Speaking Of Labor Day, What Was Your First Job?

Happy Labor Day. For my Canadian friends: Happy Labour Day!

Let’s talk about earning money.


My Mom was a waitress for a good part of her life and when I was eleven/twelve we moved from FL to GA. Bev had a hard time finding a job and ended up waitressing at The Waffle House while looking for something better; she was with Waffle House for sixteen years as a waitress/manager. I think she just gave up and settled down there. When I was twelve I worked as a Dishwasher there. I wasn’t officially employed, but the waitresses would give me a couple of dollars and then feed me something scattered, smothered and covered. If you know, you know.

Beverly and look who’s photobombing? That’s my brother Mark; she convinced him to work there for a while.


When I was Thirteen I sold Avon. Which is kind of a lie because I purchased more than I sold; THE MAKEUP!


I Scooped ice cream at Baskin Robbins and earned $2.50 an hour in 1981 at fourteen years old. The owners of the shop were HORRIBLE people. Mean. Cheap. Horrible. And I’m here to tell you that scooping ice cream is more challenging than it appears. This wasn’t soft serve; that’s for sissies. I looked it up and the minimum wage at that time was $3.35. Do you think I can get back pay?


I was in 10th grade and I’d moved back to Florida and was now living with my Dad. I needed a job because Phil didn’t care to share his income with me and this girl needed some fashion. I was a waitress/runner at Ponderosa Steakhouse; do you remember that place? It was buffet style dining. I worked my biscuits off; some weekends found me working double 8 hour shifts and when summer came I took a position at Marshalls that was in the same plaza and worked both jobs; some days I would walk from one to the other and change clothes. I ended up working at Ponderosa for about 2 years and stayed at Marshalls for about 3 years. I can’t remember why I ever left Marshalls because my butt sure as heck visits the one in my town at least once three times a month and I could use a discount!


After High School I attended Cosmetology College and the most interesting job I had happened while I was in beauty school. My friend Tanya’s Mom was a supervisor/manager for the Phone Company (Bell South? AT & T?)and there was a time when all the Operators went on strike. Tanya’s mom convinced us to go through the training and work as Operators until the strike was over. Ya’ll I was young and didn’t realize what was happening until Tanya and I arrived at the location and there were picketers all over the place and they were hollering SCABS!! at us as we drove into the parking lot.

I didn’t have a clue in what we were getting ourselves into. But hey, it paid well; I think $15 an hour. It was NOT an easy job. Was 911 a thing in Florida yet? I’m not sure, but I got a lot of emergency calls and some of them I can not get out of my head all these years later.

My first job as a hairstylist. I wonder if that lady tipped well? Fun fact: I still have that belt and I purchased it at Marshalls with my discount.

What was your first and/or most unusual job?

47 thoughts on “Speaking Of Labor Day, What Was Your First Job?

  1. mbmom11

    First job was working as maid for restaurant / hotel sort of place. My older siblings worked there and one summer they had my other sister and I start as the main cleaner was on vacation. I think I was 14? It was a quick walk from our house.
    Not an easy job, but there is no thrill to match finding some quarters in tips and getting an icy cold diet coke from the vending machine after the shift.
    We did find a suicide in the rooms once- very sad. But mostly learned that some people are really nice and some people live like pigs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. I bet that was eye-opening to humanity at fourteen!
      Finding a suicide victim? That must stay with you forever.
      I agree; people can be pigs. Not me. Not you. But the others!


  2. My first job was being a part-time dental assistant while I was in high school. The dentist trained me on the job. My most unusual job was being a computer coder in the 1970s. I worked for an at-that-time-very-high-tech organization which used computers to convert school text books into braille. The boss was male and the work force was all female university students. Our job was to handwrite the computer code onto the text book pages, then type the whole thing into the computer program, proofread the print version for accuracy, and then the boss would run the computer program which produced the braille version.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. A dental assistant seems like it would be pretty interesting. Well, if teeth/mouths didn’t make one queasy. Hey, weren’t you the one who couldn’t get enough of my baby teeth that I kept finding? 😜

      Computer work in the ’70s! You were at the forefront of the computer age. That job sounds so cool to me, and what a blessing for the blind.


