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Flashback Friday ~ First Job

Mocha With Linda has started her very own meme. This is how she describes it:

This new meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been!.

I am enjoying this meme a lot. Grab the button and the link and come play along. Linda’s theme this week is:

How old were you when you got your first (paying) job? Did you work during the school year? What stipulations, if any, did your parents put on spending, saving, etc.? What types of jobs did you have before you were, oh, 21 or 22? Did you go to college or a technical/trade school? If so, did you work while you were pursuing your post-high school education? What were your favorite — and least favorite, if you wish to share! — jobs? What did you learn from those early jobs?

When I was a kid my friends and I would rake leaves in the fall. We worked for a dime a piece. There were 3 of us. For 30 cents you could get your yard raked and your curbs and driveway swept. My friends and I had a pretty good repeat business. We usually got lemonade or soda pop and cookies, too. We thought we were living good!

At the age of 12 I graduated to baby-sitting for 75 cents an hour. I’d really hit the big time then! The Summer I turned 13, I took my first “real” job — itinerant farm worker. My job was to crawl around in the hop fields on my hands and knees for 8 hours every day pulling weeds and convincing the hop vines to climb the guy wires. It was a horrid job.

By the end of the first day I was too hot and too dirty. I wanted to quit. My parents hadn’t wanted me to take the job. They said it was too hard and I couldn’t do it. That’s why I got up and went back the next day and the next. I didn’t like the job, but it wasn’t too hard and I most certainly could do it.

My parents made me give my notice by the end of my third week. They didn’t like me out in the field with the itinerant workers. Most of them were kids my own age, but Dad didn’t care. He was certain they were dangerous. He based his opinion on their skin color, not their characters. I argued, but since Dad was my transportation I didn’t have much choice. I gave my notice.

About that time we left to spend the Summer in a logging camp up Bumble Bee creek outside of Kingston, Idaho. We stayed in Babin’s Trailer Park. Every day I walked the mile between Babin’s and the dump. At the dump I climbed right into the dumpsters and dug out all of the bottles and cans, which I put into gunny sacks and drug into the bushes. After work when he came down the mountain dad would stop and load the gunny sacks into the pickup. I made $400.00 that Summer recycling those bottles and cans.

I worked an interesting variety of jobs over the next few years. I baby-sat for a church (paid nursery position). I worked binding and trimming machines in a print shop. I worked janitorial for a bar, cleaning from 4-8 a.m. 6 days a week (didn’t clean Sunday nights). I worked doing tedious record searches for a Land & Title Co. (pre-computer). I worked the switchboard at a very busy bowling alley/arcade/sports bar. Then I finally settled into janitorial work for about 10 years. At 29 I got a job as a cook in a hospital. At 31 I went to college. My pre-professional years lasted a bit longer than is traditional.

As for provisions put on my money and saving — at the age of 14 when I started earning substantial (for a kid) paychecks, my parents collected my money.  No matter how much I earned, I was given a $20.00 per month allowance ($5.00 per week).  Ten percent of my money was put into savings supposedly for me, but I never saw it.  The remainder went to my parents for my room and board.

The reason I got a job during the school year in the first place was because when I was 14 my dad was injured in an accident.  He spent months in the hospital and about a year in physical therapy.  During that time my paycheck was needed to support the family.  After dad was back to work full time and my step-mom quit working, they still took my paychecks.  I protested once and was told that I was an ungrateful wretch who didn’t deserve the bed and food I already had.  Not surprisingly I left home at 17.


  1. Wow. You have had quite a variety of job experiences.

    With all that happened to you in parental-type relationships, It’s amazing that you aren’t a cranky bitter woman. God has poured some grace into your life!

    1. Linda – -don’t forget I had my amazing Gram to balance it out. I only lived 2 years with my 1st step-mother and 4 with the second. The one constant in my life was my incredible, loving grandmother.

  2. i picked blueberries for a dime a basket
    i lasted one morning
    i went home when they dismissed us for lunch
    with a bellyful of berries
    and a tummy ache

  3. Great story, Quilly! I do admire all that you did! I didn’t work until I was 15 and worked in my family’s restaurant. I worked one summer for the telephone company — you know, the number please routine! I graduated from high school when I was 16 and went to college one week after my 17th birthday. Went for two years, wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I quit and worked for ten years at a whole slew of jobs, I traveled a lot, and finally knew that I wanted to teach and went back to school when I was 27 and graduated 2 years later. It’s been a wild ride, but fun — well, for the most part! Have a wonderful weekend!


    1. Sylvia — sometimes one has to experience what they don’t want before one figures out what it is they do want.

  4. sheesh! what a life! I am glad you at least had one constant source of love and affection — your grandmother. I never had that, unfortunately, until I met David.

  5. Yea…. had I been you I think I would have been gone long before 17. I moved out the day after graduation – I was still 17 too — and I didn’t have a wicked stepmother! Just an alcoholic real one…

    You had lots of cool LIFE experience though! We used to collect bottles and recycle them too… I don’t remember recycling cans… I don’t think we had that capability around here… back then.

