Here’s a special little #ThrowBackThursday piece I wrote for a project that fell through over ten years ago. About first jobs. Technically, it wasn’t my first job, but for all intents and purposes no one really thought writing about my paper route was as interesting as I did. So enjoy!
I had my first panic attack at fourteen when my parents told me that money does NOT grow on trees… specifically, not the trees in our backyard. It was time for me to get a “real” job.
WHAT!?! I didn’t know the first thing about getting a real job, and furthermore, when would I have time to plan my future as a famous and beautiful actress in Hollywood if I was slaving as a day laborer in the ‘burbs of Detroit!? I needed out of this…
So I drew on my Debate Team skills to make some clearly thought out, well-organized arguments:
ME: “Dad, Mom, I’m like, on the cheerleading squad and practice starts in like, August.”
THEM: “It’s June. You’ll save plenty to buy new hair scrunchies and lip gloss by then!”
Wait. They expected me to bankroll my school supplies…?
Later that day…
ME: “Dad, Mom, you know I’m like, an actress, and I wanted to like audition for the community theatre. I was like, going to volunteer at the Renaissance Festival!”
THEM: “No comment.”
ME: “Fine, I’ll get a job! May I borrow your car?”
THEM: “Do you have a license?”
ME: (no comment)
The search didn’t go well for me. I was limited to places I could walk and I couldn’t do any of the jobs that listed high salaries, Bartender, Paralegal, or Private Detective.
The worst part? Turned out all my friends had received the “get a job” memo a month before me and had scooped up every decent local position… Dammit!
Defeat was not a good look for me. So I made some calls:
ME: “Are you working this summer?”
BFF (Best Friend Forever): “Life-guarding — community pool.”
I don’t do public pools. Next!
ME: “Are you working this summer?”
BBFF (Best Best Friend Forever): “Babysitting. People pay a lot for you to watch T.V. with their kid all day!”
I don’t do babies, kids, or geriatrics. Next!
ME: “Did you get a job?”
F (Friend. We’re not that close): “Yes! They’re still hiring! Come work with me, it will be SO fun!”
ME: “I would love to!”
BF (Best Friend! We’re getting closer): “Great! Meet me at McDonald’s. Lunch tomorrow. My boss will be there! Byeeee!”
That was easy! She was even going to bring her boss to lunch to meet me! Maybe her boss would buy, as my funds were low. I tried to imagine what fantastic job it would be. It was probably something super chic, like at one of the vintage stores in Royal Oak – I wondered if they gave employee discounts? I was positive my mom would let me use her car for such a fantastic job. I definitely needed new lip-gloss. I couldn’t dine with my potential new boss in my Dr. Pepper chapstick.
The next day…
I walked up to McDonald’s, nearly a mile, dripping of perspiration and sat at a very visible booth to wait. Finally, my friend walked in, alone.
ME: “Where’s your boss?”
#1 BFF (How have I survived this long without her?): “I’ll be right back, let me clock in and grab him. I’m so excited to see you! ”
Wait, him? Wait, WAIT, Clock in? She walked behind the counter, punched numbers into a register, and pointed me out to an elderly gentleman – maybe twenty-five – wearing a McDonald’s visor, headset, and giant retractable key ring. What the hell was happening here? The elderly man was approaching me with a big smile. Shit, this was happening. I gave my biggest smile back and…
…moments later I was filling out my very first W-2. I had just become the newest member of the McDonald’s family. I did not know how my entire life had gone so wrong.
Week One – front-counter. I’m certain I was put here due to my public appeal; I was very cute. Everybody was talking too fast or I wasn’t catching on too quickly because customers looked at me with disgust. All the orders took too long, and I shortchanged everyone. I was beginning to think my manager no longer thought I was cute or useful
Week Two – drive-thru. I had a nervous breakdown. Not only did the buttons on the register all look foreign, but so did the voices coming through my headset. I had no idea what people were ordering. It was a week of trying new things all my customers tried the Number One. It was the only button I had mastered.
I was mortified. No longer by the job itself, but how bad I was at it. My parents encouraged me to quit. After two weeks of indentured servitude at McDonald’s, they encouraged me to quit. Out of principle, I refused.
Week Three – Bun Toaster. This was the job a two-year-old could handle. The buns were split all I had to do was lay them face down on a revolving grate. I felt like an idiot. Everyone was laughing at me. My only solace – it was payday.
I opened my paycheck and realized I had been robbed. I panicked and screamed. Someone took all my money for things I did not sign up for, SSI, Medicaid, Medicare, Fed Tax, the list went on and on! I began to cry. The shift manager came over to ask if I had burned myself. “No! I’m too pretty to toast buns and someone stole my money!” I cried.
They sent me home.
I never went back. I made them mail me my last paycheck of forty-cents. I made my dad call to tell them I was quitting.