First jobs suck

Thu 28 August 2008

While in High School, I took a part time job at the local AMC. In retrospect, I should have left after the first day, which they seemed to have timed with the release of Star Wars: Episode I. The lines were massive and paperwork was set aside to have their ten new hires push popcorn. This sort of emergency mode was constant and I now recognize it as a red flag of terrible jobs.

AMC is located in Kansas City, so it makes the local news when AMC is fined for violating child labor law. I'm not very surprised they got hit; the theaters are mainly operated by kids and overseen by community college students. The papers are citing trash compactors and late hours; I know both such things happened during my tenure. It's a bit of a surprise to me that compactors are age restricted -- it's almost impossible to get injured with the one I used. Late hours for 14 and 15 year olds was more a problem of enforcement than deliberate evil; management assumed they'd actually leave when scheduled to, which didn't always happen. I recall two instances of managers visibly frustrated when one of them forgot to clock out; but clearly not frustrated enough to stop hiring them. I'm not sure what their solution will be; fire any such person who doesn't clock out and leave in time?

The real WTFs though aren't published in the papers. Federal law exempts movie theaters from overtime, have no break required (but few do). Honestly, while it was a surprise to discover, overtime was never a big problem (Kansas law places overtime at 46 hours and has no theater provision). But the no dinner part always was. Working 8 or 9 hours on your feet without food was full of suck, and probably motivated a lot of consession stand theft. I find it a bit unfortunate that AMC has paid a fine rather than significantly improve their workplace.

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