I recently paid a visit to my local Burger King.  Since I hadn’t been there in a year or two, I had no idea what was on the menu.  After waiting in line for a few minutes, we finally got close enough to the menu board to see what they had.  It seemed that nothing much had changed.  They had the usual stuff plus a few salads and new dessert items.  As I looked at the cashier who was waiting for me to order, I realized that he was looking at me like I was a complete moron.  He huffed and puffed a little as he waited, but then – to my surprise – he actually rolled his eyes at me.  It was as if I could read his mind, and he was most certainly saying, “Hurry the %&*# up!!!”

I stood there for a second, totally shocked that he would be so blatantly rude to me.  Luckily, as I have grown older and wiser, I have learned to not say aloud what I am actually thinking.  If I had said what was really on my mind, it might have been, “What’s your big hurry?  Got somewhere to be?”  But instead, I ordered my Whopper with cheese and diet coke; I went to my table to wait for my order number to be called.

Once my order was ready, I proceeded to the counter to pick it up and was once again greeted with a dirty look from this disgruntled Burger King employee.  I started to doubt myself.  Did I do something wrong?  Did I unintentionally commit some act that made me deserving of his behavior?

It was then that I realized that this was just a typical low-wage worker who hates his job.  I have dealt with this type of person many times, and you can find them in any low paying “profession.”  Of course, they are working for minimum wage and hate it….and I don’t blame them.  However, this is where hating one’s low-wage job may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Let me explain.

The Low-Wage Cycle

Let’s say that you are working at Arby’s earning minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.  Even if you are working a full 40-hour week, you only earn about $290 per week before taxes.  I cannot possibly imagine trying to live off of this type of wage, especially while trying to raise a family.   (But, for the sake of this example, just try to imagine it.)

So, here you are, working away at Arby’s making roast beef sandwiches and curly fries.  Sure, it smells good, but it gets old quick.  You come home each day greasy and unkempt.  Your miserable paycheck does not even come close to covering your expenses, and you begin to hate your job.  With each passing day you begin to hate your job more, and it shows.  You begin to treat customers as if they are purposely trying to annoy you by visiting your establishment.  You may even huff and puff and roll your eyes at some random nice people who – God forbid! – happen to want a Beef-n-Cheddar and some curly fries.  Due to your lack of customer service skills, you never get promoted.  You also don’t get to work the shift and hours that you prefer.  Basically, you are at the bottom of the barrel – leading you to hate your job even more.

This is how hating your low-wage job becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Hating your job leads to bad work performance, which in turn leads to not getting promoted…which leads to being stuck hating your low-wage job.  It’s as simple as that.

Fortunately, if you are stuck in a low-wage job that you hate, I have great news for you.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Only you have the ability to perform well at your job.  Only you can change your attitude and the way that you treat other people.  And, you never know…we’ve all heard stories of employees who started as cashiers for various companies only to work their way through the ranks until they were finally CEO.  Chances are, if you visit your local McDonald’s, you will find a manager who started as a burger flipper or order taker.  I even know a few people personally who have defied the odds and achieved a very successful career in a typically low-wage profession.  However, it is unlikely that anything will change unless you do.

Try breaking free from the cycle. Pick up some new skills, teach yourself a side gig, or start a blog. Until then, you may just be stuck in an endless cycle of hating your low-wage job.