1. You learn that most people suck.
A good majority of people in this world are self-entitled, selfish, mean asshats who think the world revolves around them. The sun shines out of their ass; they can do no wrong; and your sole purpose on Earth is to help them and help them now. This can be in retail, restaurant work, whatever. These people will knock you down, yell at you, treat you like dirt, and generally throw a hissy fit that would make a two-year-old jealous when they don’t get what they want. And what can you do about it? Nothing. It’s your job to help them. I mean, you could yell back, but then you’d probably get fired. Welcome to how unfair the world can be (disclaimer: if you’re shitty at your job and not trying, you may deserve some of these things, but all of these lessons are for those that are legitimately trying to be nice and helpful in their jobs and get treated poorly anyway).
2. The awesome people in this world make up for the jerks.
Yeah, people are going to be rude to you. But then you get the people that thank you for what you do, smile, or ask you how your day is going. And the people that go above and beyond and seem like they legitimately care? I once had two random girls give me candy and a thank you note because they said people like me weren’t appreciated enough. To those two random girls: That was one of the highlights of my part-time job career. Thank you!
3. You learn humility and respect.
While you’re at that job part-time, there are people that do that work full-time, and you are no better than them because you have other goals with your life. Those full-timers have seen tons of part-time workers just like you come and go over the years. You are a guest in their home, so don’t try to step on their toes. And at the end of the day, you both have one very important thing in common: That job pays both your bills. It keeps both of you going. There’s something quite humbling to be said about that.
4. It makes you appreciative of the golden rule.
When we go out to eat as a family, my stepmom always makes conversations with our servers and tips them extremely well. “Once a waitress, always a waitress,” she tells them. In my opinion, if you work in a service job and then go expect a service elsewhere and undeservingly treat someone like shit, you are then shit. Karma, baby. That person probably has to deal with the same crap you do day in and day out, so cut them some slack. There’s solidarity among service job workers, you know?
5. It makes you tough.
You don’t get to yell back. You don’t get to seek revenge when people make you so mad your blood boils. You learn how to take a deep breath, count to ten, and let it go (or hold it until you can vent about it over drinks later). You may find it meaningless or dull just to make someone’s day a little better or easier, but hey, it’s a paycheck. Just think of the awesome stories you’ll have to tell one day. Not to mention, it could always be much, much worse.