I began my first job in the summer of my sophomore year of high school. My Dad had been bugging me for months to find something part-time, but I hemmed and hawed enough that he finally went to a nearby business and talked the owner into giving me a position sight unseen. It was thus that I became an employee of the Gering, Nebraska Tastee Freez, a.k.a. Big T Family Restaurant. Tastee Freez was a fast-food restaurant chain that specialized in ice cream--a Tastee Freez was basically the equivalent of a Dairy Queen Blizzard. (the chain is mentioned in the John Mellencamp song Jack and Diane; according to Wikipedia, fewer than 100 of the stores still exist). My uniform consisted of a blue t-shirt, a red apron, and a very goofy looking Big T hat. I started making $ 4.25 an hour and after a year of loyal service (never missing shifts, covering for others, etc.) received a raise to $ 4.50. After taxes, social security, and deductions for food purchases (I still crave the smothered burrito platter to this day!), I probably made a little over $ 100 every two weeks. This taught me that hard work and dedication was a bad way to get ahead, probably the opposite lesson from what my Dad wanted to teach me.
Still, I loved working there because it basically comprised my entire social life for my sophomore and junior years of high school. I had moved to Gering as a freshman and left all my friends behind--that thing adults say "Don't worry, you'll make new friends" simply wasn't true in my case. But during shifts at Tastee Freez I actually fit in, had people to talk to, and honestly had a lot of fun--it was a job I actually looked forward to going to, an experience I've only had one other time in my life. I had a big crush on one of my co-workers--one really cold Winter night, she offered to drive me home--I said yes, thinking this was a great way to spend time with her, only to realize soon thereafter how terribly awkward it would be when she realized I literally lived across the street from the restaurant. On another night, drama occurred when the Assistant Manager got into a big argument with the Manager and stormed out--he later tried to open a competing restaurant in Gering called Wheezy Pete's (because his name was Pete and he had asthma) but I don't think it lasted long.
I left Tastee Freez only when the chance arose to move back to Ogallala (my hometown) for my senior year and live with my best friend. I went back and visited the restaurant a few times over the next couple of years, until one time I drove by and it wasn't there anymore.