  3. Bijoux

    This was fascinating to me! You had a lot of jobs! I babysat a lot between the ages of 12-17 for a family on my street. Their kids were terrible and they only paid me 75 cents an hour! Back then, you took what you got. When I was a senior, I got a job in the receiving room of a discount designer clothing chain (local). I think I made around $3.15/hour. The owners were a family and they were not nice people. I often worked 40+ hours during busy seasons and they tried to not pay us time and a half for overtime, which was against the law. One of the sisters was crazy. Stained clothing would be sent to the receiving room to be cleaned and we would see her spit on stains while trying to fix them. I had a few #metoo moments there as well. I lasted 3 years, only because jobs were very hard to come by in the early ‘80’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a few babysitting gigs, but kids were not my thing back then.

      The Clothing store sounds like it could have been a good gig aside from the owners. Spitting on stains? What did she have in her saliva that the rest of us don’t?
      I can’t imagine how many people didn’t get paid for work back then without so many ways to keep track of hours. Not to mention workers didn’t have so many rights, and we didn’t have so many litigious people.


  4. First job was working for Woolco Mens wear. I was in highschool and I think I had that job for at least two, maybe three years. I folded a heck of a lot of clothes. Woolco was a big department store and the menswear department was run by a separate company (so was the shoe section). I remember thinking I was in the money when I got a raise to $4.11 an hour!! -Jenn

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jenn. What an interesting rabbit hole you sent me down. We had Woolworths in our town, and I recall hearing Woolco, but don’t know that I ever shopped there. You were IN THE MONEY!


  5. My first job besides babysitting was at a place called Truens, which was a candy shop/soda fountain place. I did everything from scooping ice cream to cooking hamburgers! I also went to beauty school but had to quit because I couldn’t afford to go myself! Yes, the song from Grease “Beauty School Dropout” resonates with me!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My first job was helping out in my dad’s store – a Dutch import/delicatessen/grocery store type thing. I was barely 12 and really resented being yanked away from Saturday morning cartoons – hah! And I was never without some kind of job (part or full time) since, until I retired in 2019. Except for a few months here and there for maternity leave, or when the kids were toddlers…I tried to stay home with my kids at least until they were school age, but my then husband kept getting laid off so I’d be picking up temporary postings (mostly covering for other women’s maternity leaves at the lab I had worked at) to keep the family going. (At that time, maternity leave was only 17 weeks long in Canada, and now it is at least a year of paid leave.) Anyways, long story short I’ve “laboured” for the better part of 48 years!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve always been a worker bee and earned your retirement from all of your labouring! (I almost put labouring in quotes! HA!)

      I believe my maternity leave was six weeks. Seventeen weeks sounds like a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pat Birnie

    I did a LOT of babysitting & made decent money at it. When I was about 14 I started babysitting a family of 7 kids. The going rate then (1907) was 50 cents an hour but they paid double. I worked at the Canadian National Exhibition at 15 serving ( and eating a lot of) Lancia spaghetti in the food building. Next job was in a drugstore. I also went door to door collecting census info at about 15. I’d forgotten some of these jobs – it was fun to think about them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pat, you are doing well, considering you worked in 1907.
      HA. I knew it was a typo!!
      I missed out on babysitting gigs because I didn’t have that nurturing gene at that age.
      Can you imagine a 15-year-old going door to door now? You’d have to have an armed guard with you for protection.
      Sounds like a lot of us started working at a young age. No wonder we’re tired…


  8. This is a fun post, Suz. Um, you were a worker bee, Miss Busy Bee Suz. Goodness. I babysat a ton. My two older sisters were getting busy with high school, plus they were in high demand. I stepped in whenever they were busy and I was making bank. I loved babysitting- most of the time. Bonus if the people had Twinkies or good ice cream.

    My first ‘real’, non – babysitting job was Burger King. I worked there freshman year to midway thru senior year in high school. I have LOTS of stories about those years.

