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Contest - $50.00 gift card to the winner!


Not in, but my first paycheck job wasn't until I was 16. I had been a lawn mower and babysitter for my life up until then (I had about a dozen lawns I mowed around the neighborhood). I worked as an usher in a movie theater in 1980. It was a single screen theater, one of the few remaining and has since closed. There are two things I learned that shocked me. One was how much money the government got (and continues to get). My first paycheck was nowhere near what I thought it should be. The other was that the job of projectionist at a theater had long since vanished and the movie was cut onto one giant reel that was threaded through the projector.
Thanks for starting this, Captain. I have enjoyed reading everyone's contributions.

My first "real" job was at a sub shop that is now closed. Prior to that, I did odd jobs like mowing lawns, landscaping, etc. At the sub shop I did everything - made subs, washed dishes, worked cash register, you name it. I think I was 16 when I started, and had that job into my college years. I learned that emptying grease traps is not what I wanted to do long-term. My bosses were cool - three Italian brothers. I think I made minimum wage, or close to it? $5/hour IIRC? Great job looking back on it.
Do not want to compete for the prize - someone else may need it more than I.

I do want to share my first paying job though. Do not recall how much I made, but it's a common first job for a kid, which I was, and I had a partner at first (my older brother), before I took over - a paper route. Seven days a week - including the humongous Sunday paper - thick, heavy, a rubber band breaker for sure. Early, early mornings - dark, cold. Getting the bundles and cutting the wire with one of those wire cutters (large washer with small slits at the north, east, south, and west to insert the wire into and twist back and forth to cut (worked very well).

Fold said newspapers. On Sunday, and some weekdays also, you'd get two bundles; one - the paper, and two - inserts / ads and coupons and magazine type deals. So first you insert the inserts into the papers, then fold and rubber band them together. So the first part is done - folding, then you load the bag. One way: while your bike is laying on it's side with the bag on, load the bag then lift everything and off you go.

Every month is collections. Doing to your customers and collecting the monthly payment (cash only). I seem to recall $7.50 for a month for some reason. It's been more than 5 decades to excuse my brain fart.

My Dad would give us a talking to in advance, advice in case we were kidnapped. Important life lessons for a pre-teen.

On the whole a great experience that started my taking on of adversity (weather, apathy, responsibility, job satisfaction).

Sunday's were great cause we'd go to the bakery that had a diner on one end and we'd get bacon and eggs and Portuguese sausage and hash brown. The best Sunday memories right there.
First real job was 1965, after my first year in college, working at a sodium silicate plant filling in for employees on vacation. I did everything from mixing, to unloading soda ash from rail cars, to lab testing product, to checking trucks in and out at the gate. Since I was much, much thinner at that time, I got the small entry work: from squeezing thru portholes in large storage tanks and jack-hammering out hardened silicate residue inside, to being lowered down small holes to the clean out the tunnels underneath the kilns when they were shut down for two weeks every summer. Pay was probably $2 something an hour, but I took every weekend and holiday opportunity for extra pay. I banked most of it and made enough to buy a brand new 1966 LeMans, V8, 4-speed later that year which, with extras and tax, cost me $2,700. I continued working there the next two summers, but the soda ash and silicate pollution at the plant really took a toll on my car's paint and vinyl top. A few accidents along the way also didn't help.
My first real job was delivering furniture for an interior decorator in San Diego. I was 17 and it paid $1.25 an hour. My boss was amazing. She taught me to drive a stick shift van safely. My last job before I retired a year and a half ago was as a delivery administrator for a defence contractor delivering naval weapon systems.
What did you do? Throughout high school I made money here and there helping friends with things like building and troubleshooting computers. I also did some tennis racquet stringing for my team mates. My first real job started as a cashier for a Golfsmith near my college.

How old were you? 19.

What did you learn? I learned just about everything about golf equipment and learned the game itself. I also learned some of the ridiculous things people will do when commissions are involved. I also learned how to build golf clubs and do a lot of repair work.

What surprised you about the job? How much the entire morale of the store changed when the first manager was replaced with someone that the store respected.

What was your boss like? My first boss was terrible, even to the point of chewing me out in front of guests for not greeting an incoming guest. Bear in mind this was while I was handling two other guests and a phone call while he was standing right there and could have done the greeting himself. Shortly after that event he was demoted and moved locations. My next boss was awesome. My assistant and general managers taught me the game of golf and going out to the course about once a week with a group from work became a thing. For someone at a very isolated college it was great.

