Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Job: Crazy Eyes first job. The memory takes me back....far The Mainstreet Diner and Ms. Pickle. My first venture into the job market and child labor laws.

I was sixteen at the beginning of that summer and my father had said 'NO' to a larger allowance. I had no choice but to try and find gainful employment in a small town with too few opportunities and far too many teenagers willing to fill them.

I lucked out and noticed a 'Help Wanted' sign in the window of the small diner on mainstreet before anyone else. I rushed in, determined to take it no matter what the position. As I sat waiting to be interviewed, I looked around the small dining area. This couldn't be too bad, I thought. Its so small how much business could there be?

The owner of the Mainstreet Diner walked out from the back and sat down to interview me. I looked up, smiled and began to turn on what I felt was my considerable apple pie, girl next door charm. I faltered.....Ms. Pickle had a glaring flaw. As I tried to ignore it and proceed, my mind threatened to seize up. She had a wandering eye. One eye bored into mine with fierce intensity while the other took a merry trip around the room.

I tried to focus on the one watching me but I had trouble keeping track of what I was saying as I watched that frisky eye roll and skip from one area to the next. My face flushed with effort and I fought against nervous laughter that threatened to bubble up from that immature well that all teenagers carry within them.

I must have done a decent job of remaining coherent because I was hired on the spot. As a dishwasher. I worked each Saturday and Sunday for 10 hours straight over two steaming hot sinks, washing endless mounds of dishes. Air conditioning was a luxury Ms. Pickle did not believe in and by the end of those weekend days my hands were raw and cracked, my back ached, and I smelled of fried meat and rank sweat.

I lasted three weekends. Then I begged my father to reconsider the allowance and promised to take on any and all chores he thought I should. The desperation in my face must have sold him because he agreed cheerfully.

I didn't resign in person.....I couldn't. I wasn't sure which eye was in charge of taking resignations and I didn't want to find out.


  1. Three weeks is pretty good. LOL!

    I was 16 when I first got my job--as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant. They made me clock out for my breaks yet still work, promised me $4 then only paid me minimum wage ($3.35), gave me crummy hours, and I got my gold watch stolen.
    I think I lasted three weeks, too. LOL!

  2. No air conditioning! I think that should be a condition of employment. New rule: You don't believe in air conditioning, I don't believe in working for you.

  3. I have a teacher who warned us about an eye problem like Ms. Pickle's. I never really caught it wandering, I guess it wasn't bad.

    I never got an allowance. When we were too young to do much chores, we sometimes were allowed to have some money on birthdays and stuff, but I never got a regular allowance. Every penny I got when I was older, until the time I started working in a formal workplace, I earned doing chores. Everything from picking up pinecones in the front and backyard, to helping with the laundry, helping vacuum and cleaning bathrooms, et cetera. My parents felt like it was important that we learn the value of a dollar this way. I was told what chores were available and could choose which ones I wanted to do. Only the tasks I completed did I get paid for.

    I don't regret that my parents did it that way. I think it was a valuable teaching tool.

  4. I dodge her when I go home to visit, she still runs the Diner and that was 20 years ago!
    Lisa: Thanks
    Jennifer:I think all first jobs are a shock, yours sounded pretty bad.ha
    Bethany: I think your parents had the right idea.
    Stephanie:I agree and those hours! I should have staged a protest in front of the restaurant.
    Regina: NOW its


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.