Gut Rumbles

January 23, 2006

my first job

I read this post and took a trip down Memory Lane, all the way back to My First Job. I'm not counting cutting grass, washing cars or running a paper route. I made money that way, but I never considered those real "jobs." They were more like chores for which I was paid, which was different from an actual job in my mind.

The first REAL job I worked where I drew a REAL paycheck, with taxes and FICA payments withheld, was in a fast-food restaurant called "Chip's Drive-In." I was 14 years old and I was paid 80 cents an hour. (That was pretty good money for a 14 year-old back in 1966.) I started out working a serving window and soon was promoted to Grill Cook, which boosted my pay to a whopping $1.05 an hour.

I thought I was a Tall Dog.

I learned a lot of valuable lessons on that job, things that served me well on every other job I ever had. I learned to follow a schedule, show up on time, do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, handle a cash register and deal with customers who sometimes were complete assholes. I learned to hustle and work hard. I cooked a pretty mean hamburger, too. I still remember those days very well.

I think everybody remembers that first job. What was YOURS?


After my father died, my maternal, parental unit was hired as a secretary for Southern Airways (later purchased by Hugh's Airwest, and re-named Rebuplic).
I did flght revisions for the pilots. I was 13. Scary, huh?

Posted by: Lil Toni on January 23, 2006 11:20 AM

Telemarketing. That is where discovered there are jobs worse than puffing mules for crack.

That's the one that's getting me into hell... not the whoring in Latin American countries.

Posted by: Big Daddy 2x4 on January 23, 2006 11:22 AM

Mine was working in an animal hospital at the age of 15. I cant recall what I was paid, but it was decent money for a 15 year old. Like you, I learned a lot of valuable lessons....I learned what it was like to get dirty, I learned to answer a telephone in a professional manner, make appts, screen calls, take messages...and I learned A LOT about pain and sickness (even if it was human in nature) Actually I learned a lot about human pain too, as many the day we had to console someone who had come in with a beloved pet, but was going home empty handed. It was hard to watch as people struggled so hard to maintain their composure.

I also learned that cars are not match for dog and that some people just shouldnt have pets. And I learned a lot about neglect and cruelty. It was one of the most fascinating jobs I have ever had.

Posted by: Ruth on January 23, 2006 11:23 AM

My first "real" job was in 1967 as a caddy at Bethpage State Park, a huge muni complex with five - count 'em - five eigtheen-hole golf courses. One of 'em was the Black course, where they had the U.S. Open in 2002.

I got $5.00 for schlepping a fully-loaded golf bag around 18 holes. If I was lucky, I might get a buck tip. If you really wanted to make some mazuma, you'd carry two bags at once and do two loops a day. Yeah, you could earn a double sawbuck a day that way, but only the most experienced caddies got a crack at the Double-Bag jobs.

Posted by: Elisson on January 23, 2006 11:27 AM

Cleaning out and restocking ice cream trucks. The kind tha made that soft ice cream, got to eat all I could make. Lost my appetite for ice cream shortly after.

Posted by: jamesoldguy on January 23, 2006 11:41 AM

Bag boy at a grocery store.

Posted by: lefty on January 23, 2006 11:41 AM

Working in a Georgia Pacific paper mill.

I packed skids of specialty paper for printing checks. This was in the summer of '65 and I got $1.05 an hour...$8.40 a day.

Who is this FICA guy and why is he taking all of my money. Now I spend that in a day for coffee and butts.

Posted by: bjbarron on January 23, 2006 11:50 AM

General labor for a small-time general contractor. I learned to pull wire, install studs, pour concrete, lay brick, and a whole wheelbarrel load of other skills that have come in handy for the previous 30 years.

I was 11 at the time. I pulled a full 40 hour week, but just in the summer.


Posted by: LamontCranston on January 23, 2006 01:17 PM

Worked as a busboy for a steakhouse in my hometown for $2.85/hour.

Posted by: Sarge on January 23, 2006 01:56 PM

At 13 I started washing dishes at a local resturant. I worked there until I was 18 and did almost everything, bussed and served tables, maitre'd, set up cook, salad and dessert cook. Everything except head chef. I worked with my brother, many cousins and many friends. The place has changed a bit but it is still there, doing well and a source of memories when I visit my folks who live right down the road from the place.

I made enough money to buy a '67 Camaro three months before I turned 16. Had to keep working too because the ol' man made us pay for our own insurance. There were not any free rides in my house.

Posted by: Dishonorable Schoolboy on January 23, 2006 01:56 PM

Worked for Sears, where ever they wanted me, made 3.35 /hr a full .20 over minimum. I sure thought I was the poop. That job taught me two things. One never argue with a customer. Two, one third of the people getting paid do two-thirds of the work.

Posted by: Terry on January 23, 2006 02:37 PM

Hardee's. Got that job to get out of the house, believe it or not. I was grounded that entire was my form of rebellion. I did a GREAT job at that place. They had no idea what going to that job did for me, I will ALWAYS be grateful for that job. I knew how to do everything but the manager's job before I left that place.

