I never babysat as a kid (which might explain why I was so unprepared for motherhood.) I did work once a month for mom stuffing billing statements into envelopes. And I cleaned house for my skating pro in exchange for skating lessons. But the first real live job I had myself was at Woolworth’s Drug Store in the Park ‘n Shop center in Concord.

(No, this isn’t the one I worked at. I don’t even know if it is still there anymore.)

Why Woolworths? Because they had animals in the back of the store.

They had fish, which I thought were kind of boring but they WERE animals.

They had turtles which I really loved.

And they sold this little plastic lagoons which I know are horrible for them but I confess that as a child in the sixties, I had some.

And they had lots and lots of birds like these which I could watch for hours.

When I went to apply for the job I had to meet with the manager, Mr. G. He was tall and wore dark rimmed glasses and looked like a science teacher. He had a thick accent from some slavic country. He didn’t like the idea of hiring a girl but he needed help. He said a classmate of mine was applying as well, Vint Vastine.

Mr. G asked me a lot of questions and I must have answered them okay because then he took me over to show me the most important thing in the store.

It wasn’t quite that old of a cash register but it sure wasn’t one of those new-fangled computer ones. He showed me how the cash register worked and how to make change. You always counted the change back to the person to end up with what they gave you. If they gave you $5.00 and their total was $2.97 you had to count back, $2.98, $2.99 when you put the pennies in their hand, then $3.00, then $4.00 then $5.00. He said you always put the change in first. To this day what irks me about people making change (ESPECIALLY in the drive-through) is people give you the paper money and then try to balance the change on top. And they NEVER count it back.

Before he would hire me, Mr. G gave me a math test. But not on paper. I had to do it my head. Fast. I passed but not with the flying colors that my classmate, Vint Vastine got on the same test. Vint got to work the cash register and take care of the animals and I was sent over to the lunch counter to wait tables. Sigh.

The only good thing about that was that I learned how to make one of these:

The gal who ran the lunch counter didn’t care for me being there. She was an old-timer and she got all the tips. I did clean-up and filled sodas. I didn’t stay there very long. I took a job at Bob’s Big Hamburgers. It wasn’t a chain, just a little hole-in-the-wall place that made single, double and triple hamburgers dripping in barbecue sauce. Boy they were good. We’d leave the sauce simmering on the fire and cook up the burgers then dunk the entire burger in the sauce before we put it on the bun. My friend Linda Belcher worked there too and we had a lot of fun working together and having our current boyfriends meet us at back for quick breaks.

I remember dating someone name KC (can’t remember his last name) who drove a black El Camino and for some reason the song Old Black Water by the Doobie Brothers always makes me think of him.

The hamburger place was right next to Dutch Pride dairy, the only drive-through dairy in town. It was also the place that Dennis (also can’t remember his last name) worked. Dennis drove a bright orange Ford Fairlane (50s? 60s?) I think his dad worked at the same car dealership as my mom. The dairy had a huge walk-in freezer which was also nice for, ahem, quick breaks, during the short time I dated Dennis.

(Laura, just so you know, when I started this post it was just about Woolworths and Mr. G. I remembered the rest as I was writing it out.) (And Jama, I haven’t forgotten I owe you a picture of Simon.)

I didn’t last long in the food industry. Lousy hours and pay and not enough time for boys. I stopped working until after high school where I promptly went into the exciting field of corporate accounting. But I’ll save that for another time.

Your turn. What do you remember about your first job?