photo by Kevin Bhagat via Unsplash

Teens and Jobs: Lessons to be Learned

April 2015

When I was 16 I started my first “official” job, I had babysat for countless families since before I was even able to open a locker, but this was different. This job had a real uniform, a hat and a check that came every two weeks and gave a significant portion of my pay to someone called FICA. I was in heaven…For about two-weeks.

My first job was in a pizza joint, after every shift I came home smelling like pepperoni and garlic; with mascara running down my face a tragic result of the onions I'd prepped for the next day’s shift. I wasn't cut out for the pizza business. My mind wandered while I was on shift to those classmates who were at Friday night football games, watching movies with friends, or just cruising 24th while I was spreading tomato sauce and scraping the never-ending mozzarella from underneath my fingernails.

I did learn a few things while slinging dough that I still try to live by today.

  1. Be on time. Someone is waiting for you to leave their shift or open their doors, or any number of things, and your timeliness is something that people expect and appreciate.
  2. Keep your promises, make sure your yeses are yeses and your no’s are no’s. No one likes someone who is inconsistent and flaky. Do the job, even if you don’t like it and do the best job you can.
  3. Smile, even if you don’t want to—fake it. If you fake it long enough, you’ll even fool yourself.

I swore that when I had my own kids I would never make them work for their gas money and most certainly never make them spend their Friday nights weighing out cheese on a food-grade scale. Now that my son is closing in on the age to find a job and his tastes are becoming more and more expensive, I find myself looking at things from a different perspective.

“Hey son, you know the neighbor who asked you to mow their lawn; go do it! Oh and Your grandma wants hers mowed too.”

This broke mama will happily drive my expensive teenager to a few homes who’ve asked him to mow, and he can earn the money he thinks he needs to afford the lifestyle that he wants; until that wonderful day when he’s able to get a job with a uniform, and he meets that ever-elusive guy named FICA who steals his hard-earned money.

Isn’t it ironic how many things that I swore I wouldn’t do when I became a parent, that I am doing….Famous last words, I guess?