Fast Food Education

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Next time you order fast food, think about the workers who prepare and bring it to you. Young Alex Lu says he’s learned important lessons from his co-workers.

Working at a fast food restaurant isn’t always fun. As an immigrant from China, however, I’ve come to value my part-time job for providing me a moving perspective on America.

The job itself is simple, really. What was hard to handle was the customers’ attitudes. One man yelled at us for failing to place an extra slice of pickle on his hamburger. At times, I fought the desire to talk back. But my co-workers always responded with patience because this was their livelihood.

I’ve come to have immense respect for my co-workers for showing me what it means to be American. They have an unbeatable work ethic, a tireless commitment to giving back, and gratitude despite their hardship. My boss, Diana, is a Vietnamese immigrant who came to the United States around my age and she looked out for me as if I were her own child.

They always shared what little they had. My first Christmas there, my assistant manager brought in red hot tamales. Like most of my coworkers, Jessica has a second job after her 8-hour shift and she often had dark shadows under her eyes. A dedicated mother, Jessica did everything in her power to provide her two kids with education.


Thanks to my coworkers, I know how much a person owns is not what brings them satisfaction. The America in my heart lies with these people and not with the man with the fancy car who yells at us for misplacing his pickle. The American dream is about the opportunity to work hard, pursue true happiness, and make a better future for oneself and one’s children. Above all, it’s about sharing our lives and what we have to offer with one another.

We are Chinese, Vietnamese, and Guatemalan, working for our American dream. I hope to use my education someday to help my co-workers pursue their vision of America—be it a better future for Jessica’s children or a better opportunity to engage her love of culinary arts for Diana.

With a Perspective, I’m Alex Lu.

Alex Lu is an incoming freshman at UCLA.