Gainful Employment ‘R Us

Today’s challenge is to remember my first job, including how much I was paid. That’s a tougher question than you might think.

Was my first job when I used to iron clothes for people, mostly extended family members? If so, then I was paid between a dime and a quarter per piece, depending on size and difficulty.

Or was my first job when I went to graduate school on a teaching assistantship? Mostly I got to take classes for free, but I was paid some small pittance. I honestly can’t remember how much it was, but I remember than mac and cheese was four boxes for a dollar back then. I ate a LOT of mac and cheese in grad school.

I guess you could call selling Avon right after I finished grad school my first job, but to be honest, I was possibly the worst Avon salesperson in the history of the company. I sold plenty of Avon – don’t get me wrong. I had very good sales. Problem was, I felt bad for my customers, who were pretty much all as poor as me, so I sold it all at cost. Yep, I sold a fair amount of goods and didn’t make a penny. I suppose I should have known at that point that I was never going to be a successful capitalist.

After that, I worked the evening shift at a quickie mart for a while. Don’t remember how much I got paid there, either, although I suspect it wasn’t much. I had fun, though. You learn interesting things about your town when you’re working the night shift at (the then) only quikmart open all night.

I worked for a local school system for two years, one as a support staff person who tried to teach teachers how to incorporate new-fangled videos into their teaching. The other year was as a teacher of remedial reading to ninth-graders who had somehow gotten that far in school and never learned to read functionally. That was an educational year for me. I learned that although I love teaching, I don’t love all teaching equally. I came to understand that when I went home trembling at the end of the day and found myself actually hoping some of my students might get hurt or arrested so they wouldn’t come back to class, I was probably in the wrong place. Yep.

So then I got into the newspaper biz, by stumbling head-first into an ads sales job that I was in no way qualified for, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As for how much I was paid… Let’s call the newspaper job my first real job. As I recall, I was paid something like $150 week, more or less. That might be a little high. I was renting a small house from my great-aunt for $100/month, and rent, car upkeep, utilities, and food kept me pretty much living from check to check. Sometimes even falling behind.

Different time. Different me. The world was less complicated then, it seems in memory. But it was rich, and I was happy. What more can a person ask?

 

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