Senior year of high school comes with many aspirations, fears, and feelings of accomplishment. Along with those roller coaster of emotions, senior year also comes with many fees. The cap and gowns aren’t free and neither is the yearbook or the senior trip. While I could have easily asked my parents for +500 dollars, my mom decided that I had to earn it.

I began to apply to multiple jobs in Brooklyn and in the city and eventually received word of a hiring event at McDonald’s. They were hiring multiple people to different locations around the city. I went in for the interview and impressed the interviewer so much, that I got hired on the spot. They sent out an email with a spreadsheet with all new hires and their assigned stores. I look for my last name and see my new place of employment.

Kevin Perea – 1528 Broadway – Times Square, NY

Working in the flagship McDonald’s in Times Square was, to put it very simply, an experience. Tens of thousands of people come to Times Square and although the typical New Yorker thing is to hate on it, absolutely no one can deny that it’s the capital of the world.

I lasted about a year and a half at Times Square. I had graduated high school and started college, but still stuck with McDonald’s; if only for the money. The work itself was rough at times but the crew was so huge, no one had to carry a heavy workload by themselves.

Despite the hustle and bustle of work and the environment, the most interesting parts of my days involved the customers. The store would be filled to the walls with customers. People from all backgrounds and cultures waiting to get their hands on one of America’s most popular offerings. Most of the customers there were visitors from in and out of the country just trying to experience the most popular tourist destination. However, because this is Times Square, we also had to attend to some interesting characters.

My favorite story to tell about my time in Times Square was of a man who was very upset. This short, lanky guy came stumbling into the doors with dirty clothes, sunglasses, and a can of red bull. He slurred through his words and reeked of alcohol. My coworker rang his order, and I was at the front counter handing out orders. I yell out his receipt number and hand him his food. He checks in his bag and almost immediately starts to yell about how we got his order wrong. I tried to control the situation as professionally as I could, as I usually do for any conflict, but this guy just kept blabbing his mouth and insulting everyone behind the counter.

I’m the type of person that doesn’t like confrontation. I’m a firm believer that most issues can be solved through our words in a civil and peaceful manner. But on this particular day, I was in a bad mood and I didn’t have the patience to hear some drunk guy rattle off some half-baked insults.

The guy continues to shout at us until Jerome, the very cool and very big security guard arrives to escort this gentleman out. The man tries to escape the security’s grasps but he’s no match for the tank that is Jerome. Before leaving through the door, the man yells to me “I’ll see you outside then bro!”

I’ve heard that phrase so many times at work and in school, it means nothing to me. It’s something that the wannabe tough guys say to scare you, and then you don’t ever see them again. Jerome and I laugh it off and continue our business.

I clocked out at 4 in the afternoon and head downstairs to the break room. As sweaty and exhausted as I was after a grueling 8-hour shift, I had to shift my focus to my English class taking place in an hour. I change out of my McDonald’s branded button down and pants and leave the store.

I put my earbuds in my ears and look for music to play and faintly but assuredly I hear “Hey chico!” from one of the public seating areas.

Everyone yells at Times Square. It’s part of the experience. I ignore it thinking it was for someone else. The second time I heard it was from much closer and most definitely directed to me.

I take my earbuds out and turn around to find out that it was my new friend from earlier in the day.

There’s a rush going through my body when I saw it was the guy from before. I had to stay alert in case he tried to do something physical, but mostly shock ran through my body when I saw he was ready to scrap. “Did this guy actually wait for me for 4 hours to come whoop my ass?” I thought. It was a weird mix of funny and scary.

I would be lying if I didn’t say I also felt a shot of adrenaline. I don’t like violence, but this guy talked too much, and nothing would have been cooler than to see someone shut his mouth. Or maybe I felt like the tough guy that day.

The guy gets closer, and I sense that this guy doesn’t want to make friends. I’m no UFC champion, but all those karate, boxing, and wrestling lessons had to come in handy at some point, right?

I put my hands up and my sense of alertness and whereabouts are turned to 11. My new friend sees that I’m ready and begins to throw a right hand. He doesn’t extend his hand very far when Jerome comes from behind and grabs this drunk guy and pushes him onto the hard Midtown cement floor. This guy’s pride is definitely hurt, but he tries hurling himself onto me again, but just meets the brick wall that just shoved him to the floor. Finally, Jerome shoves him again and tells him to back off. Sensing that he has no chance with the 6 ft tall, 300-pound monster of a man, the drunk guy stumbles the opposite way, never to be seen again.

Jerome checked up on me, his “little amigo” as he would say, and he walked me to the 2 train that took me to City Tech. I made it to the Namm Hall unscathed.

As funny as the story would have been if I did end up fighting the guy, I see now that I let this guy get in my head. I try to deescalate any situations like this. He wasn’t the first guy and most definitely not the last guy to come along and try to start something, but this guy ended up getting on my nerves and made me lash out. After this, I learned that many people will try to bring me down to their level, and sometimes it might be tempting to respond, but it’s most important to keep your dignity and not let people get to you.