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Most of us who were 90’s teens remember Calvin. We watched Calvin grow over a few years as he progressed from a young kid looking forward to his new job at McDonald’s to ultimately working his way up to manager. When I ask, “Where is Calvin?” I am figuratively speaking.

Calvin Pic

My family and I had the opportunity to live in Japan for three years. What we were astonished to experience was how Japanese employees working at McDonalds had a great sense of pride in their job. Their uniforms were pristine, the restaurants were clean enough to eat off of the floor and most importantly they made their customers feel that they were so grateful to serve them. Oh, and did I mention that the burgers tasted far better than the restaurants in the U.S.? What’s wrong with this picture?

Japan McDonalds

I remember when I was in high school, having any type of honest paying job was respectable for a teenager by adults as well as their peers. Today, working at some place like McDonalds is considered shameful and/or embarrassing. Teens have no sense of customer service, work atmosphere decorum or a sense of pride in their work. I see more gum smacking, cell phone using, pants sagging teenagers that could care less if they get your order right or who take their jobs seriously. Of course there are some teens who do not fit this category. Unfortunately, I can count on one hand how many I have run across in the last several years.

The Calvin commercials were a hopeful display of youth aspiring to be something and be somebody important. It signified a great pride in being productive and the aspiration to be greater than the present. I WANT CALVIN BACK to give our kids hope again and prayerfully inspire them to want something out of life and to take pride in small strides toward “that great life achievement” of being one’s best.

I want employers to have greater expectations of our kids regardless of where they work and challenge them to a greater standard than what we see today. I don’t care if you start off as a street sweeper or custodian, have a sense of pride in a job well done. Do your best and be your best — you never know who’s watching. You cannot allow them to come to work dressed inappropriately or talk to the customers any kind of way.  Teach them recyclable skills that will help them grow and develop as a professional.

Group of businesspeople standing.

I got my first job at the age of 16 working at Lerners New York on Canal Street in New Orleans. I was the youngest employee in our store. My manager was Kim Joseph who is now deceased. When I worked at Lerners, Kim had no less expectation of me than she did our 60+ year old assistant manager who affectionately referred to me as “little one”. I had to pull my weight like everyone else. I had to come to work dressed properly. I had to show up on time. I was expected to deliver exceptional customer service. I learned so many valuable job skills that I still use today. That job inspired me to want to do something meaningful with my life. And it all started with a manager who use to drive me nuts by kicking my butt to do my best and I am forever grateful. While she died in her 30’s of cancer several years ago, I wish she could be alive today so that I could tell her a simple thank you. I would say to Kim Joseph, thank you for commanding nothing less than excellence from me and instilling in me actionable experience that allowed me many subsequent employment successes.

If we don’t have expectations of our youth today, there is no hope for a better tomorrow. We have to demand more of our youth so that they can make a significant mark on this world that will propel it and them forward. We should not allow there to be a constant maintenance of stagnation and ignorance in our youth that only leads to increased drop out rates, unwanted pregnancies, low wage jobs, public assistance and overpopulated prisons.


Blessings and Inspiration,

Shannon Ayers Speaks