people that are not like you.

The service industry attracts all types, and likely some of them are people that you have nothing in common with other than the fact that you work together. Learning how to work with someone who is completely different than you is an excellent skill to have when you begin a career. Those are the people you often learn the most from, and that you'll appreciate as you head into the real world. Also, you get to tell stories about crazy Suzy for the rest of your life.

2. You learn how to grin and bear it. 

Let's be honest, not everyone is nice. In the restaurant industry especially, people come in well past hungry which often equates to cranky. Sometimes they are just a downright rude person that loves to take out their aggression on unwitting teenagers. Regardless, you are taught to smile politely, to hold your tongue, and to offer palatable solutions to their complaints. This skill has served me well nearly every day in my restaurant career. It becomes a personal challenge to get that person to smile before they leave, and nothing feels better than that.

3. You learn how to appreciate and manage your own money. 

When I got to college, I was absolutely dumbfounded that so many of my peers had no idea how to take care of their own finances. They would receive their student loan check right before the semester started and blow it all in one weekend on anything but school expenses - with loan money that they are still paying off today and will be for the next several years! Working at a young age stocking drink coolers for hours and cleaning out the sticky ashes of the smoker taught me to care for each and every single dollar that I earned.

4. You learn how to be a good customer.

Elementary school rules are cast into a whole different light when you are serving other people. "Treat others as you'd like to be treated" and "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all" become words to live by. You now know from personal experience that everyone is susceptible to an off day every now and then, and that it feels really good to be appreciated. Please and thank you go long, long way and no one knows that better than those that spend a good portion of their shift cleaning up other people's trash.

5. You get to say "I washed dishes before there were dishwashing machines!"

Did I like getting elbows deep into the murky dish water, scraping pans with baked-on crud with a spoon until my fingers resembled shriveled raisins? No. Did I complain about it sometimes? Maybe. Am I immensely proud that I can say that I did it? Absolutely. I can already hear myself saying things to my daughter that my Dad said to me growing up - that it "builds character" and that "every detail matters." {please don't tell him I said that!} But today I am able to say that I have done everything. I took out the leaky trash bags that busted on me, I mopped the floors (the right way!), and I scrubbed the toilets. Plus... it feels really good when you finally get to tell the new kid that he now gets to do all that stuff while you handle the cash register :-)

I am always so impressed by the young people that we employ and love to watch them grow and learn. They are smart, kind, hard-working kids and I know that they are going to carry the life skills that they are learning at our restaurants with them for the rest of their lives. It's another reason why I love doing what I do.

I would love to hear about your first job growing up. Are you glad that you did it? What did you learn?


xx Claire