NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It used to be a right of passage to work at a fast food restaurant as a teenager but times have changed and many teenagers try their hardest to avoid having to sling burgers and fries. The jobs instead are held by adults who try to support their families on minimum wage while working 40 hours or more.
Employment at so-called fast-food restaurants were intended to be a low paying, entry level position aimed at teenagers in need of that first job. Most viewed the work as temporary, a means to an end.
These days those same jobs are held by workers who remain in fast-food for years. Not surprisingly, these workers want more money, a wage level that will allow them to their support families above the poverty line.
The multinational fast-food restaurant corporations argue that these jobs don't warrant wages higher than current levels. Here at TheStreet many of us worked those low paying jobs. These are the stories of those who have been on both sides of the counter.
My first job was at McDonald's (MCD) in Beaumont, Texas. It was 1977 and I got paid a whopping $2.30 an hour. It was probably the most physically demanding job I ever held. Eight-hour shifts with a 20 minute break. I wore a lime green polyester pant suit that was hideous and retained the smell of grease. The work itself wasn't difficult, but the long hours and low pay was enough to make me look for something else. The worst memory was burning my hand badly at the fry station and having to finish my shift as the heat lamp continued to burn my hand. The best memory was working the drive through and talking in funny voices over the intercom to people when they were ordering. No, it doesn't take much to entertain a sixteen year old.