“We’re going to need to see your birth certificate,” the manager said, making a notation on my employment application, “But you’re hired. Show up a 10 a.m. on Thursday for training.”
I was too young and dumb to realize he was calling my bluff. I had to be 16 to take the job and I could barely pass for 14 (which I wouldn’t be for a another month). Yet instead of pointing out that I was lying about my age (which, obviously, I was), he figured he’d mark me down in the hired column and assume I’d be one of the dozen new people to not show up for the first day of work.
But I did show up, because I had nothing better to do. I was spending the summer with relatives in Houston, and to get me out of the house my aunt suggested I apply at McDonald’s. A new franchise had just opened and hiring almost anyone who applied. Fast-food outlets have a high worker turnover and new stores have any higher rates of attrition. The hiring manager knew he’d need to hire at least three times as many people they knew that most people wouldn’t last more than a week before getting quitting.
And that’s how I got my first factory job.