Friday was a momentous day for me. I signed the papers to officially quit working at In N Out. Granted, I hadn’t actually worked a shift there in about 6 months, but I had been putting off making it official. Signing those papers marked the end of an era. Well, hopefully it marked the end of an era. I thought I had ended that era in 2007 but I found myself right back in the In N Out universe a year later. But this time, I really think I’m done. My reign at the golden arrow is over.
In order for you to truly understand what In N Out means to me, I’m going to have to give you a little background story. I started working at In N Out my senior year of high school. It was my first official job and I was incredibly excited…and nervous! Everything was so loud, fast paced and crazy, but I loved it. I stayed at that first store for a year and half and met some incredible people there. One of those people, one of my bosses actually, would actually become my husband some day. Scandalous, right?
I stayed at that store through my freshman year of college. In a time when I was transitioning from high school to college, changing friends, growing up and finding out who I was, In N Out was one of the constant things in my life that I knew I could count on. Plus, working for In N Out taught me how to be a great employee. My parents taught me to work hard, show up on time, follow the rules and be a leader in the workplace. In N Out reinforced that good work ethic by rewarding me for it. Learning the importance of hard work and a positive attitude has benefited me in all my subsequent jobs. I really don’t think I would be as successful as I am today without having worked at In N Out.
When I moved on campus my sophomore year of college, I kept working for the company but transferred to a different store. This store seriously had the most insane customers ever. It was located right on the border of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. For those of you who have never lived in the OC, you need to know that Costa Mesa is a lower socio-economic city with a rather large homeless population and quirky culture. Newport Beach is an up-tight city where the richer than rich drive around in ridiculously expensive cars and think about themselves all day.
Now imagine working in a store where you saw customers from both sides of that spectrum every day. I had to kick homeless people out of bathrooms, dodge food that crazy people threw at me, and listen to countless spoiled brats curse at me because I gave them the wrong kind of soda. But it was still a lot of fun. At that store, I learned that you just can’t let people get to you. You got it brush it all off with a laugh. Instead of viewing those interactions as offenses, I viewed them as hilarious and ridiculous stories I could later tell my friends and family. I didn’t let them get me down, instead I found a way for those crazy customers to bring me laughter.
I left that store in 2007, the same year I graduated college. I didn’t think I would go back, but a year later I found myself in need of some extra money so I started working one shift a week at the store by my parents’ house. When I got laid off from the YMCA, my In N Out store manager was incredibly supportive and gave me some more hours. Without that, Joe and I would have had to postpone our wedding. I am incredibly grateful to that manager and the ways he supported, and continues to support, Joe and me professionally.
I started working full time at my current job in September. I didn’t officially quit In N Out though because, well to be honest, I was scared. I had already quit once and had to come back. In all my other professional experience I had never worked for a company that treated me as well as In N Out did. And although my new adult career seemed to be going well, I still felt like I needed a safety net. But six months later, the safety net has come down. Things are going great at my current job, but if for some reason I lost it I have enough confidence in my professional skills that I’m sure I could find another job in the field. I’ll never again have to ask “would you like fries with that?”
I love my current job. I love that I am actually working in a field that my degree prepared me for. I am so happy to be growing up and to have an actual career instead of something that just pays the bills. But I’m not gonna lie, I miss In N Out. I miss going to Denny’s after a closing shift, I miss all the drama and inbreeding, I miss the company picnics. I miss seeing the smile on a weary travelers face as they take a break from their 10 hour road trip to enjoy a double-double. I’m sad that I’ll never again make an out of state customer super excited by serving them their first In N Out cheeseburger. Granted, Joe still works for the company so I get to stay connected that way, but it’s not the same. No matter where I go in life or what I become, I will always remember every moment spent at the Golden Arrow and be thankful for the things it taught me.