    My weirdest job was after college when a man I babysat for hired me to cold call restaurants and ask them if they needed their hood/ducts cleaned. He had a guy who used a power washer or something. Not sure the guy was properly trained. Of course I have some hilarious stories from that short stint. I believe the man I worked for went to jail, or was at least indicted for something to do with providing false documents claiming that he trained guys to do something (different than the hood/duct thing). Shady for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A worker bee, indeed, except worker bees tend to have only one job and you certainly had a whole spectrum of different jobs! I’m surprised you didn’t have my first job: shelving books… It didn’t pay much, but it did get me to love libraries for life 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I forgot that you shared before your Burger King High School Career. Of course, you were The Babysitter of Babysitters and you still are.

      So weird about the cold calling regarding hoods. I’m glad you didn’t go down with your former employee.


  9. nicoleboyhouse

    I remember Ponderosa! I waitressed a lot when I was in university, but I worked at Pizza Hut throughout high school. That was a brutally hard job and I think I made about $4.25 an hour. Maybe. My first job, other than babysitting, was a page at the library, where you reshelve books. It was super boring and paid I think $4 an hour. My weirdest job was a beer sample girl one summer when I was in university. I quit when they asked me to give out samples wearing only a Busch bathing suit, in a freezing cold place. NO THANK YOU SIRS. I had enough issues with gross guys as a beer sample girl, I needed more than a one-piece to get me through.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great topic for Labor Day! I might steal it for next year.
    My first job was babysitting and then, like you, my father hired me to work at a place where he was in management. It was a “family fun park” with go-karts, mini golf, batting cages, and an arcade. I was a dogsbody, doing everything from weeding to fixing machines to running the go-karts or bumper boats. It was an interesting job because I never knew what I was going to be doing when I showed up for a shift and I learned so many new skills!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My first job was a paper route, delivering the afternoon paper and Sunday morning paper to 43 customers. Then, babysitting for 75 cents an hour. I had a LOT of babysitting jobs throughout high school. After graduation I put myself through college as a bank teller at a local bank, floating among all its branches on weekends and during holiday breaks and summers. One of the branches was inside a department store, and I briefly worked there in its warehouse, pricing stuff. I also did a stint in its pet department, which I loved. I used to carry around hamsters or guinea pigs in my smock pocket.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A paper route. Kids these days have no idea what that even is!

      You were a worker bee, too, making things happen for yourself.
      I love that you had time in the pet department. For me, that would have been worse than selling (buying) Avon as I would have brought home some critters.


      1. Oh, I did! One guinea pig was very ill and sad. He seemed too little to be there. I carried him around all the time. Finally, the department manager told me I might as well just take him home since he may not make it. I grabbed all the stuff I needed and did just that. I named him Eric and he lived for years and years! He just needed…me.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. So many things, my friend. First and foremost, your post did not appear on my WordPress feed, rat bastards that they are. Thankfully, I now have Feedly…

    Second, I loved seeing the photo of your mother and brother. Seeing them both working there made me a little teary. I feel like that was possibly the happiest Waffle House EVER. We don’t have Waffle Houses up here, and I miss smothered, covered, and chopped (my order).

    When I was working full-time in retail, I used to sell Avon on the side. I also purchased more than I sold.

    My first job was babysitting at a ridiculously (illegally?) young age because it was the 1980s. My first actual job, though, was at the Golden Arches (aka McDonalds). I lasted two years because I really liked it. That, and I really liked the boyfriend I met there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WordPress isn’t a fan of Suzanne.

      It might have been the happiest (or silliest) Waffle house ever. In GA, there are almost as many Waffle Houses as humans. Ok, I made that up, but they are on every corner, worse than CVS or Walgreens.

