As if the aesthetically pleasing Acai bowl promotions on every vegan’s instagram, unsettling documentaries featuring fluffy chicks on a conveyor belt (thank you, Mrs. Biziewski), and statements that equated teen fry cooks to “cheap labor” during the recession weren’t fatal enough for Gen-Z’s perception of the fast food industry, a fourth horseman has joined the apocalypse against Colonel Sanders reputation. Job applications from students- once the primary demographic for McDonalds workforce- continue to dwindle nationwide with each passing summer and hiring season, leaving managers of chain-restaurants to wonder, “Where have all the Teenagers gone?” Despite a plethora of media reports regarding the phenomenon, none have reported why teens are abdicating America’s ancient work-force rite of passage. Though us post-millennials haven’t strayed too far to be found, Venice High Students are here to spare you from the search.
In an environment that has rendered higher education to be imperative, you can find academically driven youth hard at work in their guidance counselor’s office in lieu of the kitchen, where they plan how to balance lacrosse, two clubs, an IB schedule, 100 hours community service, solve world hunger and write an admissions/scholarship essay about all of the above. Bethany Newcomb, a Senior and University of Louisville Rowing commit, is one of many well-rounded students’ who can corroborate the evidence, “I have crew practice from 3-7 each day, conditioning after- some of my teammates wake up at 4 am to work on their technique even more- and then most of us have hours of AP or DE homework to complete,” the former Pine View student yawned, “between a job and a full ride to a University that ranks D1 for rowing, there is no contest.”
Of course, that only accounts for the more studious teenagers, what about the our classmates with a less rigorous course load? Don’t worry, Senior and former Wendy’s fry cook Jay Kern knows exactly where they’re hiding; “Most of my old coworkers and I quit when restaurants started hiring because they give tips and actually care about our schedules” he explicated, “I’ve made more at Crow’s Nest in a week bussing tables than what I would’ve earned in a month at Wendy’s.” Considering the opportunity cost of $8 and hour to a scholarship or higher paying job, teenagers do not have to be well-versed in economic studies to know that their time is money. Nonetheless, as most employees leave chain establishment conditions for independent restaurant pay during their senior year, it is plausible that their required economics course has played a role in the revolution. Senior Jake Magnusson illustrated his instance of enlightenment, “When Mr. Marshall told our class that the market was good enough to ask our managers for a raise or leave, you could tell who worked for minimum wage by the look on their face.” The concept of market value is painfully apparent to today’s High School students; we forgive pre-recessionary graduates that are ignorant of EverFi’s righteous scripture.
Consider Bethany and Jay’s sentiments as a caveat: if franchise owners continue to follow The Hamburglar’s morale, they will sooner resemble Ronald “The Clown” Mcdonald under abandoned golden arches. Disadvantaged and overworked youth are ready to order- hopefully, these companies will deliver better working conditions to them with service and a smile.