Having older kids, the conversation recently turned to them getting jobs. My worry is that school work might suffer, which is important. Probably less important is how old it will make me feel if the kids are old enough to get jobs! I do think it’s good for kids to work, though. Especially outside the home, though chores are also beneficial. Teenage employment teach responsibility and give kids the satisfaction of their own money. It also doesn’t hurt to pick up some skills and experience to help them when they enter the adult workforce. What all this has made me think about is the variety of jobs I had as a teenager.
The first few were a little bit unusual, now that I think back.
Teenage Job #1
While other teenagers were working the deep fryer at the local takeaway stores, I started my first job as an after-school dental assistant. As teenage jobs go, it was a bit unusual. My boss worked until 9 pm most nights in the oldest dental surgery I’d ever seen. The carpet was so worn out that it was completely threadbare down the middle and leading up to the cracked-vinyl dental chairs. As well as being a man dedicated to long hours, he was also very fond of not spending a cent.
This job taught me a few things, like how to help calm down people who were freaking terrified. As a 14 year old girl, I did a lot of hand-holding. Mainly, it was kids and middle-aged women that I found were the most in need of reassurance.
My boss had a VCR and a television that was high up and angled, so the patient could watch while they got their dental work done. I thought this was pretty good, because I could watch, too. The novelty soon wore off, though, because my boss would always choose the movie out of the few videos he had. He always picked the same one; The Flintstones Movie. Now, I love John Goodman and Rick Moranis as much as the next person but I have purposely avoided that movie for 20 years because believe me, I have seen it more times than anyone should.
I was paid bugger-all and it got to the point where I just hated it. I couldn’t face cleaning out the spittoon or watching The Flintstones ever again and I resigned.
Teenage Job #2
My second teenage job was far more entertaining. I became a Wilderness Society koala. Each weekend, I’d head into the city to pick up a koala suit and locked collection bucket. They’d assign me a place and I’d be back on the train, carrying my bucket and suit. A friend and I often went in together and would try to get collection points close together. Wearing a furry suit meant I spent a lot of time hugging kids and rattling my bucket.
I hated approaching people directly for money and would instead jump around, singing ridiculous songs to try to entertain passers by. I thought I was pretty good at it, too. Hindsight tells me I did okay donations-wise not for my talents but because people probably felt quite sorry for me. I’m not sure what lesson to take from that, other than the knowledge that I really can’t sing.
It beat the hell out of anything involving a spit suction machine. We were paid a percentage of whatever we’d collected and it was fun. It was hard when summer really hit, though. There was only one suit with cut-off style legs and the competition was pretty fierce. One day, a group of teens tried to steal my bucket of coins. There was a helluva tug-o-war, which I won. I then pulled out my mobile phone to call the police. Terrified, the teenagers came back and begged me not to, emptying their pockets to make up for their attempted robbery. I let them go and hung up the koala suit not long after, for good. Having to fight like that was not for me!
Teenage Job #3
My mum came across an ad in the paper and encouraged my boyfriend and I to apply for this one. With one phone call, we became gardeners at a huge cemetery. Our boss (whom I won’t name because I just looked him up and he’s still working though he must be 80!) was quite a character. He’d round us all up and divide us into groups to weed certain areas. He was terrifyingly loud and would make random remarks about our appearances mid-conversation. Things like “The rose gardens there really need tidying up and yes, you’re a very pretty girl, not sure why you’re here. Use that wheelbarrow there. Don’t come back ’til it’s full of weeds!’
We would all start early in the morning and work until we’d had enough. The boss would then pay you for the day (in cash!) and off you’d go. As well as being loud and sometimes inappropriate, he was also hiring teenagers and backpackers with no clue what they were doing. Consequently, I got myself and my boyfriend fired because we pulled out a bunch of seedlings that I thought were weeds. I’m no master gardener these days, but I can generally tell the difference between a plant and a weed!
What was your first teenage job?
#IBOT @ Capturing Life.
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