    1. Melli — there was legal hassle and police involvement when I left at 17. I don’t think leaving earlier was an option.

  6. Oh my stars! What a story and what life experiences you have had. You are so right about having one source of comfort and encouragement. It is sad that so many have not so pleasant family background. I had a difficult childhood as well, but thankfully I was able to move past the dysfunction.

    It really is amazing at how different things are today. I don’t know a teenager walking that would even consider worrying on their hands and knees in a hop field…do you?

    Thanks for sharing your memories. Sometime looking back in not so fun! But our life experience are what make us who we are, our strength and our resilience is formed by how we weather the storms of our youth!


    1. Robin — i had my grandmother, my sister and my brother who all adored me. My life with my dad wasn’t always great, but it grounded me in reality and I think that is where my compassion and my passion for justice comes from.

  7. OMG, that’s horrible what you lived compared to me ! I just could describe my first work in one § ! I started after highschool and Translation/Correspondance school, my first work at 22 earned good money, quit when I didn’t like it anymore, took the summer off, got a new very well payed job, quit for the summer etc. It was out of question that I gave anything to my parents ! they had more then enough. Instead I got a lot of stuff from them (even useless) I have to say working with languages payed very well !

  8. Gosh you really knew hard work didn’t you Quilly? I think it was unfair of your parents to take your paycheques especially once your Dad was back at work, I’m not surprised you left home so young.

    1. Akelamalu — that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I learned a lot about the kind of person I don’t want to be from those experiences.

  9. Boy it’s no wonder you know so much about things. I can’t believe they kept your paycheck after all was well. That’s horrible. I would have dug out also. I use to deliver TVGuides…that was one of my first jobs. Boring!!! I don’t even know how much I made for each one delivered. 🙂

  10. what a history you have! i didn’t have to work until i landed my first ‘real’ job, and after 27 years i still work in a bank (albeit not the same one i started)
    i did have basketball, though, which took the vast majority of my spare time although it didn’t pay a dime (even though we trained 7-8 times a week plus matches) save for free after-match dinners

    1. Polona — I am an American mongrel. My story is more common place than you might imagine. Your story seems totally alien to me.

  11. I was a bank-teller during High School for credit. The bank didn’t take taxes out of my paycheck. Two years later, I received an IRS notification of back taxes owed. By that point, I lived in San Francisco (almost impoverished) and really needed the money withheld from my puny refund check.

      1. Much obliged, Ma’am.

        Coincidentally, I was working in the shipping dept. at a wholesale accessory company (when the IRS tracked me down). Nobody ever got FREE SHIPPING.

  12. .
    You’ve had almost as many jobs as I had residences in my single lives! The weed pullng is a good place to learn some proper work ethics. You are a good learner, I can tell. 🙂

    My first job was pulling and hoeing weeds in my uncles and cousin’s corn fields. Dad didn’t pay for my doing his. Room and board seems to be common.

    1. .
      Uncles’ and cousin’s corn fields meant two uncles and one cousin. The cousin paid me best.

    2. Jim — I was required to work at home and chores didn’t come with an allowance. Whenever one of us would ask for one the response would be, “Allowance? We give you a place to sleep and food to eat, don’t we?” If one didn’t do their chores for the day it was best to not show up at the dinner table. No plate would await them.

  13. My first paying job beyond babysitting was at Baskin-Robbins. I was hired at the age of 14 (yes, I’m tall for my age, and I was paid out of the register) the same year that Nixon instituted a wage and price freeze. I didn’t make much to begin with, but never had any hope for a raise…

    1. Melissa — judging by that bit of history in your comment, I would say that you are acouple of years older than I am. 😉 I have never been tall for my age. sigh. And money couldn’t have been too important to you anyway, or you wouldn’t be teaching! 😉

    1. Teresa — the dumpster gig was actually okay — it got me out of the house and away from my step-mom for hours at a time. Plus, walking back and forth, and all the bending and hefting had me looking pretty buff by summer’s end!

  14. My husband worked at a print shop for a while as his summer jobs.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Hope you are having a good weekend.

  15. I read your conversation with Mocha with Linda, and thank God in Heaven for heavenly Grandmothers, huh? 🙂

    You have had a lot of job experience. The farm worker was probably the most eye-brow raising for me. Most teens these days wouldn’t even CONSIDER doing labor like that! Nothing like a “you can’t” to push you to say, “I CAN!”

    1. Chel — I was a teen over 30 years ago, but even then farm worker wasn’t a prime job. And I often go the “too incompetent” message as a teen. It took me years to over come it and to some extent I still haven’t.

  16. Amazed at the variey of jobs you held!
    My first job was in a mental hospital. I remember buying an eight track tape player to take back to college with me.

  17. That is quite a variety of jobs and life experience. I am glad you had your Gram to balance some of the horrible childhood experiences.

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