My First Job

This is the 3rd post in a 6 week series joining Ginny who is guest posting at Mommy’s Piggy Tales hosting the Young Adult Years version to record your youth.

My first job

1997 Jenn

It was 1997, the October after graduating high school, when my mom said that it was time for me to get a job. She took a week off of work and drove me around to put in applications. I memorized my Social Security number that week.

I don’t remember all of the places that I applied to, but I remember 3 of them. I applied to The Deb and I think I may have even had an interview with them but never heard back from them after that. I was bummed about that one because I liked their clothes and thought it would be fun to work there. They had this really weird, tricky survey that you had to take that didn’t make any sense. It would have a statement like “I steal most of the time” and your options would be (1) I totally agree (2) I mostly agree (3) I don’t disagree…wait, what? No matter what I answer I look like a thief! Where is the option “I don’t steal anything at all ever…” It was very confusing and I think I answered all of the questions backwards and probably looked like the most honest thief that’s always late that they’ve ever interviewed.

I applied to Shop N’ Save and was called back for an interview. The interview went like this: The manager brought me over to a closed register and he bent over the conveyor belt looking at my application. He basically said, “We have an opening in the deli, when can you start?” Um, no thanks. I was very turned off by how unprofessional the “interview” was. I didn’t like the idea of having to work around deli meat all day and I was pretty much terrified of the giant slicing machine. I turned the job down. My mom understood.

The third place I applied to was Giant Eagle. I had an interview and got hired. This was my first job. I worked as a Front End cashier part time about 17 hours a week. I had them work my schedule around church so that I could still attend 3 times a week (Wednesdays, and twice on Sundays). We had to wear white tennis shoes and khaki pants with a navy blue smock. My smock was the smallest size they had but it was still huge on me since I was so tiny at the time.

My first paycheck

Popsicle Jenn: The Buggy Master
(This title is way more interesting than the story. I’m trying to keep you from falling asleep due to boredom.)
I became really good at bagging. Most of the time I preferred to bag my own stuff rather than having a bagger because I was so good at it. The bags always looked so nice, neat, and organized when I was done! One day when they had me bagging instead of cashiering they decided to enforce a new rule that each bagger had to take turns going outside to bring the buggies back in (usually the boys that were hired only as baggers did this). It was snowing outside and aside from a coat (with no hood) I didn’t bring anything to wear in the cold with me because I was a cashier and didn’t think I would be going outside until my shift ended. This was before the days of those fancy buggy collecting machines that they have at the supermarkets now. Being only 5’1 and 98 lbs I could only push 3 buggies at a time. As quickly as I could I cleared the whole parking lot of buggies. I’m not sure how long it took me (although I remember it being a pretty impressive time considering I was bringing them in only 3 at a time), but by the time I was done I was wet from snow and completely frozen. My hands were red and stiff and I could barely bag anything for a little while. I’m pretty sure that once the managers saw me they disbanded the new rule and went back to the way things were. At least I know that I never had to collect buggies again. And the peasants rejoiced.

A big man yells at me
During my time at the grocery store corporate put a new policy in place that ALL people buying cigarettes must be carded. We had to physically look at the id of each person buying cigarettes and then enter their birth date into the computer before the register would allow us to sell them. We were told to do this no matter what. Most people that were older than 18 thought it was funny and I heard, “Wow, I haven’t been carded in years!” a lot. I always explained to everyone first, “Corporate put a new policy in place where we need to check the id of every person buying cigarettes regardless of age. Could I please see your id?” Most everyone complied with no trouble. A few people grumbled, but still did it. But one man was furious with me. I told him about the policy. He laughed. I said, “Could I please see your id?” He said something like, “Now you can tell that I’m old enough to buy these and I’m not going to show you any id.” I explained the policy again, politely. He got louder. Eventually he was yelling something like, “You just sell me these cigarettes! This is ridiculous!” He was big. I was scared outta my mind. Eventually a manager finally came over. She explained the policy. She also explained that I didn’t have the authority to override the policy, but she did. She entered a fake birth date with out ever checking his id. I was glad that the whole experience was over, but I was honestly a little miffed that she didn’t insist on getting the id from him. Oh well. He was probably the oldest looking 15 year old I’ve ever seen and he got away with it 😉

I got an owie 😦
I injured my wrist somehow while I was working. I think it had something to do with the repetitive motion I made while scanning items (and I was pretty fast), but I would often have to wear a wrist brace. This wrist pain would end up bothering me for years. Our Giant Eagle had the kind of registers where the cashiers unloaded the buggies. The registers were set up differently than your typical one. You would push the cart right up to the cashier and then the front of the cart folded down. The cashier would take the item straight from the cart across the scanner and then on to the conveyor belt that was immediately to the left. I really liked this. The whole “checking out” process seemed to go so much faster because you were eliminating the whole step of waiting for the customer to put their items on the belt. This was particularly helpful when you had elderly customers. Eventually (some time after I left) the Giant Eagle was remodeled and they went back to the traditional register style and added a lot of self-check-out registers.