Posted by: Kelly on January 23, 2006 03:01 PM

Drug runner - carrying bricks of marijuana cross country on airplanes. --Just kidding-- that was about my fifth job. :-) Seriously, my first paid job was in my mother's hat shop but my first real work for strangers and get a real paycheck job was in this little printing shop that did direct mailing. I worked there the summer before I graduated high school. I started out on the mail room side with about a dozen older women. I started out collating, in those days you had a six people walking around a table picking up the various sheets and stuff that went together. By the time I left I had done everything from saddle stitch stapling to running the folder on the men's side of the little factory.

What I found out was that production workers don't like you if you do too good a job and make the lazy ones look bad. The woman who ran the shipping station absolutely hated me after they let me do her job while she was out for a few days. She was really mean to me the whole rest of the time I was there.

Posted by: Libby on January 23, 2006 03:03 PM

Telephone sales for extended appliance warranties.

Learned more by what I did wrong than right, but learned none-the-less....

Posted by: A Different Kim on January 23, 2006 03:07 PM

Sterilizing horse shit. I had a job in a nursery after school and summers while I was in Jr. hi from Sept. 1957 through fall of 1959. (Age 13 through 15) We got truckloads of horse manure that I and one other kid shovelled into mesh trays, then loaded into a big metal steam box. We turned on the live steam from an oil fired boiler to kill all the nasties. We could make four runs in a four hour shift. When we got a truckload done , we shovelled it into double walled paper sacks and sewed 'em shut on a sack sewing machine. Potting soil, don'cha' know. Fifty cents an hour and 10 cents a bag bonus for every bag over 500 in a week. Made big money, and learned to work smart instead of hard. I learned by the second week to do the tasks carefully, keep the area clean. Speed came quickly after that, and increased with practice. Joel and I got our paychecks in an envelope once a month with all the deductions repaid in cash in the same envelope. Probably illegal, but the two of us really moved a lot of product.

Posted by: Gerry N. on January 23, 2006 04:05 PM

While in high schooi. I worked at a golf driving range from 1959-61 in Toluca Lake, CA. Drove the picker-upper, shagged balls, and washed them outside in a old bathtub with a box of tide and a hose. The owner was Bob Hope's brother in law, and we had lots of movie stars as customers. The most obnoxious was the Skipper on Gilliigan's Island (Alan Hale Jr. ) who usually showed up drunk to hit a bucket of balls just when we were trying to close at night.

Posted by: Walt on January 23, 2006 04:18 PM

I was a skeet boy at a local skeet range. We had three ranges and it was my job to load the machines. Saturday and Sunday was league day and I worked 12 hours a day for 50 cents an hour. And got to shoot any opened boxes of shells at the end of the day.

Some days we would go through sixty to eighty cases of skeet.

Posted by: Pawpaw on January 23, 2006 04:51 PM

First paying job was summer of '59, washing dishes in a cafe in New Mexico. 6am till 2pm for $35/week.

First full-time job was USAF. Minority enlistment at 17. Dishwashing experience came in handy a couple of times.

Posted by: homebru on January 23, 2006 05:07 PM

At age 11, I started working at a gas station/convience store. Full time in the summer, 3-4 hrs a day during the school year, for $1.25 and hour, plus all the Dr Peppers I could drink. Thirty plus years later, still don't care for Dr Peppers.

Posted by: stratguy1961 on January 23, 2006 05:48 PM

I worked at a Gamecrazy for my first job. It was a video game store. Yeah, I'm a geek.

Posted by: Cythen on January 23, 2006 05:49 PM

1968, 13 yrs old, $1.35 an hour, min. wage, washing dishes in a hospital cafeteria. My first taxable income. Got fired for nailin the head cooks daughter in the women's restroom, on the lounge they had in there.

Posted by: Bane on January 23, 2006 06:00 PM

19 at a local Fine restaurant. Pay was 5.75 an hour and I was promoted fast. Atrition was horrible. Place employeed 55 people and I saw 38 employees quit in a 40 day period. Everybody worked hard but there was a bit of backstabbing and assholishness. Both the Kitchen Manager and owner/Main Maneger reminded me of Captain Sobel. They knew a few smart things, they definatly knew how to run men, but they knew jack shit about customer relations and common sense and exigent circumstances. Oh yes, several employee violations and I'm not taking about cheating the government, either.

That job was good and bad. Good in it gave me a good work ethic and really made me appreciate being proud of my work. Bad in that it hurt my self esteem for a long while and had me afraid of the workforce to the point I didn't work for nearly 2 years.

Posted by: Rhett on January 23, 2006 06:14 PM

Cooking in a little drive-in restaurant called "Mr. Chip's", after the owners son. I was 13 and started at, as I recall, at 65 cents an hour. Not bad for 1968. I aspired to $1.25 and a new motorcycle. The pay raises came but, alas, the motorcycle had to wait until I was 19. The car was more suitable to taking members of the opposite sex on dates, etc.

Posted by: Jim on January 23, 2006 06:37 PM

I was a mucker (horse shit shoveller) in a fancy shmancy big dollar horse stable with about 40-50 horses. Made a buck an hour to start. Had that job all through high school and though the pay wasn't great, the connections and experiences I made there have served me well ever since.

