The day was July 11th, 2015.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the summer after my freshman year of college, and I was working at the newly opened 7-Eleven in my hometown while I also worked at Fordham's radio station. I didn't exactly see my future being a 7-Eleven franchise manager, but I wanted some extra money, it was three blocks from my house, and I thought it would be an easy gig.
I thought wrong.
As you may know, 7-Eleven offers free slurpees to customers every July 11th. Now a fun little fact: 7-Eleven is not named after July 11th at all. It’s named that because when they first existed, their operation hours were 7 AM – 11 PM. Now, they’re all open 24 hours, 7 days a week. End of fun fact.
My first few weeks on the job were relatively easy. Since I knew this job was not going to be more than 6 weeks, I had little motivation to bust my ass and move up the corporate ladder. I did the jobs I wanted to do (refill coffee machines). I didn't do the jobs I didn't want to do (make that gross fucking food). I worked the shifts I wanted (7 AM-3 PM or 3 PM-11 PM) and told them I couldn't work the overnight (11 PM-7 AM) shift. The reason? I didn't want to, but was also afraid to be robbed at gunpoint.
We would get our shift schedules a week in advance on a piece of paper taped to the refrigerator in our back room. That week, I saw I was scheduled to work from 7 AM – 3 PM on Saturday, July 11th. “Buckle up, Tommy Boy,” I thought to myself. “You’re in for the experience of a lifetime.” I woke up that Saturday morning prepared for a challenge that I knew would harden me and finally turn me into a man.
It started off slow in the morning, but then the rush came. It was a blistering 98 degree day and people wanted their free frozen drinks. To make matters worse, the AC in our store broke so I was sweating bullets. (That part of the story might be a lie. I've just told myself it's true through the years to make the story better, but I'm pretty certain it was functioning flawlessly).
These primitive savages came in hordes, flocking immediately to the slurpee machine located on the far side of the store. Now, it’s important to note that not every slurpee is free. The only free ones are a very small cup. Not everyone knows this. Some would fill up a large cup and assume that it’s free, so I’d have to stop these potential thieves. Other rude folk would walk right in and right out without even acknowledging me or my fellow co-workers. Not a "Thank you for doing what you do." Nothing.
Now you may be wondering, "Tommy, what exactly did you have to do?" What didn't I have to do would be the better question. But basically, I was working the register and just had to to track how many free slurpees were given away. People came in, filled them up themselves, and walked out unless they were buying other stuff. I had to press a button on the register to mark every time a person left with one. Some would shoot me a nasty look when I asked them to hold up for a second so I could see how many cups they were leaving with.
Selfish. Rude. Monsters.
This went on for hours. Sweat dripped down my face. I melted as the sun beamed through the window next to the register. And if you thought things couldn't get any worse, the slurpee machine eventually went out. It’s one of those things I refused to ever learn how to fix. Seemed like it was too complicated and involved too much manual labor. So I did what all great leaders do. I delegated for someone else to fix it.
Finally, the clock struck 3 PM. I closed out my register and took the five minute walk home. I walked into 7-Eleven that day as a boy. But after that eight hour shift, I left as a man.
So if you go into 7-Eleven for your free slurpee today, don’t be afraid to thank them for their service and maybe give them a hug. I know they’ll appreciate it.