No skein, no gain

All this week, the Today show has been running a series in which the hosts revisit their first jobs. Whether delivering newspapers, babysitting, cleaning pet store cages, stocking grocery shelves or teaching dance, hosts shared what drew them into their first jobs and what challenges and rewards they had experienced. Some even talked about how much they were paid.

What was your first job? What obstacles did you overcome and what reward did you reap?

I too was a babysitter for years, from age 12 up until the day I got engaged. Even in college, I used to line up my New Years Eve gigs well in advance. Even though my wage at retirement was $3 an hour, I did what most highly paid nannies did and more.

Aside from that, though, my very first job was working as a bus girl at a hotel restaurant in Virginia Beach. I cleared dirty dishes and cleaned tables for a dollar an hour plus tips. Only there were no tips.

My second job was at a place called—you’ll love the name—VIP Yarns. Why did I choose to work there? Because I didn’t have a car and I could walk to the store. In an early Word Nymph post, I talked about what happened when I lied and told them I knew how to do all kinds of needlework. That was probably the last lie I ever told. Actually the story is that, once I realized I needed actual skills, I asked my friend’s nine-year-old sister, who had just gotten a Girl Scout merit badge for needlecraft, to teach me. Thank you, Little Susie Lewis, wherever you are.

Thinking back, I wonder if breathing in all those yarn fibers contributed to my battle with chronic bronchitis. Or my 30-year battle with crafts.

I was the youngest employee at that VIP Yarns store, by about 40 years. And just for the record, I wasn’t fired. I was part of a 20 percent reduction in force, when the store went from five employees down to four. There went $2.35 an hour.

We’ll just say I never attained VIP status.


Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas

10 responses to “No skein, no gain

  1. Pat Abrams

    I helped out at a home for unwed mothers to be. I worked 2 hours after school for no money, but the nuns told me I was feathering my nest in heaven.
    I am banking on that.

  2. Deirdre

    Chambermaid. I got fired.

  3. William Greene

    Eastover Esso 1958 – While all the American Grafitti types were driving in for two dollars of gas, check the oil and clean the windshield on their dad’s car, I was the uniformed, smiling Esso employee who greeted all with “How’s it going for you today?” $1.00 per hour. No tips. Better than the Washington Times Herald paper route at age 13. Lifetime lesson not wanting to do manual labor for a living.

    Haley’s Ford 1959 – Youngest car salesman in D.C. at age 18, selling enough new Fords and Falcons to pay for college for two years. Lifetime lesson not wanting to depend on commissions to eat and play, but loved the new cars.

    These experiences overcame my insecurities and taught me that I could do whatever I really wanted to do, and that I could leave it when I wished.

  4. First jobs were done “out of the goodness of my heart” as our Dad used to say when we asked what we would get for doing a job he wanted done. I do recall one of us complaining that, “My heart’s not that good!”
    Next came babysitting. First real job with paycheck and taxes was at an ice skating place. At age 14 I was doing everything from snack bar, to skate rental to selecting and negotiating with bands to come in and play on Friday nights-something they had never thought of doing before-and we packed the place!
    First really great boss was David Drake at Wildflowers at Livingston Mall, his approach was to show you another way to do something that might work better for you. I still chop onions the way he taught me. He also showed us how humor was an essential part of the workday! Thanks for the subject Monica, fun memories.

  5. Janet

    I’m sad to see in today’s post, one of my pet peeves. You used the term “first ever”. A tear slid down my cheek. Isn’t that redundant? Or am I wrong?

  6. Janet

    I meant “very first” oops. Same sentiment though.

    • You are right, Janet. Mea culpa. I am not sure it is redundant, although “first” may be considered an absolute adjective, like unique, which should not be preceded by “very.” As I have been researching this, I do not see “first” listed as an absolute adjective, but then again I have not been able to find a complete list. You are correct to point out that there can be only one first. You have also given me an idea for a future post. Thanks for your comment. And sorry about the tears.

  7. Marty

    My first job was as a bill collector for Hudson’s Department Store. On Saturdays, I would drive around town, knocking on doors, and try to collect on delinquent accounts. I could tell you some stories, but those will have to wait for now.

    Another early job was being a part of a peach picking crew. The company put a bunch of us on a bus, drove us to an orchard, gave us large bags, and instructed us relative to the art of picking. The company fired the entire crew at lunch owing to the large peach throwing fight that we had. They put us back on the bus and sent us each of us home with a bag of peaches.

  8. Pingback: Dream on « Word Nymph

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