In this series, writers from around the world have been sending in their recollections called “What I learned from my first job.” Today, we get to hear from Amy Young, who blogs at The Messy Middle. She’s a terrific writer who has been teaching in China for more than a decade. I met her at the Bear Clause writer’s group in Lakewood, CO, while she was visiting home and was impressed with her sensible, humble style. And it’s not too late for you. Got a memory you want to share? E-mail me here.
A Boss Who Actually Cared
There are many lessons from early jobs that have helped me in my “real” job
I started babysitting at age twelve and learned it is important to enjoy what you do. Earning a dollar an hour just wasn’t cutting it because it turns out I don’t really like watching other people’s kids.
Around age 14 my sister and I were hired to clean the toys in the church nursery weekly. The salary was insanely high for someone not yet 16 ($2.75 an hour! Compared to babysitting it was a gold mine). We were to fill a bucket, add some solution, and wipe down each toy. A parent would drop us off, wave and say they’d see us in two hours never suspecting that their little dears filled the bucket and then mostly sat on our butts chatting. To this day I am embarrassed. I learned that even if nobody knows the quality of your work and make certain assumptions based on your character, God sees.
Finally at age 16 I was able to earn minimum wage at $3.35 an hour and start paying taxes (not all lessons are fun). My first high paying job was at Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers. To say I loved it, is putting it mildly. I had a boss –not a parent, teacher, or babysitter but a BOSS — who trained me! People, does life get more exciting? I learned to use a fryer, stock a salad bar, make a frosty and put all the ingredients in the right order. I learned that there are people who are quite different from me and we can still find much to connect over. I learned that there are good people out there who will protect you and make sure you get safely to your car after closing hours and before they head off drinking. I learned and I learned and I learned. And that right there might be what I learned most: there is much to learn and a lot of it comes from being open and willing to try new things.
I’m a long way from those first jobs, but they live on in me. Turns out they were pretty real!