Monday, June 30, 2014

First Jobs--Theodore

 I'm beginning a new series, First Jobs, in which I ask people about their first work experiences.
Today, Theo is going to tell you about his first job. 

Tell me about your first job.
My first job was at the local grocery store. I worked there about a year until I went away to college.

Theo ready to go to work at the grocery store.
What did you do?
My main job was being a cashier. When things were slow, I would also clean and put things back on shelves that people didn't want. I wish I had been older so that I had had a chance to do some of the more interesting jobs like using a butchering saw or driving a forklift. And there was this really neat looking trash compacter I wanted to try. However since I was underage, I wasn't allowed to touch any of those '"dangerous" things.

Why did you get that job?
The store was across the street from the high school and a lot of other kids I knew worked there. I think it was the store's business model to hire a lot of young, cheap labor. Also, the job was convenient because I could walk to work after school.

Did you like working with other teenagers?
It was okay, however sometimes there were problems with some of my classmates as managers. They didn't have much experience and didn't always manage very well. I particularly didn't like it when they wouldn't give me a break even though the rules said that I should have one. That made it really hard when I had to go to the bathroom.

Back to putting away things customers didn't want. I've always wondered, what did you do with items that were refrigerated or frozen?
The official rule was you could only put it back if you saw the customer put the item down. Otherwise, you had to throw it away. The practical rule was if it still felt cold you could put it back.
Okay. I'm not sure if I feel better or not about that.

What did you like about the job?
I liked the act of scanning things and the puzzle of how to best pack things into the bag. It was a little bit like Tetris.

What did you dislike about the job?
I disliked it when customers yelled at me.

What did they yell at you about?
Usually it was when they didn't have enough money to pay for what they had picked out. They would be embarrassed and tell me things like, "Don't look at me," and "The prices should have been better marked."

How did you handle that?
I let them vent a little then said, “I'm sorry, but what are you actually going to be buying today?” I had to keep the line moving.

What did you use your money for?
I bought a laptop that I later took to college with me.

What did you learn from the job?
I learned that your attitude determines how your day's going to be. I also learned that everyone has their own circumstances and you can't judge people by a two minute interaction. Actually, I already knew that, but I got a lot of chances to practice that on this job.

Thanks for your story, Theo. Soon, I hope to interview you about your first “real” job out of school. :)


  1. Jobs for teenagers are so important. School isn't the only place where you can learn something useful!

    I worked as a cook at a camp--I started at 15--I was happy when I turned 18 (I worked there for several summers) and was allowed to use the meat slicer, so I can relate to Theo's desire to use the bigger equipment.

    1. Kris,
      When you did your camp cooking job, did you live at the camp? Also, I agree, there is so much to be learned outside of the classroom.

  2. Yes, I did. I had attended the camp once or twice as a camper so I was familiar with it. The summer I was 15, a kitchen helper quit her job mid-summer. One of my friends was working there and recommended me as a possible employee. I worked the remainder of my high school years there and for several summers in college. Living at the camp was a great growing-up experience for me. I could "stretch my wings" in a safe environment and I made a lot of friends. I also developed more self-confidence than I think I would have if I had been living at home. I was an extremely shy teenager so that was important for me.

    1. I think stretching your wings in a safe environment is an important point. Sometimes there's not a chance to stretch wings until college and there's a lot more at stake there. However, there is a lot of important learning that goes on in college--more of it outside the classroom than in.

  3. Great lessons learned. Love the bag packing comparison to tetris!

    1. As a parent, I was glad to hear about some of his lessons learned.


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