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With rising unemployment often leading the news each evening, I was thinking about my first job. 

In high school (mid-1970s), as part of the ROTC program, I worked at Hallmark.  Back then, cashiers actually had to figure out the change; cash registers didn’t do it for them.  Unfortunately, math was never a strong point for me.  One day, the assistant manager told me the manager wanted to send me to another, slower retail store.  Age 16 is a tough age generally, but to be rejected, told I was a failure, was really, really hard to take.

The assistant manager felt sorry for me, and taught me how to count change backwards and in increments.  She explained it in such a way that I was able to pick it up immediately.  I was soon counting change faster than anyone in the store, including the manager.  When the holidays came around, the manager hired me as paid employee.

I’ll never forget the kindness and generosity of the assistant manager who took the time for a struggling teenager.  I’ve made a point of paying that forward with young people throughout my life, including a stint as a volunteer youth crisis counselor.

I still suck at math, though.

What was your first job?

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drive-in1

When I was a child, my family was on a strict budget, which meant watching movies at the local drive-in theater.  Mom made popcorn, which we weren’t allowed to eat until a quarter of the way into the picture.  Sometimes, as a treat, we would get a soda from the snack bar.

speakerEach parking space had its own speaker which hung on a pole and was attached with a cable.  The speaker would hang over the partially opened car window.  Sometimes, the speakers actually worked.  When they didn’t, we’d have to drive forward or backward to another parking spot.  It got to the point where my dad would just have my brothers get out of the car to run from speaker to speaker finding one that worked, so he wouldn’t have to continually move the car.  In the winter, because of the required partially opened window, we would freeze. Read the rest of this entry »

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