An Old Cashier Reminisces: My Days at Chick-Fil-A

Me wearing my Chick-Fil-A work T-shirt in about 1980. (c) 2012 The Catholic Counselor Lady.

A job after school.

It was during choir practice that the director came up to me and asked if I would be interested in working at the fast food restaurant that he had just started managing. I had not thought about taking a part-time job after school prior to this. My previous employment experience consisted of helping a farmer sell produce at a fruit and vegetable stand in Western New York State.  As a new Southerner, I did not know much about the establishment called Chick-Fil-A.  I told him that I first should check with my parents.  My mother and stepfather thought that it was a great idea.  Within days I was on the schedule for about 20 hours a week which consisted of about three nights a week and Saturdays.  I soon found out that this restaurant was closed on Sundays, for observance of the Lord’s Day.

The blue goose.

At first my stepfather took me to work in his pick-up truck.  But before long my stepfather was able to find a blue Delta 88 Royale Oldsmobile for $500. Nicknamed the blue goose, this vehicle became my mode of transportation to and from school, work, and church. My stepfather put a Food Lion sticker on the back bumper that read, “Lowest Food Prices in Town.”  I remember once running into a stop sign, getting out at an intersection, and noticing not even a scratch on it. That car was made up of pure steel and nothing could dent it. As long as I wore my seatbelt, I could not get hurt. The major drawback was that it took $20 worth of gas a week. And that was back in 1979. I envied those that drove small sporty sedans. But hey, it was my first set of wheels.  So I was thankful.

Before the nugget was invented.

At my first taste of a Chick-Fil-A sandwich, I thought that it was dry. Then I experimented with ketchup, mayonnaise, and adding extra pickles. They didn’t have dipping sauces back then. Soon I was eating chicken sandwiches 3-4 times a week and liking it.  Most people end up hating the food where they work. But in my experience at Chick-Fil-A –my fondness for the sandwich actually grew more as I worked there. I ended up craving them. My family can even testify of my great appreciation for them.  Even before this blog, I raved about the sandwich for years. I saw that they were made with all natural ingredients, and that their products like sweet tea, lemonade, and meringue pie were all made from scratch.  I started working there before the nugget was invented.

I remember the day I burned a whole Henny Penny full of breasts and felt the need to tell the manager that it was my fault. I approached the situation with great dread and fear only to be told not to worry about it.  He stated that he wanted me to run the registers anyway. Back then we had to count back change manually. Fortunately, I had learned how to do that at the produce stand. No fancy cash machines there. We also had to yell the order out to the back, i.e., shout, “no pickle!”, “single!”, “double!.”  Every employee knew what those commands meant. I remember we had all kinds of customers from all walks of life. An elderly gentleman sticks out in my memory, who would order a sandwich, eat half, and ask us to keep the other half warm for him.  And this we did, almost on a daily basis. When he returned his half eaten sandwich was waiting for him.

I remember the day the manager gave us all raises. Minimum wage had increased to $4 an hour. If you are good at math you can probably guess how much I cleared after filling up the blue goose every week. But it ended up being enough to buy a couple of pairs jeans and shirts for school.  Those days it was easier to find nice fitting clothes off the sales racks. I never gained a pound from working and eating at Chick-Fil-A.

Life goes on but some things don’t change.

Before long I was off to college. The manager was kind to let me work there during summer and winter breaks.  As time went on, I moved away and my life took different turns.  Originally these food establishments were only in shopping malls. Imagine the joy I had when they opened the first drive thru and with playgrounds when my kids were born in the 1990s. You can guess what I really missed when I moved to Illinois and the joy I felt when one opened in Downtown Chicago last year in 2011. My post on Facebook stated, “Yes, it is possible for one to go home again.” Upon patronizing that particular store, I was greeted and served by very friend and courteous employees. They even checked-in on me periodically and refilled my drink as I sat in my seat. They are often seen giving out free samples of food.  One random morning they were distributing free chicken biscuits.  

When I first started at Chick-Fil-A, I was a Southern Baptist but years later I would become a Roman Catholic. One thing that remained constant is my appreciation for traditional family values, respect for the Ten Commandments, and observance of the Lord’s Day on Sundays. Some things never change. To me, it was Divine Providence to be able to work at such a place that promotes solid Christian values and love for God.  These days, when I think back and remember, I only appreciate the opportunity all the more.

The Chick-Fil-A controversy: Standing for traditional values.

According to USAToday, the president of Chick-Fil-A took a stance in being “guilty as charged” in terms of his privately owned company supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.”  These comments were originally made in an interview with Baptist Press.  Such has caused an uproar among supporters of same-sex marriage.  Some even have vowed to boycott the restaurant.

You can imagine the sadness that pierced my heart when I read the controversy over Chick-Fil-A’s recent stance promoting traditional marriage and family values. And even more deeply concerned about all of the hateful comments made towards an establishment that has always been very charitable toward persons of all backgrounds and orientations. Not everyone who ever worked there has been a practicing or even nominal Christian, even back in my day.  But in my experience and observation, all were respected and treated with dignity at Chick-Fil-A.  I noticed some people ask, “What do their values have to do with selling a chicken sandwich?” Hmm…

God bless Chick-Fil-A management for having the strength to stand by their deeply held values, even now when it is not so popular.  It’s good to hear their voice, like one crying in the wilderness.

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