My first Job @ 12 yrs old

In the summer before I started High School I went looking for a job. The little grocery store, a large room with shelves and a meat counter at one end, had no use for me. But the stationary store next door took me on.

My job was to restock the shelves, especially the greeting card rack, that had to be kept neat and orderly. I was cute and polite and people loved me. The store owner gave me my choice. I could either work for 65 cents an hour or get a flat $15 dollars a week. I decided that having a regular paycheck was preferable.

The store owner also owned the building and wanted to remodel the upstairs apartments. So, all summer I was hauling wheelbarrows full of sheet rock and wood lathe. We ripped out plumbing and walls, and in some spots, even the flooring. It was hard tiring work, but a deal is a deal.

As the school year got closer he called me in to have a talk. With me going to school I would not be able to work as much as I had, so he felt it was unfair to continue paying me a flat salary. He was changing my pay back to 65 cents an hour. Even at that age I knew I was getting hosed!

But it WAS a job, and I WAS getting paid 65 cents every hour! I put it behind me and was a model employee. Well, for a while.

My fall came at the hands of a pack of cigarettes. Not mine! With the store being across the side street from the High School a lot of kids would come in to buy smokes. I had a problem with that. I would even turn the packs on edge when I sold them to adults, so the surgeon General’s Warning was facing up.

One day the store owner SAW me refuse to sell a pack of smokes to a kid and went off on me! I did not have the right to refuse to sell HIS merchandise to HIS customers! He told me that I would sell whatever he told me to sell to whomever he told me to sell them to.

Another kid came in for smokes. I looked at my boss, then back at the kid and said “We don’t sell cigarettes to minors”. My boss shoved me out of the way and sold the smokes. THEN he screamed at me for a while before firing me.

Believe it or not, he REALLY respected me for taking that stand even though it infuriated him. We remained friends for years. The last time I heard from him was while I was in Boot Camp, 5 years later

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