As soon as "the friend group", as Derek calls them, began to turn 16 one by one and get their driver's licenses, they also embarked upon that most sacred of adolescent traditions: obtaining a part-time job. (Because, you know, their parents need one MORE reminder that they're THIS CLOSE to becoming full-fledged adults...cue the inevitable maternal freak out...which--I'm giving you fair warning right now--will very likely continue almost unabated for the next year or so. Hey, you're welcome for the heads-up!)
We did find it amusing that all of these young men gravitated to one particular establishment...a local Subway shop. You see, one of them (who somehow has escaped being assigned an alias yet, so hereafter shall be known as..."Trevor") has an older brother who joined the payroll there a few years ago. He recommended Trevor...who then vouched for Lou...who in turn put in a good word for...um..."Rick". And suddenly Subway was the happening place to be--at least for newly-employed High School students from our neighborhood, anyway.
But not Derek--at least not at first--because Husband and I agreed that he should remain focused on doing well in school, especially given the dire warnings we'd (all) received about the rigors, courseload, and stresses that come along with surviving Junior year. We were leery of having him try to juggle another obligation during the academic months, so we held off until he'd safely and successfully navigated his Final Exams before pushing him to float his name in the applicant pool.
(Practically) the minute those grades were recorded, though, it quickly turned into "Okay, buddy, let's get a move on, and figure out that application process!" And how did Derek feel about this whole endeavor? Let's just say he expressed a bit of...ambivalence. On the one hand, he readily admitted--given the frequency with which he and his pals have been indulging in takeout meals lately--that he would appreciate having some income...that he was earning himself, rather than receiving handouts from the....ahem..."Bank of Mom and Dad".
However, he also confessed that he wasn't tremendously...motivated...to join the Rat Race, as it were, but would much rather maintain the Life of Teenage Leisure that he's enjoyed up to this point. And yes, he does recognize that these perspectives conflict with one another...and also that he's reached an age where he neither can nor should sponge off his parents 100%, when he's perfectly capable of contributing to his own...care and feeding. Then there's the whole "demonstrating responsibility" and "employment looks good on college applications" aspects, and blah blah blah...basically, for many reasons, it was TIME.
So one Sunday night a couple of weeks ago he and I sat down at the computer to fill out the online form--which included all of his basic descriptive and identifying information, of course, but also a lengthy survey that the two of us found utterly hi-larious. You had to respond to a wide variety of questions by selecting options ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree". Examples of what the Subway Powers That Be wanted to know included: "I get along well with others" (okay, that's falls into the realm of "understandable and relevant" for a workplace); something along the lines of "I will cut corners if necessary to get things done" (Derek and I stared at each other, dumbfounded, until he finally said, "Um...what's the right way to answer that?").
And finally, the one that cracked us up the most, "I often feel joy at work" Seriously? How many of us can honestly answer that in the affirmative? I mean, do I like my job? Sure! Do I find it meaningful and rewarding? Absolutely! But c'mon...JOY? We're not talking about pursuing your lifelong passion or aiming toward bettering the world for humankind...this is SANDWICH MAKING, for crying out loud! (Unless this IS your ultimate goal and it does bring you enormous pleasure, in which case I applaud you and am sincerely delighted that you discovered your calling. Carry on!) For your average teenager seeking entry-level work experience? It might be...a bit much...is all I'm saying...
Anyway, after we double-checked all of the details and clicked "submit", we just sat back and waited to be contacted for the next step in the hiring hierarchy. And we waited some more...listening to the crickets...nope, still nothing. And then I started wondering: when would it be appropriate to follow-up? It's been decades since my own foray into the..."restaurant environment"...so I'm not exactly sure of the protocol. After some discussion (with Derek firmly on the side of "Moooom, don't bother anyone!" and me weighing in with "Trust me, it's okay to politely ASK, honey."), I convinced him to try calling during business hours and requesting to speak to the manager (Let's see...."Irene" will do). However, when he did, no one answered the phone.
Well, fine! Since the direct approach had failed so thoroughly, our next plan of attack involved the roundabout method of...enlisting Trevor's assistance. (Poor guy, we put him on the spot--but to his credit he was very willing to help us out...maybe because we actually stopped by one day and asked him in person. And he's FAR too well-brought-up to refuse an appeal from someone's mother...) Trevor told us that Irene couldn't find Derek's electronic application, so he went ahead and resubmitted it. (Oy! The trials of the Digital Age...) In the meantime, as the other guys had previously done for one another, Trevor gave Irene a good report about Derek's ability to fulfill the duties of a Subway employee...or something like that.
As we were still twiddling our thumbs several days later, Derek finally broached the subject with me: "Do you think I should just start looking for other jobs? It doesn't seem like this is going to happen." I agreed that this was dragging on, and offered to help him search for something else that same evening...until he jogged up to me a short while later and announced, "Hold that thought--Trevor just texted me that Irene wants me to come in for an interview on Thursday."
Well, hallelujah! Since it would be Derek's very first such appointment of ANY kind, Husband immediately began peppering him with tips about questions he should anticipate, material he'd want to cover in his answers, and how he should phrase his responses. While I was like, "Um...dear? You might want to calm down...it's a temporary, part-time gig at Subway...not a career-building foray into the higher echelons of business...or whatever." My own advice to Derek was much simpler: dress nicely, arrive early, speak intelligently, answer truthfully...and be yourself. And don't worry--you're gonna do great!"
On the big day, I wished him well, requested that he text me when he was done, and crossed my fingers. Not very long after his scheduled meeting time, Derek ended my suspense by relaying the news that he'd been accepted. Yaaaayyyyy! The teenager survived his first hiring experience, and is now gainfully employed! Of course, I plied him for more details when I saw him next, but his only comment was, "Nothing happened!" Confused, I asked him to explain. He clarified, "She didn't really ask me much. I guess she just reviewed what was on my application...and took Trevor's word for it that I could do the job!" Alrighty, then...not necessarily what we expected...but fair enough!
So, to wrap this up: Derek's first official night of...sandwich creation...will be this coming Sunday. Irene said she needs evening coverage, so most of his shifts will occur during that timeframe. And as a result, (drumroll, please)...he can jump into the ranks of those who draw a regular (ish) paycheck...and watch the dough rolling in (or...as much as minimum wage will allow. Nevertheless, it's more than he makes right now, for sure!). Whoo hoo!