I got my first job when I was a sophomore in high school.
I babysat from the young age of 12. But that doesn’t count for this blog entry.
When I was one month shy of my 16th birthday, I got a job at Dairy Queen. They were a seasonal business so it meant that hired me on at $4.00 an hour (back in the day, $4.25 was minimum wage). $4.00. You can’t hardly buy a cup of fancy coffee for $4.00…Once I could pass the test, I would be bumped up to minimum wage. Because I was 15, I had to leave by 9:00 every night. Once I turned 16, I could stay all the way until close.
Anyway, I got a purple shirt with the Dairy Queen logo that I had to wear with Khakis and tennis shoes. I learned how to make the dilly bars and dip the cones. I learned how to assemble chili cheese dogs. I learned the wonders of Blizzard mixing and malt making. I learned how to make the trademark curlyQ on the top of the cones.
One time, I was working the front register and I made an ice cream cone for a customer. I turned and handed the cone to the customer and started to take the next order. The customer giving her order became quite distracted and began to gesture that I should turn around.
I had left the lever down on the ice cream machine. Vanilla ice cream was piling up on the floor.
I wasn’t exactly good at my Dairy Queen job.
One important thing I had to learn at that job was how to count back change the right way. No just telling the customer how much I was giving her–I had to count the change from the amount she owed up to the amount she gave me. That skill has served me well over the years. I also loved working the drive-thru. I loved wearing the headset and running the cash register and talking to customers through the window.
But I was always sticky. Always. And that test was hard, by the way. And I kind of wasn’t exactly cut out for frozen food service.
So I quit and got a job at a Hallmark Store and that was like a teenage employment match made in heaven.