I was 15 years old and broke. And as we all know, it sucks to be 15 and broke (I know, it sucks at all ages but at 15 you’re simply stuck with very few options). Unlike my friends who got allowances, I was not so fortunate. I did, however work at my parents’ mom ‘n pop fish and chips restaurant. But knowing how much of a struggle it was to get by, no way was I going to ask for money. So one day I went to school and applied for a work permit. I decided it was time for me to grow up and make it on my own. And the corporate ladder I chose to climb was our local Jack in the Box.
This is not the glorious Jack in the Box we all know now with the Lakers halftime show, this was the old Jack in the Box known for allegedly serving its patrons kangeroo meat (still not sure if this is a fact but in the 80′s that was the word on the street).
So I went to Ross and bought the most professional outfit I could afford– a Cosby-esque sweater and off I went. I met the store manager at the counter and she interviewed me at the lone booth by the window. She asked the standard questions and I was ready. No hesitating answers, minimal use of ‘like’ and definitely no ‘I don’t know’. I was proud and thought I nailed it. But five minutes in she finished by saying that I didn’t get the job. I was in a daze on my bike ride home. I couldn’t believe it. It’s not like I was shooting high like trying to work for McDonald’s or anything. Plus, there was no way another person could turn in a better resume. I was in honor classes. I had perfect attendance. I already worked at a restaurant. I was almost an Eagle scout. And to top it off, I was involved in sports and clubs. What more could a 15 year old do?
Next day I woke up and called her to ask for another interview. She agreed and I show up again, sans the sweater. We sat in the same booth and she asked the same questions. I seriously kicked ass. But it ended the same way. She scribbled something and rejected me. I finally had to ask her why. She gave me some generic answer and left. But on her way back to the kitchen, I was able to catch what she scribbled: “No smile.” Was that all I needed? No way! Well, I went home and replayed both interviews in my head and you know what? She was right. Jack in the Box didn’t want some serious/intense person flipping their meat from down under, they wanted someone who could do it with a smile.
Well, that was it for me. I had learned my lesson. I also decided that I ultimately didn’t want to work in a Box. So I took my resume and smile to somewhere that I thought would appreciate me…
Knott’s Berry Farm. And that’s a story for another day, folks.
Have a great weekend.