Monday, July 25, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Employment

Week 30: Employment. Describe your first job. What did you do? Were you saving for something in particular, or just trying to make a living? Did that first job provide skills and make an impact on your life today?

When I was a kid, I had several paper routes, like a lot of kids at the time.  It was not great money for what was often very heavy work, at early morning times.  Still it did teach responsibility, being required to do your job even when you would rather be out playing, or sleeping.  

My first "job" was as a stockboy at a new local grocery superstore. I was just 16 years old.  I lasted there all of about 2 months.  That first job was an eye opening adjustment into time management, not just on the job, but also in my life.  I wasn't used to having that much time taken up by something, causing me to not have the time I was used to for other activities.  I wasn't doing any more than trying to make a bit of money, pay for gas and insurance on the car, etc.  And the short time I had that job was more of an education in expectations of others when you were working for them or with them, than any sort of skills learning.  I think a trained monkey could have done what I was doing.  I made minimum wage, which was at that time $3.35/hour.

The next job I got was in fast food, with a national chain.  Again, it was an education in time management and such, with some useful skills thrown in.  Dish washing, food preparation, cleanup.  All good useful life skills, if not very taxing.  There are still some useful bits of knowledge I use on a regular basis that I learned from this job, for example, if the french fries in the fryer are floating, they're done enough to serve, even if they don't have that rich, golden brown color we all love.  I also handled money in this position, dealing with customers at the Drive Thru window.  I still get uptight when handling other people's money.  I don't do well in retail work for this reason.  At this job, I made slightly more, $3.45/hour.  Again, it was mostly gas money and such, I was still living at home with my parents.

My next job was also restaurant based, but more of a sit-down place.  A steakhouse of a national chain.  I moved to this job directly from the previous one for a pay raise.  Again, it was more useful as experience than for skills learning.  I mostly bussed tables and washed dishes, and other basic cleaning.  Some useful life skills, but not much for career skills.  I didn't end up staying in this position too long, either, as I left them when I enlisted in the Navy.  My son now works at that same restaurant.  One of my old managers is still there, and now manages my son.

All of these places gave me experience in what to expect from life as a working-class person.  The expectations that other people have of you when they are paying for your time, the expectations your co-workers have of you being part of a working team, etc.  How much of your time gets eaten up by earning a living.  They all end up impacting your life, even if you can't see it while you're working those early, low-end starter jobs.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman