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Entry date: 4-25-2022 - First job aka welcome to Taco Bell - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

My first real job was at Taco Bell on 31st Street and Thomas. This was the summer of 1985. Things were rocky between my dad, stepmom, and I, at the end of my sophomore year in high school at Deer Valley, so we all decided that I would live with my mom for most of the break between school years.

I have vague memories of the interview, which was relatively short, and I think I started right around the beginning of July. I made minimum wage like everyone else just starting at a fast-food joint. This was $3.35 in 1985 and I remember being excited about the idea of getting a paycheck. I wore a brown polyester uniform to work, and it was very hot walking from 28th and Osborn to work.

It is funny how the images flood the brain as I think about this for the first time in a long time. I can see 30th street pretty clearly in my mind right now, as well as the inside of Taco Bell. The first day I did dishes for my entire four- or six-hour shift. There were a few people that I would get to know a bit that worked there, including some people that went to Camelback High School. At the time, I didn’t know I would be moving to the CenPho permanently later that year, so I’m guessing I didn’t really put a lot of work into building friendships at the Bell.

Working in fast food is not easy. I washed dishes for a few days and then graduated to cooking meat and beans. Of the two, I’d say washing dishes was easier. You would see where you were scheduled to work when you walked in each day and punched the time clock. I remember being really happy when I started seeing my name under something other than dishes or “20/20.” This stood for twenty pounds of meat and twenty pounds of beans. That’s a lot of meat and beans.

Eventually I started getting “dining room” sometimes, too, which meant that I had to sweep the floors, wipe off the tables, empty ashtrays (yep), take out the garbage, and clean the bathrooms. I remember one time some older punk rocker types came in and I happened to be wearing my black creepers that day with my nice brown uniform. I made a point of going out and cleaning the dining room a lot while they were there hoping they would notice my shoes. Ah, to be fifteen again …

I worked there all of July and August before moving back in with my dad. I’ve never really thought of this before, but if I had just stayed living with my mom, perhaps I would still have a sense of smell? I wouldn’t have been riding my ten speed from Marc’s house that day. I probably would have been at work at Taco Bell. The smell of Taco Bell is still etched in my mind, too. It was hard to get that smell off of you when you left work, that’s for sure. Polyester is good like that.

I didn’t have a lot of talent for making the food, so I was rarely on “the line.” I was good, though, at dealing with customers, so after a few weeks of working there, I ended up working the register and drive thru a lot. One day this biker dude came in with a bone in his nose. It was the first time I had seen a big piercing like that up close. I was very impressed and surprised at how nice the guy was as he told me about it. It’s funny how you remember things like that. Piercing wasn’t big like it is now back then.

On a side note, it was later that year when I was up in San Francisco with my mom and a guy she was dating that I saw my first eyebrow piercing. I remember being super impressed with that, too. I thought I might get one, but I’ve still never had a piercing to this day. I doubt I am going to start now. You never know, though.

I remember being kind of bummed about quitting Taco Bell. I did like most of the people I worked with, and the managers were cool to me. It was a good learning experience, too. I am thankful that I learned early on to just go to work and do what you’re asked to do. If you do that, people leave you alone and you end up getting treated well.

My next job was working at McDonald’s on 59th Avenue and Bell. I only worked there for about three weeks due to moving in with my mom permanently in December of 1985. As I think back to that time now, I wonder how much my concussion/bike accident impacted how I was seeing and experiencing the world. I have fleeting memories of working at McDonald’s. My dad and I were pretty strained, so I remember him picking me up there and having awkward rides home.

I don’t think I got to work the register too much at McDonald’s. You had to put in serious time or be a cute girl to get that duty. I made a lot of hamburgers, though. I’m guessing I probably smelled like McDonald’s pretty badly when I got home but I didn’t know it. I did like having a bit of money in my pocket. You could do a lot with $60 bucks a week in those days.

I didn’t have another job until the summer of 1986. I enjoyed a lot of freedom, living with mom, probably too much freedom, and when I finally got a job at Arby’s at Town and Country (20th Street and Camelback), it only lasted one day. I have a vague memory of being there and learning about how some of the processes worked at Arby’s. I’ve mentioned my short tenure in another blog, I think. My buddy, Bill, had his first show with the band Response at The Metro the night of my second shift and that was that. I gave them their uniform shirt back and they gave me $12.

That building isn’t even there anymore.

See you tomorrow.

Yep. Stylin' and profilin'...

Here is what I was really digging in 1985....

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