Lessons from the Good Ol’ DQ: Perseverance
As I share stories about the DQ and the lessons learned, I’ll share some stories others will know and other stories no one has a clue about. This story is one of those stories – I don’t think I have ever told anyone this story. Also when I reference people from the DQ, particularly when it could be seen as being critical of them, I am going to use just their first initial or two.
This lesson begins right at the beginning. I was excited when I received a call from ja. at the DQ. I was a little surprised that I was called by a different DQ then I applied at. Nonetheless I had a job interview from the first place I applied for a job! I went into the interview, and I went through all the questions. I don’t mean to sound proud, but I remember the interview being fairly easy. In all essence – it should be easy. It’s an entry level job doing fast food. When the interview was pretty much done, I was asked if I have any question by Ja. who was interviewing me. I actually did, and I proceeded to ask if I could have Sunday mornings off work so I could go to church. The answer was ‘no problem’. There shouldn’t be a problem either. In Canada the employer needs to accommodate religious beliefs as long as it is not unreasonable or to difficult to accomodate. I was thrilled. I had a job and basically been told there were no issues and I could still go to church.
The next week or so I had my first shift on Wednesday night. The shift ran from 5-8 pm. A basic first shift where they could do training. Back in the day training was to throw the new person into the fryer and see if they could survive. Well not literally into the fryer (except that one time…. But that is another story). I did okay my first shift. The job itself is easy, but what makes it difficult is doing that job quickly. Every new employee has to get used to the pace of DQ! Before they can be successful. But I learn how to load the Neico (a large bbq like machine that toasts buns and cooks frozen beef patties – very cool machine) and I learned how to box up fries. The fries are easy to box, but learning to get the weight correct is difficult. If I remember it had to be 3.5 oz for a small fry, and at that time, 5 oz for a large. It takes some practice but after a bit it is easy to do.
So I survived my first shift and then looked at the schedule. Someone had made a mistake – my only other shift was for Sunday morning. That was strange! So I went and found Ja. And said the schedule had a mistake and that I was scheduled for a Sunday morning. Ja said something about ‘oh yeah’ and went back and deleted it off the schedule. So I was short a shift, but still had my Sunday free.
Now that left me with one shift that week for 3 hours. At the time minimum wage was $4 if you were under 18. So that week I had made $12. To many that may seem hardly worth it, however remember I had been doing papers before. I made S25-30 every two weeks and had been getting up at 5 am to deliver them 6 days a week. To me $12 for 3 hours of work was an improvement.
I stopped in at the DQ on the weekend again to see when I worked the following week. Wednesday night 5-8 pm again was there, and then I looked over to the next weekends schedule and there it was. Again. Sunday morning from 11 am to 5 pm. Hmmm. That seemed strange to me but being the optimist, I assumed it was an innocent mistake. So I talked to Ja again. Now Ja. Had a way of expressing his real feelings on his face while saying other things with words. I didn’t know that at the time, but I believe this was one of those situations. Ja. Said ‘okay’ and then deleted the Sunday shift again, looked at me and walked away.
The next week, the same thing had happened. I was once again scheduled for Wednesday night 5-8 pm and Sunday morning. I remember thinking this was getting silly and a bit stupid. I wasn’t sticking to my guns to make a point or to be stubborn, but I had been told it was okay to have Sunday mornings off. So I talked to Ja again. He walked over to the schedule and erased Sunday again and walked off after shaking his head at me. I was relatively happy though.
The next week I looked at the next schedule again starting at Sunday morning…. I wasn’t on it! Yeah! Finally things had been figured out but I looked and I had just one 5-8 shift on Wednesday night. I was the only one on the whole schedule like that. I found it strange, but I was satisfied.
Then week after week I kept being schedule 5-8 on Wednesdays. At first it seemed strange, but eventually it hit around three months. This was getting a bit silly. I was the only one being treated this way. In some way I knew this was connected to the Sunday morning request. I wasn’t sure how or why, but it was. So I decided to not give Ja. The satisfaction of quiting and kept with it…. After all it was still better than doing papers and I had my weekends free!
