Monday, April 11, 2011

Get A Job!

With the terrible state of our country's economy and all of us pinching pennies and finagling to figure out how and where we can possibly find a few more dollars for the budget these days, I recently started wondering just what my present job skills are. This led me back to thinking of the jobs I had when I first entered the job market to start earning some money of "my own."

Can you remember your very first job that you got paid for? Other than doing chores around the house to earn allowance from your parents, I mean. Like so many others, I babysat for neighbors, family and family friends. But I don't really count that as it wasn't like getting a steady salary check.

When I was growing up, in our town we couldn't be legally employed until the age of sixteen. However, you could work on a corn detasseling crew when you were a year younger. So that's what I did the summer I was fifteen. Talk about hard, hot, exhausting work! The comraderie with other girls from all over the various parts of our town of 60,000 was a fun experience, but we did work for our pay.

When I was sixteen I got a job working in a two-story department store. I worked after school a couple nights a week and Saturdays during the school year. My assigned area was in women's casual clothing but we all had to take turns running the rickety, very old elevator when the regular operator was sick or on break. (This was obviously pre-self operated elevators.) The darn thing scared the bejeezus out of me as it wouldn't always stop when you wanted it to and trying to line it up level with the floor you stopped at was always a challenge. Once when I was coming from the second floor down to the main floor, the elevator wouldn't stop until it reached the bottom of its cable system in the basement. It was a dungeon of a basement and not where any customer (or I!) wanted to go. On this job I earned sixty-five cents an hour and a 10% discount on any clothes I bought.

During my second year of working retail, I was offered a job in a small manufacturing company. A distant relative worked there and suggested I apply. I did and was offered the job. When I told my boss at the department store I was leaving for a better job, he asked how much more I would be making and I told him the salary was one dollar an hour. The dear man offered to up my wage to a dollar an hour if I would stay but not tell any of the other girls I was making more than them!

Whatever my reasoning, I decided to move on to the new job. You'll never in a million years guess what the company where I went to work manufactured. Freckle cream. Yup. It was a white cream in a little glass jar that supposedly would remove freckles from anywhere on your body. The fragrance was lovely. Did it actually remove freckles? Not having any of my own (freckles, that is), I couldn't try it out. My guess now is that it had some kind of a bleaching agent in it and would no doubt be outlawed these days by the Food and Drug Administration.

There were only five other employees in the building plus the boss who had inherited the business from his father. The boss was a kind man who drank his lunch every day and spent most afternoons with his head on his desk sleeping it off.

During the couple of years I worked there full-time during the summers, the boss's daughter came in to help out a few times. She was two years younger than me, a delightful person, and fun for me because the other five employees were four old women and the chemist, an old man. Really, really old. (Read: Younger at the time than I am now!)

The other person hired my last summer there was a boy my own age who was a nephew of the boss. He was a total dork, well over six feet tall weighing about 110 pounds. He developed a crush on me and continually asked to go out with him. I mean continually as in being extremely obnoxious. The day he chased me around a work table (yes, he did) trying to grab me and kiss me was the day I went to the boss and said, "One of us has to go. Either him or me." He went.

What did I do at the freckle cream factory. Hand-folded little boxes (thousands and thousands of boxes) and slid the jars of cream in. Then I packed the little boxes into cases.

I filled in as the boss's secretary on her days off or on sick days. That drove me bonkers because there just wasn't that much to do. Especially in the afternoon when my boss was . . . ah . . . resting. I was always happy to get back to folding boxes.

Okay, those were a couple/few of my first jobs. Now it's your turn. Care to share about your first experience(s) out there in the working world?


  1. My first "real" job, after years of babysitting, was working at the local 'general' store two blocks from my house. Each day, I'd have to walk through the produce section and re-memorize the price of any produce items that had changed overnight. Same for the bakery items. It was before barcodes came into existence when cans and food items actually had price tags! It was a great job...

  2. Other than babysitting and yard and house sitting my first job was at Eatons, a retail store. I was hired in ladies clothing but had to fill in in kids clothing and jewelery and cosmetics when people went on breaks. I remember it being really boring.
    The next job I had was in a jewelery store. Lots of polishing and not much pay or fun. The boss used to pay us in cash and we got slightly different amounts each time. The owners sister did the payroll.

  3. My first "real" job was fast food. I hated it.....right down to the ugly uniforms that, no matter how often you washed it, always smelled of french fries. My next job was working at a Produce store. I loved that job, as there were so many different jobs within-working as a cashier, unloading semi's, prepping the produce for sale. I also did a stint as a housepainter, a clerk in a feed store and I worked on a dairy. I like my job as wife best, though. I think I'll keep this one!

  4. My first job was at an antiques store in our local town. It lasted a total of one day. The creepy old man who owned the place told 14 year old me that he was going to kiss me at the start of every work day because I was "such a pretty thing". I was out of there in an instant. A week or two later I was hired at a local kitchen wares store. I did inventory, helped customers, unpacked shipments, etc. I worked there for two years earning $6.50/hour before taxes. After that I was a hostess at a sushi restaurant... one of the perks of that job was (cute waiters) being fed after our shift every night and over the top monthly birthday dinners for employees with all the sushi (and sake) you could handle. Then I worked at a family owned candle store, where I was one of two employees. I did a work-study at an herb shop in exchange for herbalist training, and stayed on as an employee after the training concluded. I loved working there and learning all of the herblore, both formally in class and informally as I learned the products!

