A story about my first job
|My First Job
I lay awake in bed, restlessly. Tomorrow was the big day, my first day of work. Earning my own money would be great. I would not have to rely on my weekly allowance that paid out the minuscule amount of five dollars. All I had to do was sit in a small office for three hours and I would be paid minimum wage, which came out to about sixteen dollars a day. That meant that I would be earning around six to seven hundred dollars by the time summer was over. Six or seven hundred dollars. The thought of having that much money was astonishing, and although I knew that my job was going to be somewhat boring, I was eager to begin. As I tossed and turned, trying to fall asleep, I thought about how I had gotten the job in the first place.
During my freshmen year in high school, a Pick N’ Save grocery store opened up only about five minutes walking distance away. My parents, especially my mom, had been pressuring me to get a summer job ever since I had turned fifteen. I wasn’t thrilled about working during summer instead of having fun, but the thought of earning some money for myself was appealing. Therefore, I decided to apply for a summer job at Pick N’ Save as a bagger. I filled out the job application with high hopes of being hired, but almost as soon as I had sent it in my parents informed me that I had very little chance of being called for an interview, and even less of a chance of being hired. At first, I was annoyed by their lack of confidence in me getting the job and had expected that they would be giving me encouragement. After some thought, I realized that the reason behind their mysterious, negative attitude obvious. In addition to myself, there were many other students, some who were older than I was, that also wanted the bagger positions. Those were older would be hired first. Frustrated, I asked my mom to help me find other places to apply to.
It was the middle of May, about a month before summer vacation. I had been working on my homework when my mom came home. “Hi.” she had said. “Guess what?”
“What?” I asked.
“I was speaking to someone in the guidance office in your school today about getting you a work permit and they asked me if you would be interested in working at the pool. I told them you would be and I grabbed you an application on my way home.” The pool was located inside my high school, the last place I wanted to be during summer. Nevertheless, a job was a job.
“What do they want to me do? They don’t want me to be a life guard right?”
“No, nothing like that. They need a locker room attendant.”
“What would I have to do?”
“I’m guessing that all you would have to do is watch the lockers.”
“I would actually get paid for doing that?”
“Of course! You’ll get paid minimum wage and it will be so easy, all you have to sit around.”
Sitting inside during beautiful summer days, having to make sure that people didn’t take each other’s towels or clothing or whatever they kept in those lockers ...Oh well, I suppose it will be worth the money. “How exciting,” I said sarcastically. I could not have asked for a more uninteresting job but I decided to fill it out anyway. A week later, I received a call from the recreation department office, which was in charge of the pool, asking me when I wanted to come in for an interview. I told them I would come in the next day after school.
When another seemingly endless seven hours of class was over, I found myself walking to the building of my high school where the recreation department’s office was located, wondering what kind of things they would ask a me. As I came in a woman with a thick Spanish accent greeted me. “Hello, what can I do for you?” she asked with a friendly smile.
“Hi, I’m here for a job interview.”
“Oh, ok. Just go in that room,” the woman with the Spanish accent said. She pointed to a room on my left with the door halfway open, through which I could see women with short, curly hair, typing on a computer. I walked over and knocked on the door.
“Come in.” I opened the door and walked in. “Hi, I’m Jen. You must be Andrew.”
“Yes, nice to meet you,” I said as I shook her hand.
“Why don’t you have a seat right there.” I sat down in the chair and waited as Jen searched through her desk for something. She turned around in her chair with a clipboard and asked me, “You’re interested in being a locker room attendant, correct?”
“You came at the right time because I really need people for the job. Both morning and afternoon shifts are open.”
“What time do they start? Is there any difference between them other than when they begin?”
“The morning shift is from nine to twelve and the afternoon shift is from one to four. The afternoon shift is open swim, which means that you would be collecting money as people enter the locker room. This shift is Monday through Friday. The morning shift is swimming classes so you wouldn’t have to worry about money, but it’s all kids so you’d have to make sure that they don’t go too wild in there. If you chose the morning shift you would only have to work Monday through Thursday.”
At first I thought, I’ll take the afternoon shift because I won’t have to wake up early. Then I realized that if I took the morning shift I would be free to do what I please for the rest of the day. Although I would earn more in the afternoon shift, I was satisfied with making slightly less.
“I’ll take the morning shift.”
“Great,” she said as she wrote down my name on the clipboard. “Like I said before, just make sure the kids aren’t wild and don’t mess up the place. Look around and pick up junk once in awhile. Other than that, all you have to do is make sure people don’t take things from the lockers, or leave the showers on. I’ll be honest with you; if you haven’t figured it out yet, it gets pretty boring in there. I suggest you bring a book even though there is a TV the office you’ll be sitting in. It doesn’t get a very good reception.”