There’s a girl under those coats…
and she has no friends

While I got along well with a few of the male baggers, I never made any friends when I worked there. During my 15 minute break I would sit in the coat room and write letters to my boyfriend. Sometimes I would bring a sandwich or snack cake in there with me, but usually I just sat in there and wrote. The ladies coat room was right by the door to the ladies bathroom. I was always startling people that were going into the bathroom. Still it’s surprising how many people didn’t even see me sitting there underneath the coats.

Moving on…
I worked at Giant Eagle just shy of a year before I left to start a part time job at a new department store at the mall. This new job would be the one I would have for the next 5 years before becoming a homemaker. This new job would be a move that would lead me to eventually meet the man I was going to marry.

This certainly wasn’t the most interesting or exciting year of my life. It was almost difficult finding something to write about. I hope it wasn’t too boring! Now wake up…your snoring is scaring people away and you’re drooling on my blog.
(Oh wait…this boring post is scaring people away and that’s not drool, those are my tears. My bad.)

My Piggy Tales:
*My Birth Story: I’m always late!
*Ages 3-5: Dancing in a box
*Age 6 First Grade: There’s a bra in my lunchbox!
*Age 7 Second Grade: Bossy Wheels and Shady Deals
*Age 8 Third Grade: I will not talk in class
*Age 9 Fourth Grade: I didn’t really need those fingers anyway!
*Age 10 5th Grade: Nothing’s Scary in the Fifth Grade
*Age 11 6th Grade: Jenny Got Ran Over by her Grandma
*Age 12 7th Grade: Youth Camp Stinks
*Age 13 8th Grade: “Talent” Show
*Age 14 9th Grade: (N)O Christmas Tree
*Age 15 10th Grade: The Newsboys Wouldn’t Ditch Their Friends
*Age 16 11th Grade: Acrophobia Gets You the Good Seats
*Age 17 12th Grade: In School Suspension

My Young Adult Years
*Dreams and Aspirations: The Long Road There
*Friends and Fellowship: Friends Don’t Get Friends Grounded
*My First Job
*Colonel Mustard on a Rollercoaster with a Plastic Fork


Posted on October 25, 2010, in Flashbacks, Jenn, Mommy's Piggy Tales, The Young Adult Years and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Ha ha ha! Wish I would’ve been wise enough to turn down some of the jobs I was offered in the past! The big slicers aren’t all THAT scary. Just be glad you never had to slice liverwurst. That stuff is nasty! I had a big angry man yell at me too at one of my jobs (oh if only the big angry men would have known they’d be immortalized in the blogosphere…) I’ll have to blog about my experience sometime. I wasn’t aware of the Mommy’s Piggy Tales young adult years thing. Hmm…


    • Let me tell you…that big angry man was nothing compared to some of the big angry women that I dealt with once I began working at the department store. These adults really should be ashamed of themselves for the way that they carry on. If nothing else it’s made me the most polite and patient customer in the world!


  2. Love your story and your pay stub! I can’t say I have one from my first job. I remember when I had to memorize my SS# – my mom was so mad that we had to travel 45 min. BACK home to get my card because I didn’t know it. Our local CVs IGA store is set up similar to what you described. So glad you posted this story. Looking forward to next week!


    • Oh my, my mom would’ve been so upset if she had to drive back to get my card! She made sure I had everything before we left. I wasn’t even trying to memorize the number…it just kinda happened from all of the repetition!

      I had this post ready the night before, but then didn’t put it up because I thought,”Let me dig out my first paycheck to include in the post.” It took me hours because my computer and scanner weren’t cooperating with me!


  3. Fun stories! How neat that you still have your first paycheck!


  4. Jenn,
    This Mommy’s Piggy Tales thing is turning out to be very interesting. I love getting to know you this way and it brings up memories I have of my job hunts in my early teens.
    Keep the stories coming…they’re not boring at all. You’ve probably captured a lot of people’s attention with them.


    • Thanks, Donna! I really appreciate the feedback. I know that I like to read about other people’s lives. That’s what keeps me interested in a particular blogging is feeling like I know them personally. I was hoping that others would feel the same way about me 🙂 If you decide to write any “Piggy Tales”, I’ll definitely read them!

      I have 3 more posts coming in the Young Adult Series, but the Mommy’s Piggy Tales (birth-highschool) series lasts until January…so there’s more stories to come! I think I may ask Janna if I can join in on the new session that starts in February so that I can go back and write some other stories that I didn’t include this time around.


  5. When I was a waitress at Pizza Hut (my first job), I had a lot of people get mad at me because I couldn’t bring them their beer! I had to get a manager to bring it to the table because I wasn’t 21 yet.

    I wasn’t bored by your post at all! I loved reading about your first job!


    • Wow, I could see people getting mad about that. They really have no patience. I could never be a waitress. I have a bad attitude and probably would’ve told them “Settle down, drunks, it’ll be here soon enough!”

      Thanks for the comment. I was a little bored while writing the post 😉 so I figured it certainly wouldn’t interest anyone else, haha.


  6. I remember taking one of those crazy tests once. It hurt my head. And when I left I felt like a criminal with no morals. I also remember my first pay check. It’s sad when the real world hits ya in the face.


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