The Closing of Carrols: Food for Thought
Some of you may find it strange that there's an article about the closing of a Carrols in Better Than Sliced Bread. How on earth could this be relevant or interesting in any way to the average English student? Well, as an average English student (read: one who participates in a bit of studying, and a lot of drinking), I can say that the closing of a Carrols had far more of a profound effect on me than one would expect. Then again, this isn't just any Carrols I'm talking about. This was my job for almost four and a half years. That's longer than my university career thus far! However, most of you are probably still wondering why I would choose to write about the closing of a fast food restaurant. The thing is, I'm not really writing about the closing of a fast food restaurant; I'm writing about the bittersweet feelings that arose upon its closing and the experience I had working there. As I said, I worked at the Carrols in Iso Omena for over four years which means I got to become very familiar with the work and with the people. Several months after the end, I can still tell you exactly how to make an Iso Carolina hamburger and I could probably even recite to you the long list of tasks waiting for the workers at closing time. These are things I did over and over and over again for several years and it probably won't come as a surprise that these tasks became rather tedious over time. In fact, if I am to be completely honest, there were days where I felt like I could do without ever seeing another hamburger again. What made it even more difficult at times were the rude and sometimes difficult to satisfy customers that clearly had never worked in customer service before and seemed to think that they were better than all of us. By the end of my Carrols career, I was starting to feel burnt out by the work and I decided not to be transferred to a Hesburger even though I had the option.
Having said all of this, you must be thinking that I couldn't have been happier about the closing of Carrols. However, in truth, I can still remember the shock I felt when I first heard that our Carrols was closing. Actually, what sticks with me even more is how surprised I was at the feeling of remorse I had. It was truly bizarre at the time but, in retrospect, it was completely natural. This is because, despite the fact that the work itself was sometimes tedious and undesirable, the people that I worked with couldn't have been more fun. When we found out that our Carrols was closing, I think I can safely say that most of us weren't as upset about losing our jobs as we were about losing our coworkers. It wasn't long until jokes started to be made about opening up a burger-stand outside of Iso Omena where we could all continue to work together. More ambitious plans included us all moving to some place in South America where we would start our own burger restaurant. To be honest, if we all had the money, I would not be all that surprised if we were to actually to do that; we were a rather eccentric bunch. And when I say that we were eccentric, I truly mean that. To this day, I can not hear “Circle of Life” from The Lion King without thinking of my coworkers or that one fall afternoon when we played nothing but Disney music in the kitchen. On the last day of work, during our last “LP” (a post-closing smoking break), we each had a glass of champaign and actually placed funeral candles outside of our building. To continue the death theme, we had a funeral-themed party for our Carrols a couple of weeks after we served our last customer (for the record, I got the honor to serve the last customer of Iso Omena's Carrols) and, in one of the most touching displays I've ever seen, several of my coworkers openly wept as we parted ways.
This might all seem very strange to you, but I hope it doesn't. Most, if not all of you, have at one point worked at a job you really did not enjoy, and you'll probably do so again in the future. There is the unfortunate reality that, at the end of the day, work is supposed to be work and this point is driven home particularly strongly on certain nights. However, if my experience at Carrols has taught me anything, having the right mindset can turn a mediocre experience into something absolutely great. How is it that a bunch of people working at what is essentially a fast-food place became so fond of it that, in the end, we were all singing along to Don Henley's bittersweet “Boys of Summer” with our own version of “Boys of Carrols”? As is so often the case, the answer is actually incredibly simple: we all enjoyed the hell out of each other. During the lazy and quiet days, we'd stand around and chat about whatever came to mind. During the crazy and hectic days, we'd steal glances at each other and laugh because what else could we do? Going into my Carrols job back in 2007, I can't even remember what I expected; probably not much. In the end, I can say at least two things: 1) everyone should have to work in customer service at least once in their life (it's not as easy as it looks, people); and 2) try your best to get along with your coworkers because they can actually make you miss working at a fast-food place.