What was your first job?

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Do you remember your first job? How much were you paid? Why did you take it? Did you want the job, need the money, were you pushed into it by your parents?

-- Anonymous, April 30, 2001


My first job was as a dishwasher in a Village Inn restaurant in Lakewood, Colorado. I was a teenager visiting my mother for the summer and I really wanted to buy my first good electric guitar because the other two I already had were very low quality. So I went to work and when I had enough money I quit and bought what I wanted. It was not fun work by any stretch of the imagination.

My next job was that Christmas when I worked in a retail consumer electronics store near my house as a salesperson. I sucked at it, but we didn't have many customers so I got to play with all the cool stereo equipment and watch cartoons every afternoon... and got paid for doing it! ;-)

-- Anonymous, April 30, 2001

Yes. I was paid minimum wage to work at Kelly's Variety store for a man who hated "furriners" (what he called them), even though they were his main customers, and who did a lot of weird and unethical things like taking sample packets of cough drops that said "not for individual sale" and... marking them for individual sale. It was a really weird job. My parents wanted me to get a job, so they kind of pushed me into taking it. It made my feet hurt. There was one bathroom, used by us and the general public, and it was cleaned once a week by me and my fellow clerks. We took turns. I wasn't the manager's favorite because I wasn't cool and thin and I didn't kiss her ass (didn't know how, really, just did my work). There was one nice employee, whose name was Bob. He was another manager. He watched Wheel of Fortune every night on the little TV by the front register, and when I was in the paper much later (several jobs later) for getting a scholarship to college, he sent me a nice note.

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

When I was 12 (TWELVE) years old, I went to work for Baskin-Robbins, owned by friends of my parents. I was paid $2 an hour. They fired girls before they turned 16 so that they could avoid paying minimum wage.

At 10:00 PM in a dark strip mall, there we would be, 2 twelve year old girls serving ice cream to the kinds of people who hang out in dark strip malls at 10:00 PM. Brilliant business plan, no?

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

Cashier at KMart. Sucked big time. People are RUDE. Someone decided to stare at me though the window for 40 minutes because they were really pissed off that I had caught a price tag switch. I think they threatened my life too. I was really nice about it, non accusatory. The manager told me I could of been nicer. I quit.

Then the next lesson in humanity occurred when I was a cook at Pizza Inn. Some little weenie was wanting to make being a Pizza Inn manager his life career. So, in an attempt to appear very busy and efficient to our managers, he shut an oven door on my arm.

Thank God I finally got through college. I still get abused, but at least I get paid for it.

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

Wow, Robyn! Yikes!

I was in jr high, I think in 8th grade, so about 13 I guess. The job was at Emil's Swiss Pastry in Century City, Calif. for the two-week Christmas break. I think I was paid $80 for the whole two weeks, working M-F from 7am to 3pm or later. I got the job through my friend at school whose parents knew the owner. All I knew was they needed Christmas help, and figured I would be at the front with the customers. Instead, I wound up by myself in this little backroom which was basically a storage room. My job was to line up cookies on trays and have them ready to be slipped in to the cases up front. I was sad to discover that all these cookies arrived in boxes from New York. You've seen the cookies, leaf shaped cookies whose dough is tinted (not frosted) pink & green, flower shaped sandwich cookies..the top layer has a little whole through which you can see the raspberry jam and they're sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Anyway, Emil caught me munching on some of these little not-so-fresh- but-still-pretty-yummy-and-hell-I'm-bored cookies. He fussed a little, he was pretty nice in a mean greek sort of way. But THE BEST PART was what he did next. He took a mallet and a wedge and cut off a chunk from this HUGE slab of swiss chocolate. Being the storage room, I had already poked around and noticed these slabs, about 2 foot x 3 foot and 4 or 5 inches thick. The bakers would melt down this chocolate and use it to flavor cakes, icings, etc. So Emil hacked off a piece the size of a softball and gave it to me and warned me to stay out of the cookies. Each day after that he checked to see if I still had some chocolate, and cut me off some more if I had eaten it all. Heaven.