Posted by: marcl on January 23, 2006 07:19 PM

My first real job was cropping tobacco in Winnabow, North Carolina. I worked 10 hours a day for 5 days a week and got paid $35.00 a week. That's about 70 cents an hour.

Posted by: assrot on January 23, 2006 07:28 PM

Me: 16 years old, McDonalds for minimum wage ($3.35 or so back then).

Biggest accomplishment: stuffing 41 nuggets in a 20 piece box and sending it up for hungry friend on the other side of the counter.

Length of employment: 3 weeks

Reason for termination: Spraying water on the manager's jacket and sticking it in the deep freezer.

Posted by: rightisright on January 23, 2006 08:44 PM

My first job was during high school. I was a "page" at the public library making 75 cents an hour reshelving books in the children's area. Encyclopedia Brown and Curious George were good friends of mine.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip on January 23, 2006 09:04 PM

Pump Jockey at Art's Texaco. 13 years old at an even 1.00/hour 1966.

Posted by: jmon on January 23, 2006 10:04 PM

Waitressing/Hostessing for Shoney's...$2.01/hr + tips. That was over 20 years ago, but I still remember what I had to say when answering the phone..."Thank you for calling Shoney's Apalachicola Parkway. May I take your order please?" But I saved enought for a trip to Italy that year!!!!

(Bonus points for anyone who recognizes which southern college town that road is in!!!)

Posted by: DixieDarlin' on January 23, 2006 11:27 PM

After school and weekends "as needed" job in an "Advertising Distributor" place. (Junk Mail - mostly shopping circulars.)

Worked the tieing machines, bagged mail, tossed mailbags into trucks, metered mail, swept floors, etc. Started at $1.25/hr. and got my first and only raise when min wage went to $1.40/hr.

It was feast or famine. I'll never forget the week I brought home a $123 paycheck (after taxes). Worked some hours that week.

Posted by: StinKerr on January 24, 2006 09:16 AM

At 16 in 1964 I started work at Rich's Dept. Store at Lenox Square in Atlanta for $1.25 an hour. I was a stock clerk. We unloaded trucks in receiving and took it to the various departments. Met many gorgeous women..department stores seem to employ them. Worked there for 5 and a half years while in school till I went in the Army. I drove a red 1966 Opel Kadett. Anyone remember those?

Posted by: JPC on January 24, 2006 11:02 AM

On my 15th birthday, I went to the local country club and got a dishwasher job. Man, I was in heaven! I got to make things clean, got to eat the buffet leftovers, AND got paid. It was a hell of an education; buffet prep, line work, rolling kegs, lots and lots and lots of dishes.

My favorite story: one night, there was a particularly rowdy wedding reception. The boss told me to roll out a keg and step on it. I went back to the walk-in, and the only keg left was Genny Light. I grabbed it and rolled it out to the keg-o-rator, all the way across the hall. By the time I got to the other side, I had a line of drunks behind me, and they weren't shy about indicating their thirst. I opened the door and prepared to muscle in the keg, when this older gentleman put his hand on top of the keg and said, "You can't put that in there, that's bad holy water!" I said, "I'm sorry, sir, it's all that's left," and he immediately removed his hand and said, "GO." They drained that thing in record time.

Posted by: disconnect on January 24, 2006 11:12 AM

Moving and Storage, summer of '78, 16 years old. Five bucks an hour. 0430-???? six days a week.
My co-workers were ex-convicts who thought young boys were the "opposite sex"!

Made Marine Corps Boot camp (began three months later) seem pleasant and relaxing!

Posted by: dc on January 24, 2006 02:51 PM

At 13 or 14, in '53 or '54 I stocked shelves in a grocery store and worked in a filling station. I remember gas price wars when gas would get as low as $.18 a gallon. Can't remember which came first, but they were both $.50 an hour. Then I hit the big time when my buds came by and said, jump in the back, we got a job baling hay. Hemp-bound went about 60 #, but wet wire bales went 80 to 100 #. I weighed about 130. LOL. Sunrise to sunset at $1/hr. Farmers paid cash at the end of each day, $14-16. Wheeeeee! Only a couple weeks' worth at a time though. Worked at the state fair every summer in HS. Bunch of us lived in tents, unsupervised, on the fairgrounds, 60 miles from home. Would you let your 14-year-old do that nowadays? Ushered grandstand first year for $1 per, saw great music and standup comedy acts and horse, Indy car and cycle races. Mucked stables or picked up trash last 3 for $1.25. Thanks for stirring up memories of what a great time I had growing up, Rob.

Posted by: Larry on January 25, 2006 10:55 PM

Oh, I always looped for my Pop in tourneys, too. Pretty sure I was the only caddy he ever had. He paid me, but I'd have done it for nothing.

Posted by: Larry on January 25, 2006 10:58 PM

My first job was a lawn mowing service, where I gave them a price for the lawn, depending on how big it was, and then gave them a $2 discount if I could use a riding lawn mower. I was 13. Came in handy while buying video game.

Posted by: Captain Backfire on April 8, 2008 11:59 AM
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