How much did you make per hour? I started around $7/hr and worked there until I graduated. By then I was making $10/hr plus an additional $150-$250 a week in commissions.
I'm in, thanks @Captain Pre-Capsize for the opportunity. My first job started the summer just after seventh grade. My Dad went with me to the local private country club and I signed up to be a caddy, following in his footsteps from when he was a child. I caddied every morning at the golf course, and I believe that helped instill in me work ethic. I learned very quickly the value of money as I could afford to buy things that my friends only dreamed about, or had to wait for birthday's.

I also learned how to interact with a very diverse cross section of people, including very wealthy and smart individuals. While my friends were out enjoying their summer days, I was chasing after golf carts or lugging around a bag of golf clubs, but making between $25-$40 dollars per round/loop when I first started out. Not bad for 4.5 hours of work when you are twelve years old.


I Leave The Toilet Seat Up.
Not in but will share!

15 years old
Lined oil pits
Sandblasted casing
Clean and drift casing
Made casing stabilizers
Drove hotshot service

This was 1980 and I was making $8.75 an hour and being paid 1 1/2 times on overtime which usually started on Tuesdays in the summer.
I started as a police officer in 1987 at $7 an hour.
I couldn’t believe I could get paid for sleeping at a site waiting for pipe to be delivered. I couldn’t believe how they could trust a kid with such expensive equipment.
I learned that I wanted to get some learning cuz this was no way to make a living. Hard. Back breaking work.
Made me appreciate more the things I bought with the money I earned.
A great experience!


I didnt know
Not in, but a great idea for a contest thread!

My first job was at 15, knocking on doors. Door to door sales for home improvements. Siding, soffit & fascia, windows, doors etc. I got a 10% commission on any sales upon job completion. The experience gained in those two years has proven priceless.

Chan Eil Whiskers

Fumbling about.

First job was self employed. Selling greeting cards and/or Christmas cards door to door. I lived in a 1200 unit apartment complex which helped considerably. Made 50 cents for every box I sold. I sold 2-4 boxes most days, but I had more disposable income than my parents I think. I was nine (and ten). 4th and 5th grades after school and Saturdays.

First job with a paycheck (employed). Boy Scout Camp. Worked in the kitchen, washing pots (huge pots) and pans and did all sorts of other kitchen helper duties. It was full-time almost seven days a week (not Saturday night or Sunday until supper). I was twelve. Pay? $7.50 a week + room & board meaning I lived in a dorm style building with the counselors and kitchen help.


Without a doubt the main thing I learned was the satisfaction of work. Not that that was really new to me because I always had worked - helping my grandparents with yard work for about 35 cents a day (yes, they paid me that), selling blackberries I'd picked, etc. - the work ethic was strong in my family. Of course there were chores, too, but those weren't paid.

So, there was the inherent satisfaction which comes along with helping others and doing a good job (and knowing I'd done a good job). Plus, money is a great incentive especially money earned by being helpful and by doing a service.

Most of my bosses at the Boy Scout Camp were very easy to deal with and easy enough to please.

But, one day I really screwed up. I got a big time chewing out by the Big Boss. I'm sure he was either the camp's director or the camp's operations executive. He was an adult who took a big piece out of my hide and made it very clear how thin the ice was. Not that he necessarily needed to do that, but I learned about the absolute power held by those at a certain level of authority. I was lucky to not get fired I think so I also learned about second chances and a bit about mercy.

Selling cards door to door I learned about persistence and the value of my time. It's a numbers game. I didn't really know how to curtail time wasting conversations with tire kickers, but I learned about tire kickers and their detrimental effect on my business and my life.

Noel Coward nailed it!

Happy shaves,

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I'm in. My first real "paying" job was a porter in a garden shop. The job was to help customers make selections but mostly it was to take their purchases out to their vehicles. That could mean anything from bags of fertilizer (sheep manure was the absolute WORST!) to shrubs and the dreaded 6 cubic foot bales of peat moss. I learned a lot form the sales folks on the proper way to take care of lawns and gardens and the payday every 2 weeks was in cash! I learned to spend like a drunken sailor early in life! It was a great job & working outside was an added bonus. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn how to deal with the public while getting a workout.
First real job at 14.
I worked at the public library. Shelved books, fetched old magazines and newspapers from basement storage when somebody put in a request. $1.50/hr. I've always loved books so it was a great job for me. Most memorable part I was able to make out with a female coworker in the magazine room when things were slow. Now that I think about it I really miss that job.
Technically, I started working for my stepmom at 12 mucking horse stalls, doing yard work, weighing silage, and all sorts of other farm work.

