We have all been there: the second shift at McDonald's, dishwasher at the pancake joint down the street or sign waver for H&R Block.
These jobs became the routine that we hated, and once our paychecks came, we only hated them slightly less. Only later, when we moved up the corporate ladder (or stepped on the first rung), did we look back on our employment "opportunities" to see the life hacks they truly provided.
The 10 life lessons below remind us that there was, indeed, a reason behind all the embarrassing mayhem:
10. You learn to respect the other side of the customer service world
Remember when it felt good to call up your bank and give them a piece of your mind? Remember when you got a customer who gave you a piece of his mind?
Working in customer service has taught you one valuable life lesson: Don't piss off the people who aren't responsible for your problems.
There is no worse way to ruin your entire week than to have to listen to Joe cuss you out while not being able to argue back. You will never hang up on a telemarketer again because you'll hear her soul dying through the phone, and you've been there.
9. You gain a new respect for waiters, waitresses, hostesses, cooks, etc.
You think twice before rattling off your drink order and cutting off your waiter mid-introduction (I hear they hate that). You also go out of your way to ensure your order is as simple as humanly possible.
When you overhear someone dissect an entrée because she doesn't like it -- but is willing to order it, anyway -- you cringe and cannot believe why someone would mistreat a server just for sh*ts and giggles.
Deep down, you know it was the restaurant kitchen world that changed your view on the entire concept of serving food.
8. Nothing makes you ponder the value of a dollar like your meager paycheck
This is especially true when the hours worked and people tolerated are significantly higher than the dollar amount. The only things missing from that paycheck are actual drops of tears, blood and sweat, but you buckle down and gear up for another day.
Why? Because your bills don't ask why you're willing to clean the toilet for minimum wage. You just do it, with sorrow.
7. Spending like "it ain't nothin'" does not happen
This further supports the point in number eight. You find yourself looking for discounts and coupons, and you feel like a true VIP when you find the sale section at your nearest liquor store. The only way to get rid of that "dead-end job" smell is to get annihilated in the play-pen at the McDonald's where you work (true story).
6. You learn to prioritize your time and resources
If you're working part-time and going to school full-time, there are not enough hours in the day for you to be a truly happy person. In your hectic schedule, you learn how to make it through your day without combusting, killing coworkers and your boss, or going off at the lady in the grocery store.
The same applies for full-time employees, only they have the full eight hours to work on these highly survivalist skills. Whatever the case, you distribute your energy in the direction of least resistance: alcohol, crying and Netflix, in that order. Eventually, you learn to "breathe in the good sh*t, exhale the bullsh*t."
5. You begin to understand the employment game
No longer are you the happy employee in every God-awful training video ever made. Really, you were never meant to be because that would entail bending over backwards to be the perfect worker, and you know now that just isn't acceptable.
Sometimes, you have to say no and set standards for yourself, which could work out in two ways: 1) You could get fired (and then not care because screw them, right?); 2) you could show your boss you have a spine and maybe get that Saturday night off. Maybe even a promotion? Opportunity, rise!
4. You develop skills you never thought one could obtain
I bet you never saw your dishwashing job as important, but it is. Not only can you get those plates scrapple-free and clean, you're also doing a task some people would turn their backs to in disgust, immediately.
You understand that every job, no matter how dirty or annoying, is important to that town, city, people, society and the world on a grander scale.
You also put yourself at the epicenter as the one person who is responsible and able to carry out that duty as professionally as you can make scrapple. Go 'head with your fancy self!
3. You look at your calluses and wrinkled fingertips as badges of honor
You're exhausted, mentally drained and smelling like a dirty apron, but you worked your ass off and had a more productive day than most. There's pride in that, somewhere deep inside your heart that still remains optimistic.
2. You realize we are all on the same playing field
No matter how long you've gone to school or what your long-term goals are, you learn to value not just the dollar you make at your dead-end job, but also the people with whom you work.
Their goals and ambitions may very well be similar to yours, and you learn to respect the job for what it is and what you bring to the table.
1. Real people = real networking
The biggest perk of your dead-end job becomes the interaction with your coworkers (or at least the ones you like).
There will never be people closer to you in your life with whom you wouldn't mind going to happy hour every day of the week or opening up to in your time of need.
You may not even know a damn thing about them, other than what their favorite entrée is on the menu, but there is a connection there unlike any other, and it makes every day worth it.
Photo Courtesy: DreamWork Pictures/American Beauty