“Alright, thank you,” I said. I shook Jen’s hand again and left. Originally, I had wanted a job where I would actually being doing something. But as I walked home I felt surprisingly happy about being hired as a locker room attendant.
I glanced at the clock near my bed, which told me that it was two in the morning. I had only been away from Shorewood High School for less than a week, and I was going to be spending most of my mornings there again.
It was hot and humid outside, and the conditions inside the locker room were no different. I went into the small office from where I was supposed to keep an eye on the locker room, and was relieved to find that there were two fans. I turned them on instantly and sat down on a chair behind a counter with a phone and other miscellaneous items on it. There was a large window in front of me, but the rows of lockers were to the left and to the right of my view, so I could only see a small portion of them. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make sure people didn’t steal things from lockers when I could hardly see any of them from where I sitting, which was the correct place to my knowledge. However, I doubted that anyone, let alone kids, would put anything valuable in them and I was almost certain that the kids would not want to steal each other’s clothing.
I leaned back in the chair. A few kids came in, got changed, and went to the pool for their swimming classes. I glanced up at the clock, which read nine-ten. I had arrived at nine and I was already bored. I had forgotten Jen’s advice about bringing a book to read, so I turned towards the TV. I could tell it was old by the rusted antenna and because you had to turn a knob to change the channels. I flipped through them, not expecting anything to come in. Luckily I was able to get a decent number of stations. I had been saved from boredom. I turned the chair away from the window and faced the TV. Forty minutes later, the kids came back from the pool, changed, and left. While at the same time some new kids came in and got ready for their classes. The cycle repeated itself until it was noon. All I had done for three hours was watch TV and occasionally go out of the office into the locker room to turn off the showers. There had been nothing to pick up and no misbehaving kids to deal with. I still can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this, I thought to myself on my way home.
My first job as a locker room attendant had been an educational experience that taught me several things. The biggest effect it had on me was that it showed that when working in the real world, you are expected to show up every day. Unlike school, you can’t just call in and say you are not feeling well and can’t make it.
After work I would go home for lunch and afterwards would go on a short run because I was preparing for my first season of cross country. One day I while eating lunch, I received a call from some of my friends, who were going to a movie and had been wondering if I wanted to join them. I told them I would, but since the movie was an hour away, I asked them to pick me up at my house on their way to the theater. I quickly finished what I was eating and tossed on my running clothes. Normally, I would have stretched my leg muscles as any beginning runner should, but time was short and I decided that running without stretching one time was not going to kill me. I put on my running shoes and ran out the door. It had been a hot, sunny day and after only ten minutes of running I could feel my legs getting more and more exhausted with each stride. I had planned on going for thirty minutes, but the heat was bothering me and for some reason the muscles in my shins felt strained and tight. I turned around and headed back and by the time I had reached home I had began to limp. I applied ice and stretched it out for a few minutes and my shin felt, for the most part, back to normal. My friends arrived at my house and I went to the movie.
When I got out of bed the next morning I almost fell over. The muscles in my shin had become tight again and somehow it had spread to my knee as well. The first thought I had was, How am I going to get to work? To my horror I saw that it was eight forty-five. I had forgotten to set my alarm! I could barley even walk and I had fifteen minutes to get to work. I frantically searched for a solution to my dilemma, but I was in too much of a panic to think straight. I called my mom at work with hopes that she would know what to do. I explained the situation I was in to her, but instead of helping me, all she did was begin to lecture me about not being responsible. Eventually she may have offered some useful advice, but I was so frustrated with myself that I slammed the phone down in the middle of the conversation. I looked at the clock again, which told me I only had five minutes to get to work. I came to the conclusion that the only thing I could do was simply call in and say I could not come. “Hello?”
“Hi, can I speak to Jen please?”
“Is this Andrew?”
“Oh hey, it’s Deb. A few days after I had began working, Deb, Jen’s boss and head of the recreation department, had come to the locker room to introduce herself to me.
“Hey, I don’t think I can come to work today.”
“I think I may have sprained my leg or something.”
“Well you didn’t just sprain it this morning did you?”
“No I sprained it yesterday.”
“Well what am I supposed to say? You should have said something about it yesterday.”
“I know, but I thought it would be better today.”
“Well you thought wrong. Get here as soon as you can or find someone to take your place,” she said sharply. I wanted to keep a reputation that was somewhat good with her, since she was the boss of my boss and could easily have me fired.
“Alright, I’ll come in” I said and hung up. She had seemed like a nice, friendly person when I had first met her anyway. I painfully walked to the high school, since trying to ride my bike would have been dangerous. I disliked her greatly for expecting me to come to work when she knew I could barely even walk.
By the time I reached my office in the locker room, I was an hour late. As I sat in my chair, watching kids go in and out of the locker room, I thought more about my conversation with Deb. She had a point when she reprimanded me for not being as responsible as I should have. I realized that I shouldn’t be angry with her because it wasn’t her fault that I had hurt myself and then made a bad judgment call.
