Vacation? More like 8 hour shifts

School breaks for many students means working longer hours

Pao Zapata

More stories from Pao Zapata

Turning 18
February 8, 2023


Senior Pao Zapata works during Spring Break post surgery. Zapata had surgery in February this year.

Working during a school break is a reality for most students. Rather than going out of state or taking a senior trip, during break, I worked a 40-hour work week like a full-time employee.   

However, working for me now is not as easy as you may think.  

In February, I was put on bed rest after receiving a bunionectomy on my left foot. This prevented me from going to school and work for two weeks, as I wasn’t allowed to put weight on it.  

Now I have a boot that prevents me from standing for extended periods, so I got the okay from my manager to sit at work while I cash out people and take drive-thru orders at my McDonald’s.  

Many customers gave me strange looks as they came through the drive-thru or have even asked me why I get to sit down. Answering their questions is something that just gets tiring after a while.

Sitting down, however, does not make my job easier or less tiring, I get off work with my back hurting so much from trying to keep my posture straight, and the greasy floors move my stool around more than I would like. Not to mention that reaching people’s hands to return their cards/change can be one of the most challenging things. Some customers like to drive up to the window far apart from me, making me stretch my arms in ways I did not even think I could.   

Working during a school break is something that I have done before, but I can say that I have never worked four eight-hour shifts in a row in this condition.   

At the start of Spring Break, right off the bat, work was very frustrating. At my McDonald’s, we had our carbonation machine spring a leak and flood the whole storage area. My managers were on phone call after phone call trying to figure out what to do until they decided to shut off the water.   

Shutting off the water meant no restrooms, no working sinks, no fountain drinks, no coffee, no orange juice, no sweet tea, no frappes, no smoothies, and no round eggs for breakfast. Customers were furious and could not understand why we could not sell them a Coke.   

It was truly one of the most frustrating shifts I have ever worked. I still do not understand why we did not close the store, but hey, I am not in charge of that.   

Serving that shift led me to believe that I could survive the rest of my spring break! But hey, at least I got to see a beautiful sunrise and my paycheck will be rewarding.