There’s nothing quite like it; the friendly faces, the fresh smelling popcorn, and the anticipation of wanting to stand out amongst your co-workers. I walked into the building with a pep in my step, my hair slicked back into a tight ponytail, restrained by my company-worn hat (which was mandatory as part of the uniform), and my belt buckle on my pants locked so tightly that it was giving me a stomach ache.
As if the uniform wasn’t uncomfortable enough, the ungodly smells and vicious customers would soon harden my shell. However, the first day wasn’t the time for that. I was truly happy. I was going to make money to save for college, make new friends, memories, and who knows, maybe even get a boyfriend. As a seventeen-year-old girl, having a boyfriend was a “top priority,” and with a sea full of absent-minded, immature boys, what better place to explore than your job?
I was a deer in headlights. My heart was pounding so fast it felt like it could’ve ripped out of my shirt, spilling blood into the customers’ popcorn. They’d probably deserve it. The name of the game on my first shift was survival. Like Rick Grimes says, “If you don’t fight, you die.” Fortunately, the guy who trained me was like a God sent. He was kind, relatable, and patient with me. Three qualities that would assist me in making it through four hours of “ma’am where are the straws?” when they’re right in front of them, “I said no ice” (after they watch you fill up twenty cups of soda with ice), and “would you like extra cheese with your nachos?” Although the general manager promoted employees to have a healthy, fit, clean lifestyle, we were basically forced to entice customers to buy extra cheese. As if they needed it.
Four hours of relentless, nonstop action had gone by, and I didn’t have a moment to myself. I found it ironic how other senior employees (aside of my trainer) had managed to escape the registers in the front area to take a drink break, play games on their phones, and call their moms or their mother’s mom. It wasn’t a question; there was an unspoken rule that if your line disappeared, you would too. Although my fingers were stuck together from overfilling sodas, and my ankles were aching from never being used to the demand the concession stand had to offer, I was delighted. Not only did I make it through the first shift, but I made two friends; my trainer (who could be friends with the devil; he was so pleasant and humble), and a blonde, athletic looking girl, who went out of her way to put a lid on my cups when I wasn’t looking as a voluntary, warm-hearted gesture. At the movie theater, this was a miracle similar to the one on 34th street. I was, and will always be thankful for the day I met Pop.
The lesson to be learned here is that the amount of nerves and time spent with anxiety leading up to the first day of work (especially if it’s at a movie theater); isn’t worth it. The customers will never change; no matter how many times they come to the same location, they’ll act as if it’s their first time there, forever. Your co-workers are there to help you get through the day. Without them, you’d rather watch paint dry than spend your free time pretending to care about the complaints the customers have to say. My advice on your first day is to S.M.I.L.E., and within a short few months, you’ll be able to become the person the managers want you to be; the MVP.