Everyone should spend some time working a minimum wage service-level job.
Otherwise, the hard work of minimum wage workers fails to be recognised. Subsequently, as a customer this individual cannot empathize with their cashiers in shops, their waiters in restaurants and the millions of individuals working in minimum wage service-level jobs.
Without this empathy, when something goes wrong this type of customer becomes very challenging for the employee to cope with. This customer also misses out on the many lessons gained from working these jobs.
Just this week, I witnessed a group of five adults shouting at my co-worker despite the fact that she couldn’t solve the issue (an issue that had arisen because of their actions). I was left wondering how they could have so little empathy and be so nasty to a young person who was just doing her job.
I have worked in three different minimum wage service-level jobs. These have all been alongside high-school or university, and the money I have earned has either been put to savings for my studies or been somewhat disposable. In these jobs I have learnt a lot from the people whom I work alongside.
My first job at age 16 was working in retail and in this job, I gained an appreciation for those whose small pay check went straight to their bills, leaving very little for their kids, and nothing for themselves. In this job I met lots of single mums who work extra shifts, sharing childcare responsibilities amongst themselves in order to earn a little more. They are some of the hardest working people I have met.
I also worked in the care sector as a child playworker at an after-school club. This job gave me an appreciation for those working in this industry; it can be a very challenging sector to work in. Despite this, it can also be a very rewarding job, regardless of how low the pay is.
This summer I am working at the Edinburgh festival as a front of house team member and whilst it has been an amazing experience and I’ve met some very lovely people, I have also met lots of challenging members of the public. This job has given me more of an appreciation for those who work anti-social shift patterns, weekends and holidays; across all sectors and industries.
In my first year at university, I met lots of people who had never worked a service-level job. I can understand that; school and extra curriculars are a big time-demand. However, this summer I have seen some who have not worked a single day in the three months since university ended. I cannot understand this. I cannot understand why someone aged 18+ wouldn’t want to gain some experience and make a little money and instead rely on their parents all summer.
At the end of the day, minimum wage jobs can be very difficult; working in one makes you appreciate how hard some people work and as a result makes you a far more empathetic customer, and overall person.