Jobs I was too young for

I don't know what got me thinking of my first jobs this morning. It must have something to do with feeling too old for my job today. Just can't keep up with all these young whippersnappers and all their crazy technology and dance moves.

Nowadays, the only job I'm too young for is WalMart greeter. But when I was in my early 20's. I must have impressed people with my responsibility because they gave me jobs I was not ready for.

My first jobs were in a grocery store. I bagged groceries way back when that was a service they provided and then I became a checker, back when everything had a price stamped on it and you had to key in the price into what amounted to a huge adding machine that held bills in the bottom. And, I stocked and mopped and did other odd jobs, like cleaning the coolers of the old milk stink. I lost that job because I have a big ole' mouth that used to get me in a lot more trouble.

My next job was supervisor of cashiers at a new grocery store that was opening. That was a good job. I did all the training for my cashiers. We were going to have the newest state of the art laser scanning technology and I had to learn to use it, program it, and train it. And, I ran a tight ship, scheduling people when they were needed and keeping them motivated. The store opened like gangbusters and I had to keep every register staffed and then things dropped off. The store brought in a new manager and he brought in his own people and all of us that were there to open the store got demoted from our good positions. And, I quit that one because I didn't see the point in taking a demotion to keep a good paying job. My, how things have changed and oh for an economy where you can leave a job because you don't like it.

After that, I worked for a couple that had just had twin boys. Now, this was my first job I was too young for. For heaven's sake, who would leave twin infants alone with a 20 year old? That is not a job for the young. That requires timing and focus and young people are not well known for either of those. I did it for several months and then they hired a nanny and let me go. I don't quite know why, but Lord knows, it doesn't matter now. It was too much responsibility for me.

After that, I worked for the Association of Retarded Citizens in a supervised apartment program. I lived in an apartment on the weekends and around that apartment, were several others, rented by the agency, and used to house two mildly mentally challenged young adults in each. I helped with their bank accounts, their grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, transportation and Saturday night fun events, like bowling and games and movies. Because it was just weekend work, I was free to attend school during the week.

It was a big job and a lot of work. And, I was in my early 20's. Way too young for so much responsibility. I did that for a couple of years, helping out and watching kids move on to less and less supervised housing and then out of the program to live on their own. More than once, I had to have a "birds and the bees" discussion with someone that didn't understand why they felt they way they did. And, more than once, I saw them kicked out of the program for an inability to fit into society's norms...oddly enough, norms that most of society is not required to fit to. But, they were.

There were lots of fun times. I had lots of friends in the group and spent all the weekends with them. I remember that in college, I decided to keep my lab rat. What a mistake. I couldn't take care of it. And, one of the girls in the group wanted it, so I gave it to her. That was on the weekend. On Monday, I got a call from the supervisor to come get my rat...TODAY!

There were perhaps 20 people in the group. And, there was a lady and her family that stayed in the apartment during the week, doing the same things I was on the weekends. The group was varied. There was an older guy, maybe in his 50's and there were younger people, in their early 20's. They all had jobs during the week and they got money from the government. And, they had to be responsible with their money and if they ran out, then they sat out the weekend events. If too many of them ran out, then I made the weekend event something free, like a movie on the VCR and micro popcorn. Sometimes, we'd go to a local group home and spend the evening doing something with the girls there. And, there was more than one dance we attended. Nobody danced with the abandon of this group.

Then, it was time to move on and they threw me a going away party and invited my family. It was sad and I have lots of pictures from that night and from the days I worked there. Everybody wanted me to have a picture of them and me so I could remember them. Now, their names are gone from memory, but their faces are still there. I haven't looked at those pictures in years, but I can still see their faces and remember their private issues that I helped with.

I taught them a lot. And, they taught me a lot. But, I was so young that my heart wasn't really in it. I was looking for my own fun times. I wonder, based on who I am at this point in my life, if given the same opportunity, would I be good at it?

I think so. I think I'd be really good at teaching people in such an informal setting. And, they asked so little of me. Just a chance to show them how "normal" people lived. And, of course, the biggest thing they needed me for was protection against possible predators. That could get difficult because they didn't recognize predatory behavior.

So, how's that for a Way Back Wednesday post?

Still working on hexagons. I bought new fabric last night. Idiot me! And, not cheap fabric either. I went to the LQS and bought two large pieces. I got them home and laid them in the floor and saw that one of them was the same color as one I already had. Idiot, idiot, idiot. But, it's done now and they don't take returns and I do like the print better than the one I already had. This morning, i started cutting out more paper hexes. Just wondering how long I'll work on this before I get bored again and move on to something else. We'll see.



oldbatt said...

What a great post Lane. Now that I look back I LOVED some of my first jobs. Cashier at a hardware store but waitressing was what I really loved - the people and the laughter! It was a lot of hard work and I still have "waitress" dreams where I can never catch up but boy was it fun! I miss that about my days now sitting at a computer but I have the great memories too. Best, Lisa

Hazel said...

What a special person you are ,to work with the less fortunate takes a special kind of person .I'm sure they all loved you as much as we do .My daughter did this kind of work so I know it can be challenging at times.

Coloradolady said...

This post sure had me thinking about my past jobs and for the most part the love I had for them....it also had me wondering why my current job is such a challenge and a struggle....something to think about for sure, but like you said...in this economy..... :(

Michelle said...

You have a gift. It takes someone special to work with the challenged. God bless you. I could never do it. Hearing about your jobs was interesting. Thanks!

lw said...

I like the part where you remember the faces and the troubles but not the names. I have had a lot of jobs and I still miss the people I worked with; some of the names I remember and some I don't, but I really enjoyed knowing and working alongside them.