‘Single-handedly Keeping A Business Alive At 17’: Woman Reflects On What It Was Like Being ‘An Extremely Hard Worker’ For A Minimum Wage Job In High School

A TikTok user’s recollection of their high school working experience has sparked debate after going viral on the platform.

In a video with over 2.1 million views, TikTok user Haylee (@hailbango) asks, “Was anyone an extremely hard worker for their minimum wage job in highschool? Like such a good, extra worker that your manager would put you on every week with the most lazy, incompetent co-worker just because she knew that you would feel obligated to pick up their slack when they didn’t do their job?”

“Me too,” she concludes.

While data on youth work is mixed, there is some evidence to suggest that young people put in more hours at work than their older counterparts.

A 2015 survey of 1000 office workers in the United Kingdom found that “people aged 16-24 worked on average a whopping seven hours and 22 minutes extra each week,” which is two more hours a week than those over the age of 55.

Furthermore, Haylee’s comment about feeling “obligated to pick up their slack” may indicate a sense of guilt or shame that can be common amongst young workers and new entrants into the workforce. According to an article written by Julie Riggott for USC News, “the guilty are good workers.”

“Highly guilt-prone people…make valuable work partners because a concern about letting others down drives them to complete at least their fair share of the work,” writes Riggott.

On Haylee’s TikTok video, users said her experience was a common one.

“Single-handedly keeping a business alive at 17,” a top comment read.

“And then being hated for trying to speak up about them not picking up their slack,” a second stated.

Others shared specific stories from their workplaces.

“Was even told by my manager that I’m his favorite cuz I actually do work but I get paid the same as everyone else and it makes me sad,” recalled a commenter.

“When I worked 40 hours a week in [high school] at Taco Bell I would scrub walls with bleach and clean everything spotless for $7.75,” another claimed. “I wish they had paid more.”

“When it snowed and business slowed down the manager would send home everyone but me,” a third alleged. “My ‘reward’ for being the best McDonald’s worker.”

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