If you mention the phrase Saturday job to kids these days, they look at you askance. And why wouldn’t they when they no longer seem to exist. Supermarkets for instance, now like to employ OAPs wanting to top up their pensions, to do the jobs like collecting trolleys which used to be the province of teenage boys. As shifts and longer working hours become the norm, weekend work is just a part of all retail workers’ lives but not too long ago this was the world of teenagers.
My first Saturday job was on a fruit stall in the market. As an August baby, I was younger than my friends, but when they began to get jobs as they reached the prerequisite age of fourteen, I wanted one too. The market was the only place that didn’t check out your credentials and so, at thirteen and three quarters, I started my first job. It was great, the stall owners loved me and the women who worked their full-time adopted me and took me under their wing. I got paid in the hand and, when the market closed at 5pm, I would head straight to Woolworths or WH Smiths and spend the lot on stationary, make-up or pick and mix.
All would have been well and I may well still be working there to this day if I hadn’t got too big for my boots. You see my friend got a job at Tammy Girl, the fashion shop for pre-teens, and suddenly the market was no longer good enough. I got a new job at Dolcis shoe shop where the manager turned out to be a Hitler and the full-time staff had no time for me. I hated it and longed for my halcyon days on the fruit stall being cosseted by the lovely ladies, who all had kids of their own my age.
I learned a valuable lesson, however, about the grass being greener and all that. Those Saturday jobs actually taught me a hell of a lot. I learned that if you play the game; turn up on time, pull your weight and keep a smile on your face when you want to stab someone through the heart, you’ll do just fine.
From my first job in the market, I never really stopped. I had a series of part-time jobs all through college and university and they all served a valuable purpose. I definitely gained confidence by working with a diverse range of people and developed an appreciation for people from all walks of life. I learned early that there are wankers in all classes, creeds and age groups but that the flip side of that is also true and I met lots of generous, nurturing people as well.
Working in the service industry really gives you an insight into how to get along with people and avoid confrontation and I think everyone should have to work for tips at least once in their life; nothing hones your interpersonal skills quicker. It also gives you
an appreciation of how hard some of the lowest paid jobs actually are.
When I got my first job, I think my mother was hoping that it was going to teach me the value of money. Ironically, the opposite became true. Rather than seeing money as something to be revered it made me want to spend it all the faster. Some people have the attitude that if you have to work hard for your money, it’s a mistake to squander it. For me, if you aren’t going to enjoy the money then what’s the point of toiling for it?
It’s a shame that for a lot of young people, their first job will be the career they decide to embark upon once they have completed their education. They won’t get to try out all the jobs that used to be part of being a teenager and student; primarily retail jobs, bar work and waitressing. They are hard jobs and the pay is lousy but I’m glad I did them and, at least if I ever fall on hard times, I know that I can pull a good pint.