How old were you when you had your first “real” job? I shared the story of my first job with my students the other day and they were amazed because I was practically the same age as them! In Pittsburgh, one of the big newspapers is called the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Local communities put out weekly editions of this paper with community news, and when I was younger, those local newspapers were delivered right to your doorstep every Wednesday afternoon by yours truly! Yes, that’s right, I was a newspaper delivery girl. 🙂
What the newspaper looks like now!
My brother, Alex, and I started this job when I was 9 and he was 7. My mom was not big on paying us to do chores because she said that taking care of our house was our responsibility as part of the family, not something that we could choose to do for money! I used to find that school of thought very annoying but now that I am a teacher and I am trying to teach small people how to take care of a classroom, I find myself agreeing with my mom. I do not want to reward them for things they should be doing anyway! Ha! Anyway, a teenager in our neighborhood had been delivering the newspapers for a few years and he was ready to apply for his TRUE first real job because he had just learned to drive. Alex and I used to watch at the front door for him to toss the paper on our front porch and when we learned he was giving up the route, we somehow convinced our mom that the job should become ours! The neighborhood we lived in at the time eventually had 250 houses, but we never delivered more than 110 papers. You had to subscribe to receive this paper, so we didn’t have to go to every house. Lucky us!
Every Wednesday while we were at school, the stacks of newspapers were delivered to our front porch. When we got home from school, we split the stack and rolled the papers to put in the plastic sleeves. We might walk the nearest houses their papers, but wait for it…our lovely mother drove us all around the neighborhood to deliver the rest of the papers. Not your usual ride. 😉 Hahaha!
Alex and I were very specific about who “got” which houses. We liked to deliver the same amount of newspapers so that we could evenly split our paycheck. When we first started our route, we had to go to everyone’s house and collect their monthly payment for the paper. We had a keyring with index card shaped pages on them where we wrote the person’s name and ripped off little pieces of paper as their receipt each month! It taught us a lot of responsibility because we not only had to find time to go to each person’s house, but we had to keep track of who was home and able to pay and who we had to go back to. Then, we had to send the money to the right people!
I have a lot of great memories from this job. We loved delivering the papers in the snow. We would dress up in our snow gear and get to “play” in everyone’s front yards as we tried to get to their front porches!
We also got really good at throwing the newspaper from a distance and actually making it land where we wanted it to haha! I also vividly remember tripping over a water meter in someone’s front yard as I was running back to the car and landing in a big X on the ground. Then, I slid in that big X on my face through the grass and over the curb. When I picked up my head, I hit it off the side of the car…because remember, my mom was driving us. Needless to say, I was glad this accident happened in the summer because I had some serious scrapes on my face! Then a few years later, there was a contest among all the newspaper delivery kids/teenagers to see who could get the most new families to sign up to receive the paper! I was in the top three for this contest and actually got my picture taken with the other winners. Don’t worry, I did a quick Google search for the picture. No such luck. 🙂
I kept this job from third grade to eleventh grade and then passed it off to my younger brothers. We started delivering just 65 papers and by the time we were done years later, we were delivering more than 100! We never had the chance to pass our route off to anyone because by the time Jake was starting to be in charge of it all by himself, the newpaper company was changing its policy to deliver papers to everyone’s home by mail. Much more cost effective or something. Ha!
Other jobs that I would consider my “first” jobs are taking care of the yard at my Grandma and Pap Pap’s house and working at the concession stand at our town’s baseball fields. I consider them first jobs because I did them before I was 16, which is the typical working age in Pennsylvania. My Grandma and Pap Pap live on several acres of land and we all grew up watching my Pap Pap spend hours cutting the grass every weekend. He loved it! Once we were older and my Pap Pap was no longer around, my cousin and I would tag team the yard on the riding lawn mowers. Our younger brothers did their share of work too once me and CJ were older and now Jake does it ALL all by himself!
Unrelated picture of me and my cousin CJ because it’s my favorite. We definitely were not cutting the grass at this age. 🙂
My aunt would work in the yard while my Grandma worked near the porch and watched us as we cut. I used to get yelled at for driving too fast. My Grandma always used to say that she could hear me singing. I would drive around with headphones in and that lawn mower is LOUD so I didn’t think anyone could hear me. Hahaha!
And finally, my job at the concession stand…well, that job allowed me to hang out at the baseball and softball fields and see my friends without being required to play. 🙂 I was the world’s worst softball player and was known to volunteer myself to sit on the bench if we had extra players! My brother and my cousins all played baseball from the time they were kids through high school, so there were lots of games to be watched. My mom convinced me that since I was at the fields anyway, I should be the one to help sell snacks!
There was one bigger concession stand that had “real” food (think food that is grilled or baked in an oven) and two smaller concession stands that were just snacks and soft pretzels that were microwaved (yum!). I used to read when I was assigned to work at the smaller concession stands because they only served two fields each, so unless someone was ordering food or coming to visit me, there wasn’t much to do…and my phone didn’t have text messaging yet. Ha!
I worked this job until I was a junior in high school and I really worked my way up the ladder! In the last few years, I had keys to the main concession stand and I was considered one of the managers. Of course, there were always adults there to supervise, but I was in charge of driving workers to the smaller concession stands on the golf cart (my favorite part), making sure each stand was stocked with the food and snacks it needed, counting money up at the end of the night, cleaning and organizing when necessary, and of course serving customers, too. I stopped working this job when I was about to turn 18 because that meant I could finally apply for a job at the mall! American Eagle was the next stop on my job list. 🙂
Random tangent: my favorite thing about writing this post was I have no pictures to show for it. Apparently before everyone had a smart phone, we did not take pictures of our every move. You will just have to take my word for it. 🙂
What was your first job(s)?