Sunday, September 1, 2019

What were your first jobs?

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

I love this old photo of our three sons taken back in the 1990s. I remember stopping them that hot summer morning, when they were leaving for work with RH, to take this photo. I also remember feeling so proud of the hard workers they were.

There's not much these three guys can't do--and their sister also! Only one is still working in the family business of roofing and remodeling, and he took it over a few years ago when RH went to semi-retirement and I retired fully from the bookkeeping and office end of it.

This picture made me start thinking about my first jobs. I wonder if any of you have as odd a resume as I did as a child?

When I was little my father was produce buyer for the Kroger grocery store chain in mid-Tennessee, and in October my little sisters and I would dress up in cute Dutch costumes from his Holland bulb rep, complete with wooden shoes.

Each Saturday that month we would go to different local Kroger stores in Nashville where a big spring bulb display was set up in the parking lot. Music played on the loudspeakers outside and my sister Deb and I passed out Dutch cookies to customers. Our little sister Teresa was in costume too, an adorable toddler holding tight to Mama's hand. My fourth sister Jenn was still only a future gleam in our father's eye.

I doubt if we got paid anything but we got to keep our costumes and eat cookies so we were happy.

I hated my second job but it only lasted a few weeks. When I was 15 my father found me a job as a sidewalk Easter Bunny for a local shopping mall where every bratty little boy pulled my fluffy tail as I handed out candy Easter eggs to children, hopping up and down the sidewalks outside the stores.

Thanks for that one, Daddy.

The next one was better, also found by my father for me with a man we went to church with who owned a soda fountain shop. I was good at this job and my milkshakes were to die for.

During my junior and senior year of high school I found myself a job for the month before Easter at a local dimestore owned by a wonderful couple who were so sweet to me. My job was to make up beautiful Easter baskets and I got to combine all kinds of toys and books with the candy in the baskets, add beautiful pastel colored cellophane to wrap them in and a big floppy bow at the top.

This skill came in handy later in life when we had four children.


Mr. Doochin tried his best to get me out on the floor waiting on customers after Easter was over but I was too shy for that. Later on they turned the store into an art supply store that I shopped at as long as they remained in business. And each time I went in, Mr. Doochin teased me about being too shy to wait on customers.

The summer I graduated from high school I went to work part-time in our church office. This was mostly volunteer work as my boss, the pastor's wife who was church secretary, assured me that I should be paying her in exchange for the office training she was giving me. That was fine with me because I knew she would be giving me a good reference to a job I wanted at a large religious publishing house in Nashville. 

Silly in love me, an engagement ring on my finger, wanted a job, not college. It wasn't until our first two children were in elementary school that I went to a community college.

I worked a few days a week that summer at church, typing and learning to run copies off on the large messy mimeograph machine. I learned to answer the telephone properly and be discreet enough not to discuss anything said on it with my friends. I listened to a lot of advice on proper business procedures and business etiquette. And each week I entered the Sunday offering amounts from envelopes into a ledger. One time I found a $20 bill in one envelope and gave it to Mrs. Harrison. She smiled a funny little smile but didn't say anything.

Later on in life I wondered if that had been a test. If so, I must have passed it because by September she helped me find a good job at the publishing house uptown as receptionist for one of the magazine departments where I got to type up accepted articles for the magazine after they had been proofed by an editorial assistant. 

After a year they transferred me to another department as a stenographer, a promotion. A couple of years later I passed the test for editorial assistant and was waiting for an opening for that when I decided to leave work when RH and I bought our first house and decided to start a family.

Those were my first jobs and I'm grateful for the experience of them--well, maybe not for the Easter Bunny impersonation. What were your first jobs? Any Easter Bunny embarrassing moments for you?

Happy Labor Day to RH and our four children, and Happy Labor Day to each of you!