One night I remember helping decorate about 750 mini yule log rolls with plastic mistletoe as two drivers went back and forth between the bakery and the Beverly Hills Hotel where the logs were attending a holiday banquet. Worked until about 9pm that night and experienced my first rush of adrenaline from trying to beat a deadline. The ladies in the front were mean, most of the chefs were mean, but I was fascinated by the place...and glad to bid it adieu at the end.

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

I was a caddie at the local country club. We were paid from $3.50-$5.00 per bag for 18 holes. The best tippers were judges, senators, and the young low handicap golfers. We were well treated, and considered an integral part of the golf scene. The big perc was Monday. Monday was caddie's day. We were allowed to play the course. This was great, because the club was exclusive, expensive, and well beyond our means. I really learned a lot about golf over the course of several summers. I also learned a lot about honesty and sportsmanship. Sad to say, this job is no longer common. The powered golf cart has pretty much made caddies a relic of the past, although they are still used in serious tournaments. Golf carts are a significant source of revenue for golf clubs. I can't think of a better way to get exposed to the game of golf. It was wonderful.

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

My first job was when i was 19, i worked at a place called Hattie Larlham taking care of the more terminal children in a special wing. Hatties specialized in "special" children...i was 10$ an hr...it was a great job. I took it cuz i wanted extra money, but got alot more then money in the long run :)

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

I was a camp counselor for inner city kids. It was pretty fun, I guess. Most of the kids in my group were about 3 years younger, 2 feet taller and probably could've kicked my ass, but we had a good time.

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

My first paying job was babysitter starting at 11. Guess how long ago that was - I got 50 cents an hour. At 13 we moved into a subdivision where there were no other teenage girls but lots of young families (it was not common for boys to sit back then) so I had jobs every evening during the week and all day Saturdays and Sundays.

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

My first paying job was when I was fifteen. I worked at a pharmacy in a medical centre. It wasn't a store, just a dispensary. I answered the phone when people called to get prescription refills and operated the cash register when people picked up their drugs. I also helped the pharmacists count out large numbers of pills. I don't believe that's legal anymore. Today, I think you have to be a bona fide pharmacy assistant. It was 1980-81, things were different then.

It was weird knowing what drugs your friends and neighbours were taking.

-- Anonymous, May 02, 2001

You're right Maggie, I worked housekeeping in a pharmacy where my Mom was a pharmacist, and I remember her bitching because pharmacy assistants weren't even allowed to ring up prescription sales (now that I think about it, I wonder what they *were* allowed to do).

My first job was as something called a corn detassler - got to walk down long rows of corn (some about 1km long) pulling tassles off corn, for a measly $3.25/hour. Gruelling work, usually done by kids aged 15 to 18. Passed out from heat twice. It was seasonal, only about 3 weeks in total, but I would NEVER make my kids do it. Awful, awful work. My next job was the housekeeping job in the pharmacy (vacuuming, trash, plant watering etc) for which I was paid the handsome sum of $5.00. Sucked at it, though, and got fired (nepetism didn't help me there).

-- Anonymous, May 02, 2001

This sounds crazy, but I babysat the next door kid (four years younger) when I was SIX. Of course I was supervised, but I didn't get into much mischief, so was paid to keep an eye on younger kids.

When in elementary school, sold greeting cards (and Girl Scout cookies, FWIW) unsupervised door-to-door. Also did typical lemonade stand crap and....lessee...I made flower pins out of circles of fabric and interesting buttons and sold those for 50 cents each. Sewed a safety pin onto the back, made petals out of the fabric circles. I was a creative kid, I guess. No one gave me a pattern, I just did 'em.

-- Anonymous, May 03, 2001

Oh, I had deleted the babysitting out of my mind. Most experiences were pleasant.

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2001

I babysat nieces and nephews for a few years before turning 14 and taking my first real summer job at the non-profit org where I currently work. I was a "youth counselor", meaning that I lead a small class of kindergarteners from art class to art class, and then supervised them in the park in the afternoons. I was supposed to swim with them, also, but I didn't want people seeing me in my swimsuit.

I worked that job for a few years in a row. I spent all my min-wage dollars on clothes and records.

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2001

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