My first exposure to the working world came when I was in the sixth grade. Our small town had a Summer Recreation program where older kids could make a few bucks supervising dodge ball games and other activities designed to keep everybody busy and active during the summer break. I have no idea how much money we actually made, or how this didn’t violate child labor laws, but it was an actual paycheck for not doing much more than hanging out with my buddies, dishing out ice cream, and putting band aids on skinned knees.
From that point on I was pretty much always working. I spent a lot of time shoveling manure and stacking hay bales at my friend’s farm, did lawn maintenance at the town baseball fields, and spent a summer painting houses. I spent two years at a plant nursery making $4.25 an hour, two months at an Ames department store as a cashier, and two weeks in the housewares department at Caldor trying to figure out the difference between valance and regular curtains.
While working at Tri-Town grocery store I made more lifelong friends and have fonder memories than I do of my entire four years of high school.
The teenager now has her first job, a moment that I feel is just as memorable as first car, first kiss, or first apartment. I’m discounting the time she spent at a country store because she only got paid based on the store’s performance on that particular day. The only thing she ever seemed to come home with were some dubious right-wing conspiracy theories and revisionist history books. Apparently the US government was responsible for the cancellation of the post-apocalyptic television show Jericho, a shame because I really liked it.
She’s now the newest hostess at a local restaurant, working the dinner and evening shifts every Friday and Saturday night. These hours have the dual benefit of not interfering with her school work and also renewing the interest of all parties in the procurement of her driver’s license, her next big life milestone.
I have no idea how long she’ll stay there or how she will one day look back on her time at this job. So far she seems to like the people and the money that she is earning. Its much more lucrative than collecting our empty bottles and cans. She’s learning responsibility, going in on a night when she wasn’t feeling well, and financial strategy, giving us half of her earnings to save.
She’s proud of herself and we are proud of her. Welcome to the workforce, honey. Only forty-eight more years until retirement.
This post was previously published on ThirstyDaddy and is republished here with permission from the author.
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Photo credit: Jeremy Barnes