I was forced to get my first job at 15-years-old by my dad to pay him back $200 that I never technically borrowed. You see, my parents sent me to Ottawa in Canada to visit relatives during my sophomore year Spring Break. Since I was leaving the country and was going to be without my parents for the first time on a trip, my dad gave me his company calling card for use “in case of emergencies”. I’m sure giving that calling card to me gave my dad some piece-of-mind. Little did he know...
Well, on the second night in Canada, I missed my boyfriend who was all the way back in California, and that was emergency enough for me.
Staying at my Aunt’s house, I woke up in the middle of the night, and crept down to her kitchen to use the phone. I dialed in the calling card number, then dialed up my boyfriend’s phone number. I became addicted instantly and called him every night until it was time for me to fly back home. I sure was happy to see him when I got “back, back to Cali, Cali”.
Two months went by, and I had forgotten about the calling card, assuming I had gotten away with it. Until one day, my dad stormed into my bedroom and yelled at me about it all. Finding out after-the-fact, my dad was pretty livid. There may or may not have been slamming of doors. Did I mention I apparently could have gotten him fired?
A couple of weeks later, it was June and I found myself filling out a generic job application at a neighborhood Burger King, inking in my only job experience as a babysitter and feeling pretty small. But, my best friend, who had just gotten hired there, gave me an “in”. Plus it was one of the very few places that would consider hiring anyone under 16-years-old.
Not too pumped to have to work during the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I did get hired and was happy to at least be able to work with my best friend. Needless to say, my expectations burst like a bubble when she was placed on the day shift while I was stuck on the night shift!
Right away, working sucked. But, I had to go. I had to make the right choice this time to make up for my wrong doing.
Burger King was a fine place to work, I guess. Not “fine” as in “fine wine”, of course, but the processes and positions were very logical and functioned well. Orders could be taken accurately, food could be made swiftly, and employees seem to know the rules and expectations as drawn out by Burger King Corporate.
What didn’t function well was the inflated ego of my 23-year-old manager, causing a severely bad attitude. In the words of comedian Dane Cook describing his time working at Burger King with his older brother, “He thought he was the Burger King”.
Let’s just say he was the type of person who elicits your happiness only when you find out from the newest posted weekly schedule that you’re on the night shift while he’s on the day shift...with your best friend.
After two months of cashiering, filling up sodas in old-fashioned small, medium and large cups (remember when they were normal sizes??), mopping floors at closing time, and working the drive-thru, I quit. And it was thrilling. I had paid back my dad, had money for cute clothes, and went on with my life and into junior year that September, never wanting to step foot in that place again.
Since Burger King, I’ve roped in more jobs than I usually tell people. And, like moving on from a past relationship, I can’t help but compare jobs I’ve had. My first boss was not very nice, so already my comparison benchmark was pretty low.
Through experience and observation, I can’t tell you how fast morale goes down when you have a boss or manager or supervisor who isn’t that nice, or who isn’t that cool-headed or who won’t give you a chance or give you breathing room, or who won’t answer your questions without sounding condescending. Or who won’t answer your questions.
There are a few things I value in a job, and one of those things I didn’t even have on my list until I started working at San Diego Sign Company. Like a battered puppy at the pound, I had no idea what good and decent could be. What’s that “thing” you ask? It’s Kindness.
Fifteen years into my work life, I’m happy to report that I finally found nice people to work for. Our CEO and Founder, Craig Van Velzer and his brother, our CFO, Eric Van Velzer are some of the kindest people I have ever met, let alone, worked for. And what’s more? They take care of us, their employees. I’m not a morning person—just ask my husband—but it’s not hard to wake up to go to work when I know I’m working in an environment that is relaxed, friendly and, simply, kind.
Check out the 7 bullet points in this article on Huffington Post by Robin Hardman called, “What makes a Company a Great Place to Work?” as it helps to clarify what I mean by “nice”.
Are many companies great places to work? It’s hard to say, but I do know that San Diego Sign Company is an awesome company to work. It’s truly a friendly culture. I do wonder, though, why does kindness seem so neglected in the workplace?
Also, check out this shout out by OC Tanner. San Diego Sign Company made his list of “top 10 coolest companies to work for in San Diego”. Click HEREBy Victoria Rodriguez, Copywriter for San Diego Sign Company