Today's topic is: First JobI got my first job when I was 17. The major reason I didn’t have a job sooner was because I didn’t have my own car. My Dad had a 1976 Plymouth Volare` Station Wagon, big Sky Blue exterior with tan interior. It was hideous. He hardly ever let me drive it because it was his pride and joy. I’m not sure, but it may have been his first brand new car. It really never bothered me that he didn’t let me drive it. To me it was a Big Sky Blue embarrassment and I secretly hoped that every Friday when he let me take my Mom grocery shopping that I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew from school.
My parents bought me a gold 1971 Pontiac Granville for $400 right about the time I started my first job. It was a huge car. It was a good thing my first job was at a gas station because that car was thirsty.
My first job was cashier at the gas station booth at a Midas Muffler Shop. My Dad got me the job through a drinking buddy of his. One would think this would be a red flag, but it wasn’t. The shop was owned by a former Kentucky Colonel and his wife.
The gas station was 4 pumps, a very small booth with a cigarette rack and a milk cooler outside. When I first worked for Mr. & Mrs. P. I only had to cashier. Later, after they sold the business to Mr. S. I also pumped gas. With no A/C, summers were hot. In the winter it took me about a ½ hour extra to dress for work. I wore long john top/bottoms, t-shirt, sweat shirt/pants, jeans, heavy flannel shirt, down vest, gym socks, thick wool socks, snowmobile boots, knit hat, scarf and gloves. Frankly I don’t know how I managed to walk or get in my car! The booth I sat in basically stopped the wind. There were 2 space heaters, but in order to sit out there for 8 hours, the layered clothing was a necessity. My mother would heat up tomato soup or chicken soup and fill a thermos for me. That would help keep me warm too.
There were 2 real advantages to the job. One was that it was very solitary. I didn’t have any co-workers to have to fake getting along with, no office politics. The other advantage was that I could do whatever I wanted in the booth, so long as I was there to cashier and make sure no one stole the merchandise. I could read, do my homework, listen to the radio. On the weekends I would bring my B/W portable television and watch the Brewers games.
After I turned 18 (at the time the drinking age in Wisconsin was 18) Mr. & Mrs. P would invite me into the shop to join them for beers after my shift was done. It was a nightly ritual for them to run to the bar 2 doors down for 6 packs and shoot the breeze with the staff. Of course they all got a head start because the shop closed at 8pm and the gas pumps closed at 10pm, but sometimes they did hang around late and invited me to join them. After the beers ran out they would move to a local lounge about a mile down the street. Sometimes I’d join them, other times I’d go home, depending on my school schedule.
I worked there through high school and most of college. They were very generous and were kind of like a second set of parents. Cool parents. Parents you go out drinking with. Lol! I stayed close with even after I moved to Chicago. A little more than 20 years. I used to bring my kids to visit when we’d drive up to Milwaukee for the State Fair. I’ve lost touch with them in the last 5 years or so because I haven’t been traveling to Milwaukee often like I did in the past. That job allowed me pay for college and work full time while attending college full time. It was the perfect first job.
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