Job #1

So Riley got a job.  His first W-2, paycheck givin’, tax-taking, unglamorous, lower than minimum wage job. We told him he had until June 12, the day school got out, to land a job.  Or it was buh-bye to phone, car, computer, PS3, life as he knows it. He’s actually been working for the last 3 years as a soccer referee, pretty cush job.  But it’s seasonal, lasts about 3 months in the spring and fall, and it’s also not “guaranteed.”  Games are assigned or not assigned, so there is no regular paycheck, so to speak.  It does however, pay well, and no taxes because he doesn’t make enough :-). So now that he is moving to a REAL job, it’s gonna get ugly. And that IS guaranteed. My poor guinea pig 1st son.

Do you remember your first jobs? Come with me on a stroll down minimum wage lane. I started doing menial filing in my Mom’s office when I was 14.  I listened to Billy Joel in that basement over and over and over. It was a cassette tape.  And I sang at the top of my lungs because no one could hear me.  And I was good. At filing…not singing.

My high school job summer job was at Wendy’s ..my first and only fast food job.  I quickly graduated from bun toaster to drive thru window because I could make change in my head (Thanks, Dad!).  At the time, Wendy’s served Chicago style hot dogs.  I could assemble one of those bad boys in my sleep, there were like 8 toppings.

College saw me employed at Little Caesars on campus for a year (turned down the $.05 raise to come back for a 2nd year, take that bitches), the dorm cafeteria for a couple of years, then I was a Meijer cashier.  I got put on their “do not rehire” list because I was a no-call, no-show for my last day of work. I’m such a rebel. To this day I want to apply at Meijer, just to see how long they hold on to that list. Then the shit got real.  I got a job working with developmentally disabled adults who live in group homes.  Their disabilities ranged from wheelchair bound and non-communicative to downs syndrome folks who held down jobs. I didn’t last very long, that was a taxing job. It takes a special kind of person, and I ain’t that special.

During the first couple summers of college and during breaks I was back home and did transcription work for an office of psychologists and psychiatrists. It was that job that helped me see that I did not want to go into clinical psychology. It was very interesting, but not my cup of wine (and yes, before you ask, I got discounts on much needed therapy….).

Just before graduating college I got a job as a bank teller at a local Kalamazoo bank.  I actually kind of liked that job, but let’s just say banks don’t appreciate my sense of humor.  Not a good fit.  I know, hard to believe.

Then I got married and moved to Maryland where I worked for a temp agency.  I did some really weird administrative assistant jobs, very short term, some good, some aw. ful.  But my last placement saw me working in the travel department for World Bank employees for almost a year.  I was a travel agent of sorts. It was pretty cool, actually, I was booking hotels and flights around the world and in Washington D.C.  My office overlooked Georgetown University and the Potomac.  I was kind of a big deal. By then we had moved to Arlington, VA into our plush and stately 1 bedroom apartment, Brendan still had his “real” job working in Alexandria, VA and we were a 1 car family. It was a Ford Probe.  The spoils of consistent employment 🙂

Then I was starting grad school in Baltimore, so we moved north.  I took my travel agent skills and got a job at a travel agency working in their group department doing high school trips to Europe and investment trips to South America.  I worked for a bunch of Austrians.  I learned that “shiza” means “shit.”  Other outstanding memory from there? Watching the OJ Simpson verdict on on a tiny little TV. If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit. I had a paltry salary, but it was an intriguing experience.

THEN…finally…I landed in what I would call my first REAL job. During grad school, I was referred to the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration.  I worked in Testing and Recruitment full time, 40 whole hours a week (while still in school), earned vacation, a nice salary, a cubicle of my very own, commuting, doing work that required a college degree. I’d made it to the big leagues. Stuff I did, actually, for realsies, impacted other people’s lives. Who the hell thought that was a good idea.  But it was in my field of study and I really liked it.

So in 10 short years I went from filing to test development for engineering professionals. The plan worked. Then I got pregnant, quit my job, moved back to Michigan and got the BEST job ever: Stay at Home Mommy for 8 years 🙂 My salary was hugs and kisses. I was not very far removed from my college days where I proudly declared, “Of course I’ll work when I have babies!”  But I didn’t. For me personally, it wasn’t about some grand principle that I needed to make a stand on. Brendan and I talked, decided no day care for our family, and made it work.  It was glorious.

“The best laid plans of Mice and Men oft go astray.”  Robert Burns

Eventually, after #3 was here, I hustled Market Day part-time for a couple of years, then landed a coveted school secretary gig, where I sit today, 8 years later. I now talk about pensions, retirement and 401k plans. Not what I planned on, not what I studied for, but I’m happy. So what will Riley’s job as a dishwasher at Manuel’s Taco Hut turn into one day? Computer programmer? Circus performer? HEAD dishwasher at Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse?  A Mom can dream. He doesn’t have any concrete plans for his future career right now, so who knows.

I don’t think anyone would argue that it doesn’t really matter what your first job is, just that you HAVE a job as a teen. You are responsible to someone else besides your parent for something with a good amount of importance attached to it, but not TOO important. I honestly think his job is gonna suck. Huge. But he’s strangely excited about it. Lord knows the kid knows how to spend money like it’s going out of style, so he’s gonna need to work, no matter what it is.  We spend at least 1/3 of our time at work, it’s impossible for it to not have a huge impact on nearly every element of our lives as we go about our business of living.  So Riley’s timeline begins with dishwasher…oh the possibilities.

“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.” -Oscar Wilde

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