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Lessons from a Burger Boy
I learned some life lessons that would later serve me in my career. 5/21/2018 | Bill Petrie, Petrie's Perspective
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Like many, I worked to help pay for college and for a good portion of that time, I worked at a not-so-tr endy fast food place called Burger Boy.  Just off the north side of the Texas A&M campus, it featured the usual fast food grub that college kids need such as tater tots, deep fried chicken things and, of course, hamburgers.  Your hero in this little story was hired to deliver said delicacies to hungry people on and off campus.  Not so bad, you say!  Well, here’s the rub:  I had to deliver this “food” on a 1950’s style bicycle with a milk basket strapped to the front. 

At first, it wasn’t so bad.  I would go to work at around 4:00 in the afternoon and deliver until the store closed at midnight.  At times, I probably rode over 20 miles a night due to the size of the A&M campus, but there were other benefits besides the exercise: not only could I now get rejected for dates while I was working, but I could “liberate” a tater tot or four on my way to making deliveries.  Hey, a bicycle delivery boy needs his carbs to successfully complete his rounds.

Everything was going just fine until my friends realized that I had to ride by our dorm on the vast majority of my deliveries.  At first, they would congregate on the balcony and hurl insults at me, but that quickly graduated to hurling projectiles in the following order:

  • Various bric-a-brac (crumpled paper, pens, pencils, etc.)
  • Teddy Grahams
  • Empty beer cans
  • Tennis balls
  • Tennis balls sprayed with Lysol and set on fire before launch
  • Water balloons
  • Pudding (yes, pudding) balloons - chocolate was the favorite for obvious reasons

I can remember several times where an object would hit my shoulder and I would turn to look only to see the warming blue flame of Lysol on my bright yellow delivery shirt.  But, I was young and needed the money so I could deal with a few of my fellow dorm buddies tossing flaming projectiles in my direction.

Looking back on my time working at Burger Boy, I learned some life lessons that would later serve me in my career:

1. No Excuses – When delivering hamburgers to hungry students, they don’t care if the store is busy, the weather is bad, or if the bike has a flat tire. All they care about is getting their food on time. Promotional products clients are no different as they don’t want to hear about inventory issues, delivery challenges, or errors due to internal operations. All they want is their merchandise decorated and delivered as promised. Should something go wrong, the buck needs to stop with you. 

2. Attitude for Gratitude – No one wants to have food delivered by a grumpy person with pudding stains on his shirt. I found the more positive and happy I was when delivering meals, the better tips I received. In the business world, attitude plays an enormous part in success or failure. When I have a negative attitude, I generally get negative results. Conversely, when I exude happiness and positivity, good things tend to happen.

3. Time is Money – I learned very early on that the faster I delivered hamburgers and tots, the more money I made. Time is the greatest asset any of us truly possess which makes it a crime to waste. By focusing on the task at hand – whether delivering food or developing presentations – efficiencies are created that allow far more productivity in a given amount of time.

Sadly, my burger delivery career was tragically cut short due to injury.  I was delivering a chicken fried steak sandwich to the south side of campus when a remote-controlled car ran in front of my bike tire.  I attempted to hit my brakes and swerve out of the way but my front tire hit the mini-car squarely, stopping the bike in its tracks.  Unfortunately – and predictably – I didn’t stop along with my bike as I was launched (along with the previously mentioned chicken fried steak sandwich, tater tots and sweet tea) about 15 feet, landing on the sidewalk. Besides the ruined food, the accident resulted in a deep bone bruise on my kneecap and a grade 1 MCL sprain.

By the time my knee healed enough for me to resume my delivery career, I had graduated from college and moved on to the real world. I did, however, take many lessons from my time delivering hamburgers on a bike that continue to give me pause to think – including that it’s better to find a delivery route that doesn’t consistently pass your dorm.

Bill is president of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing service provider to the promotional products industry, and has over 17 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products distributorships. A featured speaker at numerous industry events, a serial creator of content marketing, immediate past president of the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), vice president of the Regional Association Council (RAC) board, and PromoKitchen chef, Bill has extensive experience coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, and developing branding that resonates with a target audience. He can be reached at bill@PromoCorner.com.

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