This incident taught me a valuable lesson. It showed me that when it comes to working in a real job, thinking ahead is always critical. If you need to miss a day of work, you must let your boss know as far in advance as possible so they are able to find someone to take your place.
Another effect of working as a locker room attendant was that it showed me that when people do things they know they shouldn’t, you have to be firm with them so they do not continue to do so.
The kids that came for the swimming classes in the morning were young, so many of them were accompanied by their parents. As a result, they were all generally well behaved. Jen had told me to make sure the kids did not get too wild, but it was never an issue in the morning. On the other hand, the kids that came in the afternoon were a completely different story.
I had to work the afternoon shift for a week because the person who normally took it had gone on vacation. Instead of sitting in the office I sat in during the morning, I was told to sit next to a small counter that was mounted on the wall, near the entrance of the locker room. Instead of having hardly any view of the lockers, I was looking strait down the rows. It would be much easier to make sure no one was stealing from the lockers and at the same time people would have to walk right pass me to get to the lockers, which would make sneaking in without paying impossible.
I arrived at the locker room at one o’clock, and for an hour only a few people came in. But at two, the locker room quickly became filled with kids that had come from a summer activities program that had been going on in another building. Unlike the kids in the morning, they were loud and obnoxious. I had heard the counselor calling the group of kids fourth graders, but when I listened to some of their conversations I found that hard to believe. These kids swear a lot for fourth graders....., I thought to myself. All of a sudden, one of the kids reached up to the counter I was sitting by and grabbed the bag of money that I had been using to collect admission. I expected him to do something silly like pretend he was stealing it and then give it back, but instead he just stood there with a grin on his face. “Alright, give it back” I said.
“Let me have the money in the bag, I’ll pay you back tomorrow.” It amazed me how the kid actually thought that would work.
“Yeah, like I’m going to believe that. Give it back or I’m going to have to tell your counselor,” I said trying to sound as authoritative as I could. The kid’s smile quickly faded.
“Hah, can’t get back from me by your self huh?” the kid said, followed by calling me a name, composed of expletives. He tossed me the bag at me and walked away. I still couldn’t believe that kids that small were already using language like that. The group of fourth graders cleared out of the locker room and went into the pool.
People steadily came in until three-thirty, a half an hour before closing. Around that time, the group of fourth graders had returned. Their loud talking, which was only amplified by the large amount of echoing in locker room was to give me a headache. Then I saw the kid who had taken the money bag earlier approaching. I sighed, him again.....I could tell he was going to cause more trouble because his foolish looking smile had returned and he was looking straight at me. I didn’t feel like dealing with him again, but his grin told me it was inevitable. I had to admit, he was brave. The kid was half my size, but he seemed to think he was much larger. The kid got changed and cleverly waited to make his next move. The counselor got changed and left the locker room, as he was leaving I contemplated whether or not to tell him about the boy who had taken the bag. Figuring that I would be able to handle a single fourth grader, I decided not to. The chair I was sitting on was the same one from the morning, I had dragged it out of the office and the door now lay open. Instead of going for the money bag, he went inside the office. “Hey! What are you doing in there?” I shouted towards him. He dug through the lost and found box and removed a watch.
“Whose watch is this?”
“Someone lost it, how am I supposed to know?”
“Can I just have it?”
“No, someone might come back for it.”
“Forget them. I’m going to take it.” He started to walk out of the locker room with the watch.
“No, you’re not taking that anywhere.” I grabbed him by the arm and forcefully pulled the watch out of his hand. “Now get out of here.” I went back in to the office to return the watch and when I came out; I noticed the money bag had been stolen again. I really don’t like that kid. The kid had run to the shower area. It seemed to me that he was more interested in bothering me than actually stealing anything. I chased him around the locker room for about thirty seconds before cornering him. Wanting to escape he opened the previously closed money bag and threw it at me. Money scattered everywhere and the kid ran off. I picked up the money and recounted it. I’m five dollars short! The kid had run away with some of the money after all. Extremely annoyed, I took five dollars out of my own wallet and put it in the bag.
This situation showed me that asserting yourself is extremely important, especially when if your job involves having kids around. Had I informed the kid’s consular instead of allowing him to get away with taking the money bag the first time and then on top of that swearing at me, I could have avoided the second confrontation completely and no money would have been lost.
By the time summer was over I had made around seven hundred dollars. Seeing the paychecks I received every month made me feel great. I was glad that my mom had helped me get the job, despite the fact being a locker room attendant had been unbelievably boring aside from the stolen money incident. I had made mistakes, regardless of the fact that my job couldn’t have been much simpler. But although my job was easy, it still taught me lessons that will be useful in future jobs.