I persevered and finally after 3 or 4 months (actually it was at least 3 or 4 months, but think it may have been 6 but since I’m unsure I didn’t want to stretch the truth!) I was finally scheduled for a weekend shift on a Firday night, and on a Saturday morning! It continued that way for a long time. In hind sight the 3 hour work week was nothing. But it was something. I also learned lessons from it.
- I learned to persevere. Was it wrong to keep scheduling me on Sundays? Was it an injustice? I won’t say that because it pails compared to real injustice. It was just who Ja. was. He didn’t like people telling him how to do things and he wanted to prove to me who was in charge. He was. I wasn’t. His approach to showing that was wrong though and I stuck with it. I persevered.
- A lot of people use the word discrimination very easily. Had I been discriminated against based on religious beliefs? Technically yes on one level. But on the reality level I didn’t suffer any hardship from it. I would say I suffered the ignorance of Ja. I will not call my ‘suffering’ (for lack of a better term) discrimination and dishonor those who truly suffer on a day to day basis.
- wanted me to know DQ was a priority over church and that I better get on board. He didn’t say it, but he showed it. Those scheduling of Sundays were no accident by Ja. Ja. did not make those kind of mistakes. He was intentional and methodical, while also arrogant and self centered. He knew what he was doing when he scheduled me on Sundays. I realized that very quickly.
- The 3 hour shift a week was designed to get me to quit. I am positive of that now. Having done scheduling, and worked with staff, it is the only explanation I have for why that happened. But I stuck with it. However I decided to not give satisfaction to that person. That is a lesson I learned that I still hold onto today. There are people out there who don’t care about you and want only what is best for them. I will stick with things through that, not to spite them, but because as I persevere I believe I grow.
- I learned there was give or take. While I was at DQ I worked several years with no Sunday mornings. When I was much more proficient at my job and ran the kitchen I was asked one day if I could work a Sunday morning. The answer was quick and clear – Yes. Surprise you? They respected me and my Sunday mornings so much I knew they were only asking because they needed me to do something. And they were asking! Over 8 years at DQ I worked 5 Sunday mornings that I can remember. I recognized that they respected my faith, I needed to respect them as my employer. Anytime I was asked I was happy to work a Sunday morning to help them out in a difficult spot.
So the big lesson is much bigger than me or DQ. Perseverance is usually something we are forced into. A sick child, a time of unemployment, a broken relationship. Those are things we persevere. Dairy Queen taught me how to persevere. I hae watched friends journey through difficult times watching children in the hospital for extended periods. I have seen people handle unemployment with grace and faith in difficult circumstances. I remember at university a sungle mom getting schooling so she can better provide for her family despite how hard it was to work, do school and be a single parent. My perseverance at DQ really was not much of anything. But I learnt what perseverance was and can identify when it is needed and what it looks like.
So if I had not persevered through that ‘difficult’ time at DQ I would not have known the blessings of the years that followed. Was it difficult really? Was it something to really persevere? For a 16 year old kid absolutely. It was learning about the reality of the world and things are not always easy. Doing half a shift a week left me behind the rest in terms of learning how to work at DQ. I have no illusions that my struggle pales in comparison to many many people. But nonetheless it was perseverance to stick through it. I learnt that when one perseveres what comes out of it is blessings.
Many of you reading this will be aware that I’m a pastor. That little teen age kid who didn’t want to work Sundays became the one who leads the services on Sunday. I think it’s pretty cool. As a pastor I encounter all sorts of people day in and day out who have had to learn to persevere. I can tell you those who persevere best do so with the foundation of faith even in the most extreme circumstances. I also encounter people who can not persevere in the least trying of circumstances. I look at these lessons, particularly as I watched friends and church members die of cancer while persevering a horrible disease, watching their families persevere along side them, and I am thankful for how my time at DQ started. I’m thankful for learning about perseverance so I could recognize it easier in the world around me.