Our first jobs teach us the value of a dollar and the crap we have to put up with to earn that dollar.
Punch a time card. Be nice. Don’t steal the candy.
We start to amass data about what we do and don’t want to do when we grow up.
Watching the world share their #FirstSevenJobs has been thoroughly entertaining and enlightening — so many VPs were once babysitters, waiters and paper kids.
By and large, my first jobs were menial — meant to show me the value of hard work, a way to afford my Tiger Beat addiction and often, stamp-lickingly dull. As I counted, I realized all of them occurred before I’d even left college. There was no rhyme or reason to the mix of gigs, but they probably influenced me in ways I still don’t fully understand.
The things I recall about my #FirstSevenJobs have little to do with the job itself and more about the ways I avoided those jobs and/or found little deviant distractions in a strange new adult world. Look; I was a good kid, to a fault. I’m sure I learned good, life-enhancing skills at these jobs, but that’s not what springs to mind…
7 Accidental Crimes Learned From My First 7 Jobs
1. Babysitter/ “Hacker” — I didn’t have cable, but the family I babysat for had SelectTV, which aired over a scrambled UHF station; you paid for a decoder box to unscramble it. As a precocious 13-year-old, however, I learned that with a slight adjustment of the dial, sticking it in between stations gave you a fuzzy but watchable movie. Often “adult” R-rated movies. Mind=blown.
2. Admin/ “Paid Escort” — I worked for my mom at a historical preservation group in Philadelphia and, in addition to licking envelopes and filing papers, my mom enlisted me to be a teen host to young, dreamy sailors arriving on the Tall Ships. “We needed girls,” as my mom put it.
3. Candy store salesperson/ “Sugar Thief ” — At only 15 or so, I worked at Asher’s Candy and pined for Asher’s Almond Buttercrunch — and regularly sampled the wares.
4. Ice Cream hawker / “Wrongly-accused criminal” — I was accused, along with five others, of stealing someone’s paycheck. At 16, I was literally lined up with four teenagers while the shop owner yelled in our faces about “who did it.” Then he found he’d placed it under the cash register and had forgotten. No apology to us. To this day, I won’t go in there.
5. Dishwasher/ Not Dishwasher at Penn State — It lasted a week. There was no crime to be had here, save for not washing a single dish.
6. John Wanamaker’s Saleslady/ “Accomplice” — A summer job during college. I watched as another teen salesperson in the department store switched tags on sunglasses so she could buy them at a lower price. I did nothing. NOTHING! Oh, the guilt haunts me. (Not really.)
7. Writer and Editor at the Daily Collegian/ “Hack” — Finally, a job that related in some way to what I do now — even if it was usually pro bono (I took a paid job as a copyeditor there for the summer after school). But that gig was one of the best experiences during college. It was like a full-time job, more real-world and educational than the classes I was taking. The paper often bested the local daily. My only crime was some pretty goofy writing (nothing’s changed!) about the crazy questions Penn State operators get or whether Debbie Gibson was a PSU student and interviewing my roommates for stories. Lucky for me, its all archived online.
I’ve paid for my sins. I try to be a good person. But, occasionally, crime does pay.
This week’s job descriptions:
- Susan Ito finds love, life and hot UPS guys as a shipping clerk
- Lauren Young asks famous people about their firsts
- Lisa Brunette learns some pretty shitty lessons
- Kelly Wickham makes a better place for kids of color
- Wendy Scherer works in a magnet factory — and the experience sticks with her (har har)
- Robin Marshall learns everything she needs to know at a Vegas cosmetics counter
- Diane Di Costanzo learns who’s boss