Did you ever as a teenager have a job that changed your life? A job, that as look back on it was like a great teacher in high school, and realize you’re better for having gone through the experience? McDonald’s was that teacher and recently taught me another lesson.

Lesson #1 – 1973

I turned 16 and applied for my dream job – a counter person at McDonald’s on State Street in Ft. Wayne Indiana. I got the job and after two weeks of doing a GREAT job, turned in my resignation. I was used to receiving praise for a job well done (thanks Mom and Dad). But our McDonald’s was very busy – huge crews, great camaraderie – but not a lot of one on one with the managers. And I was certainly (by my estimation) not appreciated for my hard work. Huge disappointment. And quitting seemed to be the solution.

When I told my manager Sobi I was quitting he said, “Why are you leaving?” I said, “No one has told me that I’m doing a great job.” He gave me a deadpan look and said, “Let’s go clean LOT AND LOBBY” ehh. Back then, we had 3 sayings:

1. If you’ve got time to gripe, you’ve got time to wipe.
2. If you’ve got time to lean you’ve got time to clean.
3. Double folding is our bag. (if that’s a bit harder to understand – go get a meal and see if your bag is double folded…I fear it may not be…)

Clearly Sobi was engaging in #1 and #2 of our sayings. No standing around at our McDonalds! As we began to pick up trash in the lot, he said, “Do you think you’re doing a good job?” “I do!” I responded. He looked at me and said, “Vicky, if you spend your whole life waiting for people to tell you that you’ve done a good job you’re not going to get very far in the world. Sometimes people are too busy or they don’t want to tell you. If you let that stop you, that will be your fault, not theirs.”

I seriously took that to heart and realized I could become someone through hard work or wait to become someone because someone else said I was good enough. I’ve opted for knowing myself more than waiting for another to tell me. I’ve also learned to tell others when they’ve done a terrific job.

I stayed at McDonald’s and saved enough to go to Purdue in January 1976. I was part of the All American Team. I was a Swing Shift supervisor. And I took everything good from the company that was offered.

I’ve never lost my taste for McDonald’s – literally and figuratively. And yes, I know that fat content is high…but did you know a little fat makes for a shiny coat??!

Though I never worked at McDonald’s again, I’ve eaten there regularly over the years. Secretly “shopped” the store and looked critically at what was happening (I still do this!) Fretted about the bad reputation they’ve acquired over different issues, watched Supersize Me in horror, and from time to time sworn off their delicious but fatty food. I bought and retain my McDonald’s stock. STILL wear my Ronald McDonald watch that I won in 1977, have all my original plush characters, and generally support them.

As I travel the world, I always find the local McDonald’s from Australia to Italy to Russia to Israel.

You now know it’s dear to my heart. And my psyche. In the last couple of weeks my faith was shaken in this great organization but it has been restored. More soon.

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    Victoria Trabosh

    Victoria Trabosh

    Since 2003, I have leveraged my 40-year business career and life experience into a role as an executive coach and international speaker, author and columnist. Practicing what I preach, I have been my own agent of change during my career. It has sparked in me a passion for helping others change as well. In fact, I’ve committed my life to it.

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