First real job was a lot more fun. Worked in the cart barn at a golf course. 4 am weekend staging wasn't my favorite, but it was a rainy season in AZ and we spent a lot of evenings after management went home playing bumper cars on the wet range. Flipped the tractor in a sand pit once, too.
Mine was at a pig farm. My parent's house was the last on a very empty 1 1/2 mile long dirt road. I was 15. School was still in and I wanted some money so I got a permit to work (had to cuz I was so young) and applied at the new pig farm that had just opened on my road. It was pretty gross but the $3.75/hour was totally worth it when I got my first paycheck. The coolest thing that has ever happened to me occurred there. I worked mostly in Farrowing (baby pigs) and I saw some being born but one was a stillborn. I picked up the slimy, limp, dead pig and put my pinky into his mouth and wrapped the rest of my fingers around it's snout and blew into it's mouth and then flexed his body a couple times and it started breathing! I know it was just a pig but I, a stupid 15 year old kid, saved it's life. That was so cool, I would've worked there for free but I got brain cancer a few years later and couldn't work anymore.
I'm out. Like wet shaving, I'm in it for fun... Started mowing lawns for cash at 12. Washed dishes in the school cafeteria one period a day for free lunches at 14. Mom would pay me what the lunches would have cost-about $5 per week. Cleaned classrooms for an hour and a half or so after school each day for $3.00 per hour at 14. Wrote themes for other kids for $2.00 per thousand words in Jr. High (yes, I was one of those kids). Sacked groceries at a grocery store for $3.35 per hour at 16. After a month, I found a different job-I learned that the customer service industry was (and is) not for me. This brings us to the biggie-working in grounds maintenance at a country club for $3.35 per hour from 16-21. This job kept me busy for 5 summers through high school and college. I worked for Duke, a kindly, retirement aged gentleman, with Jasper, a salty WWII veteran, and with Bill, my lifelong friend who helped me get the job. At that point in my life, I had been influenced to believe that all rich people were [email protected]#$%s. In time, I got too comfortable around the club and stole some things. Nothing of significant value, but stealing is stealing. A couple of years after I quit working there, my conscience got the best of me, and I made an appointment to talk to the manager of the country club, Phil, who was the wealthy middle-aged son of the owner/builder of the club/golf course. After telling Phil what I had done, how much total value I thought I had stolen, and asking what I could do to make it up to him, he simply said, "James, you just did". In an instant I realized that I was the [email protected]#$%, and that Phil was alright.
Technically, I started working for my stepmom at 12 mucking horse stalls, doing yard work, weighing silage, and all sorts of other farm work.

First real job was a lot more fun. Worked in the cart barn at a golf course. 4 am weekend staging wasn't my favorite, but it was a rainy season in AZ and we spent a lot of evenings after management went home playing bumper cars on the wet range. Flipped the tractor in a sand pit once, too.
Fellow former country club/golf course worker here. If you remember the old Haynes Inspector 13 commercials from the 80s, you'll understand why my coworker would say: It doesn't say EZ Go until I say it says EZ Go! Bumped a lot of carts, but never flipped a tractor. Take care!
What did you do?

Professional sandwich artist at Subway

How old were you?

17. Had done other odd jobs manual labor before this.

What did you learn?

Taxes are expensive and minimum wage isn't a lot of money.

What surprised you about the job?

Looking back, I'm surprised by the amount of Subway I ate while I worked there. It was a lot of Subway.

Feel free to share whatever you like. What was your boss like?

My boss was a stoner dude that was easily ticked off by customers that wanted extra olives.

How much did you make per hour?

I think it was $5.15 an hour gas was around $2
At that age, if there was gas in the tank, I was making plenty of money...
My first job was a bagger at the local grocery store. I learned proper technique in how to properly fill a bag with groceries and it pains me to watch others try and do it when I go to the store these days, sometimes I have to jump in and fix things before something gets bruised or battered.
Former Safeway bagger here, in the years when paper was the standard, and plastic was the option...
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