Fast food families


Grace Goodson

Grace Goodson (left front) and her co-worker at Baskin Robbins manage the cash register and display the day’s bounty. Freezers full of ice cream await their scooping and readiness to serve customers.

Whether it be out of necessity or for enjoyment, many upperclassmen take on the responsibility that comes with starting their first jobs. Students like Ford Abney (12), who works at Torchy’s, start jobs in the summer between their junior and senior years.

“When Torchy’s came to Memphis, I decided I should go apply for it because I really like tacos,” Abney said. “I think a really good part about my job is I can share what I’ve loved — these beautiful tacos — with other people. … When I’m up front, people tend to tell me that I’m pouring my heart out over these tacos and I really do mean it because they’re really, really good.”

In addition to college applications and the approaching end of their high school careers, student fast food employees must cope with staff shortages as a result of the pandemic, adding more weight on their shoulders as they step up and take on more work based responsibilities.

“I think we are borderline short staffed,” Will Polzin (12) said. “A lot of the time I pick up more shifts so I can make more money and so we are not short staffed. It helps [our Chick-fil-A] function.”

Despite the added pressures, students are able to foster connections with their co-workers, developing a home away from home. Bonds like these can last a lifetime and make working a more pleasant experience and Grace Goodson (11) has found this at Baskin-Robbins.

“I love the company that I work with,” Goodson said. “I’ve said it so many times to so many friends and family. The community that I work with is very open and we have strong, meaningful conversations about politics and what’s going on in the world and how that relates to our job. I feel very connected with my work family.”

Strong workplace relationships help create a safe environment for both employees and patrons. As mask restrictions lift in some parts of the country, customers and employees alike face the decision of whether or not to wear a mask while shopping.

“In these times, we should probably just be looking out for one another in terms of keeping each other safe,” Abney said. “Even if you don’t deem there’s a threat, you can always appreciate someone trying to keep it safe.”