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A Happy Meal for a Happy Mind

In: People

Submitted By coleyk
Words 1384
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A Happy Meal for the Mind

When I was a little girl I always thought it was a treat to visit McDonalds. This magical

place had a giant play-place, ice cream, French fries and of course that special surprise toy

contained inside the happy meal. What else could I have wanted? This world lost all of its

glamour however, when I became a teen who experienced the inner workings of this land

from the side of employment. I will never forget the place that was to be my first

experience of the working world.

My Fifteenth birthday had just passed and this meant I was finally old enough to enter

the work force. So I went to the only place in the area that would hire a kid without

experience or a driver’s license, McDonalds. Now, I wasn't entirely thrilled about the idea of

working in this environment but if I wanted to get a car in the next year it was off to work

for me.

Somewhat sullenly, I donned my uniformed baseball cap and made my way behind the

service counter. Feeling a little nervous, I fumbled as I attempted to tie my apron behind

my back. I began to wonder what I might be assigned to do first. "Well, as long as I can

work behind the scenes and avoid talking to people I should be okay." I thought.

Standing motionless, I observed the fast-food frenzied scene. Employees were running

here and there yelling to one another, order screens were flashing, various machines were

buzzing incessantly and a mass of customers waited to be attended to. I was rather shy and

reserved and seeing this scene caused me a great deal of anxiety. I started to wonder

questioningly, "Am I really going to be apart of this hectic mess?"

I waited awkwardly to the side while the chaos ensued around me. A manager finally

found a spare moment to approach me. Sweat was lining her forehead, “Are you the new girl?” she managed to ask through shortened breaths. This question was barely necessary

because my spotless uniform and timid demeanor gave me away. I nodded in response.

"Okay, follow me then." She hurriedly directed through the kitchen, to the back where the

employee break room was located. I looked around the tiny room that consisted of two

small tables and chairs and a storage space for employee belongings. Flies were buzzing

around the room and seeing the floors I wondered, “Is there no place untouched by grease

in this place?”

The manager motioned to the cubed cabinet against the wall " You can put your things

in there." I set my purse in my designated space, and followed the manager to what would

be my first assignment, learning to use the trash compactor. “Great” I thought, knowing my

sensitivity to bad smells. She opened the giant metal bin and I was definitely not prepared

for the foul smelling odor that hit me full force. I couldn’t help but to let out a gag. My

stomach was churning, I was glad I hadn’t eaten breakfast or it would have certainly been

on the floor. Being rather small, I struggled to hoist the giant trash bag into the compactor.

Just as I did, something unidentifiable and slimy oozed out of the bag and onto my shoulder.

“Perfect”, I thought, “I guess this is a sign of how things will be here”. I just wanted to finish

this task as quickly as possible so I could trap the odor behind the metal door and breathe

again.

I found the next few months riddled with memorably unpleasant experiences as I learned

the ins and outs of the fast-food industry. I am pretty sure I managed to make every

mistake humanly possible. Giant ketchup bag explosions, fryer burns, coffee spills, you

name it, I probably did it. I worked very hard but it never seemed to be enough. I left every

day an exhausted sweaty mess, smelling like greasy old french-fries complete with hat hair.

And Let's just say the grease wasn't doing much for my complexion either.

I began feeling overwhelmed trying to juggle a full-time job along with my schoolwork

and various life commitments. I barely even slept four hours a night and I became me more

and more miserable as the months passed by. One mishap after another just took me lower

and lower. Trying to deal with crazy customers, demanding managers and uncaring

coworkers certainly didn't help.

One day I finally came to the breaking point of utter stress and exhaustion. I was

stationed at the drive-through window and my feet were aching as always. I had been

standing in the same spot for over five hours because of the continuous line of cars

coming through. I tried to hold back the tears that began welling up in my eyes but I

couldn't hold in my misery any longer. "I have never felt so depressed and exhausted in my

entire life!" I realized. Something needed to change, but what could I do? I needed this job

and there were no other options for employment. My feelings and complaints seemed

validated based on my situation but what did that really do for me? "I can't change my

environment," I acknowledged, "but something has to change!" I knew I couldn't bear to

continue living my life feeling the way I did.

I knew that in reality my problems were not that bad in comparison to most people in

the world. Knowing this didn't really change my attitude except to make me feel guilty for

feeling bad. “I really am grateful for a job –even if it is a crappy one” I noted to myself “But

how can I find joy and fulfillment while being here?” I was at a total loss, helpless to change

my mindset. Reaching what seemed like the breaking point I felt the need to look to a

higher power. I closed my eyes and then breathed a silent prayer, "God, please help me see

things the way you do." That was it. The words were so simple but in my desperation for

change my heart was sincere. I opened my eyes and instantly felt the affects of that short prayer. Everything around me

seemed to have changed! "No," I realized. "My surroundings haven't changed at all, it's me

that feels different!" It was if the dark lenses of negativity that had once covered my eyes

were now gone. Everything I looked at around me seemed brightened in color. Taking a

deep breath, I turned to look outside my little drive-through window. The automatic

window opened and a gentle breeze swept in. I felt a peace in my spirit that I couldn't even

describe. "Amazing!" I thought as I gazed in awe of the sky filled with giant clouds gently

floating by. I was instantly energized by this new sense of wonder. "How did I not see this

before?" The beautiful scene had been before me the whole time but I hadn't taken the time

to notice it. I realized it was one thing to "see" something and an entirely different matter to

fully appreciate it. I exclaimed internally with the realization of how this appreciation

affected me. My spirit was soaring! I had a fresh supply of energy and my physical pain had

all but disappeared.

It became clear to me now that no matter where I was there was always

something to focus on that could bring me joy. I had been drug out of my drudgery

by the light of a newly positive perspective. It was a seemingly simple solution to

my problems but one that really seemed to work! I finally felt I had the answer to

not only enduring, but also thriving anywhere I would go life. "If I can find happiness

while standing at a drive-through window at McDonalds," I thought, "I can be happy

anywhere!" I began a new life journey challenging myself to find something good in

every situation and to dwell on that thing. I continued to feed my mind a happy

meal of thoughts and my personality, as well as my outlook on life and view of

people changed for the better, forever.

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