Both Linda and Emily have posted recently about their first jobs way back when, which got me thinking about all the various places where I have toiled myself. Back before I became the fabulous, rich, and successful non-tenure-track college instructor you see before you today, I had a slew of interesting menial jobs.
While some of these jobs were pretty shitty indeed, I never really complained about having to work — and I have worked basically every day of my life for the past fifteen years. My dad insisted I get a job when I was sixteen — that whole thing about teaching kids about responsibility and the value of a dollar, you know? While it seemed like an annoying philosophy at the time, today I assume that kind of thing is the standard.
At least that was my assumption until I heard from several of my students (who either told me directly or whom I overheard during their off-topic conversations before class) that most of them don’t work and that they are “completely freaking out” about the fact that their parents have suggested they get part-time jobs for the summer. FREAKING OUT. Like, “Oh my god I have never worked before and I really don’t want to get a job but, like, sometimes at the end of the week I only have, like, $100 of my allowance left for food. I’m going to starve.”
Take a minute to unpack that little statement (a direct quotation from one of my adorable whippersnappers) and see what you think about it. I suggest focusing on the fact that at the end of the week she only has $100 left for food and thinks she will, as a result of her parents’ perceived stinginess, starve.
Now if you have made it this far without punching your monitor, let me congratulate you. Let me also say that hearing this kind of thing makes me feel truly, unironically thankful for those years spent serving up cheeseburgers and lattes and dressing on the side to rude customers. It may have sucked at the time, but I’m immensely glad I learned to appreciate hard work and didn’t turn out like the whiny little princess quoted above. Thank you, parental unit.
In honor of that, I’ll tell you a little bit about one of my favorite early jobs. I started this blog back when I worked at the Stupid Bank with Suomichris, so if you want to read all about that you can find it in the older entries of the “Life in the Cube” category. I also imported a post from my old blog where I wrote about my first ever job as a counter girl at Fuddruckers – read about that here.
The job I want to tell you about today, though, was at a glorious coffee shop by the name of Mochapelli’s. Oh yes, it was named after the Native American trickster god, Kokopelli, only IT WAS A PUN. How clever, right? Needless to say, the shop was decorated with Kokopelli-like figures whose flutes were replaced with steaming cups of java. I swear that this is true.
I got the job thanks to a recommendation from Clarabella, who had worked there for a couple of years already. The woman who ran the shop was this wonderful, kind of crazy, hilarious and energetic person who was able to decide pretty much instantly whether she liked a person or not — luckily she liked me, and I worked at that job part of my junior year and all of my senior year in college.
We had an all-female crew (with the exception of a male manager who was only there for part of that time and who turned out to be something of a dishonest asshole, but that’s a story for another time) and for the most part everyone got along really well. The coffee shop was where I learned everything I know about coffee and where I learned that I really like to cook. The lunch shifts when the asshole manager could be convinced to let me run the grill were some of the most fun times at the shop.
The other most fun times at the shop, which in fact exceeded the fun had cooking by a factor of 100, were when Clarabella and I worked the closing shift on Saturday nights. I won’t tell you too much about those nights except to present you with a hypothetical situation: if you and one of your BFFs were working at a coffee shop on a Saturday night, and that coffee shop were located in between a grocery store and a liquor store, and that shop were also outfitted with a top-of-the-line smoothie machine, would you decide to get creative with a special, employees-only smoothie recipe?
Don’t answer that. You would; I know you would.
Your turn: tell me about your favorite job as a young whippersnapper. Where did you toil?