  5. my second job after babysitting all the children this side of the Mississippi [ because my mother had 14 children ] was at the foster tower. [ tallest building in mpls. at the time ] was similar to gramma pea's experience which made me laugh out loud. a bothersome guy,only i left. after that came looking after my dad ,cuz mom passed on [ we have really rotten genes ] or maybe it was the stress of having 14 children. one wilder than the next, i could right a book there are so many stories to tell. your right though about the economy. and we got stuck with the worst kind of landlord. the one who wants you to sigh a contract for deed. at $50,000.00 over market value. much higher now. we are not stupid. we were just desperate. so now we all combine forces to pay this charlatan the $1500.00 he wants a month.didn't mean to carry on so. guess i have a lot to say judy-can't wait to read another part of your journal!

  6. My first job was as a waitress at a local eatery. They paid me $1 an hour and I could keep my tips, of course. That didn't last long.

    My second job was at a fast food place for minnium wage. ($3.50?) I was bent over stuffing burger into a broiler most of the day. Lost my appetite and lost 10 lbs. (yuck) The stink was awful.

  7. My first job was in construction. More appropriately, destruction. The summer before I left for college I worked on stripping a house to it's bones. Hard work. I installed all the electrical outlets and switches, cleaned and stacked the stones for the fireplace, and drywalled in the bathroom. My nickname by the crew was LC- for lady contractor. I would love to drive by that house now, but it is down a long driveway in the woods. I dont know if the new owners would be receptive to me being the reason the lamps dont work.

  8. Hooray for corn detasseling! My first "real" job ended up being my only one. In my hometown we had an old, rundown old river hotel on the Mississippi. The Red Wing Shoe Company bought it (now everyone knows my hometown LOL) and restored it to it's 1800's glory. I got in soon after it was finished by getting a job bussing tables in a cafe restaurant. That lasted from age 15-16 and after that I moved to hostessing in the same restaurant. By my first year of college I was able to snag the best shift of 5 am - 1pm (I'm a morning person!) and was paid extra because I opened and did all the accounts receivable from the previous night's closing operations. I worked with some really difficult people as well as some great ones, but it taught me a lot! I could have made more money waiting tables there or at one of the other hotel restaurants, but I always liked the managerial aspects of things rather than the people stuff LOL - After that, I went straight into the military!

  9. How fun to reminisce. I remember being in high school and not being able to get a job because I didn't have any work experience, LOL. My first job was in the candy department at Montgomery Wards. Our manager said we could eat all the candy we wanted. Well, that lasted for about a week or so before I was sick of looking at candy!

  10. My very first job was at Showbiz Pizza - front register, ticket taking / prize giving, and salad bar - because the person touching the money and all those grotty tickets is the one you want stocking the salad bar, right??? That job only lasted a few months (they did inquire whether I wanted to be a manager - no thanks!) before I moved on to retail. I worked in the purses and accessories dept at Kmart the entire time I was in college. It wasn't too bad as far as retail goes.

  11. @ Jenyfer, ohmigosh I had forgotten all about that place, wasn't that like Chuck E. Cheese is now? Did they issue you ear plugs?! Mama Pea, what a fun post!

  12. First job: waiting tables at the East Bay Hotel! I can't remember what I was paid, but I do remember those early morning fishermen who would be beating the door down at 6am for their raisin-rye bread!

  13. @Erin - yes, Showbiz turned into Chuck E. Cheese. Fortunately I didn't stay that long - and I've never taken my own children there!!!

  14. Besides the usual babysitting, I worked a short while in, what was waay back then, the equivalent of a fast food joint. My next real job was my favorite. I worked in a little florist shop and I would shut myself in the big cooler when the roses were delivered. They smelled so wonderful. Of course, once I also got locked in, so that was the end of that. The shop was in the country and there was a big pond with geese. I used to share my lunch sandwiches with them.

  15. Fiona - Not sure I could have handled committing to memory all those prices!

    Sparkless - Ha! Hope you always got paid for your hours worked. Sounds a little funny that the boss paid you in cash and not always what you'd expect!

    Sue - You sound like a Jill-of-all-trades! I agree with you. Even though it seems as if there's always a bit too much to do, being a homemaker is at the top of my list, too!

    Gelfling - Sexual harassment on that creep that owned the antiques store! What a neat job in the herb shop. How fortunate to work at something you're really interested in!

  16. judy - Wow, sounds as if you've had PLENTY of babysitting in your life! Sure hope things get better for you in regard to your renting. But it's hard these days.

    tami - I've never worked at a fast food place, but those who have seem to agree that it's the odors that get through to you . . . and not in a nice way!

    Jane - Your job experience makes me think of the first house hubby and I built together. Many years after we had sold it, we heard it burned down. I always wondered if it had to do with faulty wiring. Sure hope not!

  17. Erin - Of course you'd like a managerial type job! And I have no doubt you were very good at it.

    Leigh - Now there's good psychology for you! Go ahead and eat all the candy you want. Ha! (Wonder if that would work the same for someone working in a liquor store??)

    Jen - There are certainly all kinds of jobs and we all seem to be covering a lot of them.

    Do you have any special feelings when you go in a KMart now?

    Susan - Now working in a floral shop appeals to me! With or without geese to lunch with.

    Claire - How many years has that place been closed and people STILL talk about the raisin rye bread!

  18. Love to read all these memories. My first job I got paid for was working in my parents construction company doing siding. I think I started the summer I turned 13. My first non-parent-company job I had was waitressing at a small cafe when I turned 15. I remember my first $5 tip. I thought I had really struck the big time! :)

  19. Mama Tea - I'm betting there aren't many gals who can say they worked at putting up siding when they were 13! It really is interesting to read what we've all done!

  20. Picking blueberries with my friend at her aunt and uncle's fruit farm, opening summer houses and weekly cleaning, local ski resort fast food - register, tray room, fryer, grill, kitchen, counter-lots of variety there! Also later in the office there, local small grocery store, and lots of babysitting.

  21. Karen Sue - Wow, you've covered quite a few different jobs. If those were all before you started on a "real" job, you were a busy gal! :o)