      Mickey D’s!
      Does Ernie know that? I mean, she was Team Burger King. It’s like the Bloods and Crips all over again…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. First job was babysitting – – probably about 13 years old. We lived in a small town. Got paid about fifty cents an hour – – but double after midnight! This was about 1964. One of the most interesting jobs was working at the drugstore. In addition to items you would expect, it had a soda fountain. No bottled drinks. We did a squirt of syrup and then pulled the handle for the seltzer water. Customers used their straw to mix it. Ice cream sundaes were served in those cone-shaped paper dishes that sat in the metal holder/dish with the handle on it. We still sold penny candy and nickel candy. Also, nuts were sold by the pound and kept in a lighted case so they would be warmed by a lightbulb.
    That may have been the summer I worked three jobs – – school office ($1.65 hour), Grand Union (cashier and produce), and the drugstore.
    For two summers, I worked as a waitress at a boarding house in the Catskills (NY). I was a waitress for close to five more years at restaurants in Florida (Fat Boys BBQ, Dutch Pantry, & Howard Johnson).
    So many more jobs including driving a snowball truck one summer for a family in our church. God transitioned me to many office jobs – – – I did payroll at W.T. Grant. You may be too young to remember that one. I worked in church offices and you may remember when I retired, I had been our church’s paid librarian for fifteen years.
    This was a fun post – – going down memory lane.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my. You had so many exciting jobs.
      I DO remember the old-fashioned Soda Fountains. We had one in our town when I lived in Tucker, GA.
      It looks like almost everyone has done some time in the service industry; I believe that makes us better customers. Right?
      I loved Howard Johnsons. (Ho Jo) We used to go there for special occasions, and they had the best ice cream.
      I do remember you being at the Church Library. As a matter of fact, in my mind, you will always be Library Lynda. 🙂


  14. I remember Ponderosa! I always thought it was a step up from Sizzler, but I s’pose that isn’t saying much.

    My first job was working in a tropical fish store. I had an aquarium and knew a thing or two about fish, so actually, it was a great first job (even though the minimum wage was the same as you made – $3.35/hour). Working there, I learned so much, I actually graduated to a saltwater tank…while still in high school. I also got to feed moray eels by hand and worked with an interesting cast of characters; one lady named Janice was fond of eating raw meat. I’ll never forget her bringing in a slab of steak and shoveling it into her mouth uncooked.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. M

    Oh, what a fun post! You had a lot of different jobs, Suz! I’ve only had 4, including the one I have now.

    There was a job I applied for and got hired for — and I worked maybe 1day, 2days tops. I was not a good employee and just quit for no good reason and didn’t give them notice. I was hired, I thought, as an office person at an optical clinic but they trained me to do the intake and get patients ready. I had them read the eye chart, ask them about their concerns, etc. I was such an introvert — I never wanted to work with the public/customers so this was not a good fit for me! I can’t remember when that was — it was either the summer before junior year or before senior year in high school.

    I do know that the first job I had (that lasted more than 1day) was in a factory line cleaning rubber gaskets, the summer before my junior year in high school. I don’t know how I got that job…but I went with a high school friend and we carpooled and sat together to do the job so it was kinda fun for us since we talked all day long. Then I worked for the city (Planning Development) the summer before senior high school and the summer after senior high school. After the summer, they hired me as a receptionist for the city, working in the building where they rented out rooms for parties, etc. I worked there in the evenings the entire 4yrs I was in college. It was so slow on weeknights so they told me to bring my books so I can study — so boring! Weekend nights were more fun, seeing brides dressed in unusual outfits (the one that wore all-black gown was memorable!) and guests getting so drunk! Then I graduated, got hired by my company and have worked here since! I need more work experience! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would you believe that I worked as an Optical Technician at one point? At Visionworks. HA. I was there for over a year and enjoyed it but found something more enjoyable and lucrative.

      I can’t believe you’ve only had four jobs your entire life. I think that makes you a much more committed/loyal person. Right?

      Cleaning gaskets sounds boring unless you’re doing it with a friend. The community center does sound fun when events are happening. Thanks for chiming in!


      1. M

        When I think about that job and how I just quit, I feel bad for the clinic. I could’ve at least let them know why — but I was young and didn’t know how to communicate well/talk! I evidently got better because I was a receptionist and even if I didn’t know how to before that, I made myself feel more comfortable talking to people!

        I don’t know about being more committed/loyal — I think I was just happy with what I was doing. The 4yrs working in that center was good for me in that it kept me out of trouble (at night) and gave me time to do homework, etc. Then the current job: even though it wasn’t/isn’t the perfect job, it provided me a good work-life balance. I worked 16hrs a week for 10yrs when my son was born (I took 6months off after he was born then went back part-time) and we took long (4-weeks) vacation in the summer to try to escape TX heat and live with my family in SoCal. And then it’s like, “I’m so close to retirement and I really don’t mind what I do so I will just hang on!”

        Liked by 1 person

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