Beginnings and Endings:
Where you begin is not always where you end. I had a job on weekends and in the summer from the time I turned sixteen until I landed my first teaching gig.
One of my first high school jobs was at Meyers Family Fried Chicken in Amarillo, Texas. I was the hostess with the mostess on weekends! “How many?” “High chair or booster?” “Booth or table?” “ Follow me please.”
Meyers Family Fried Chicken was, as you guessed, geared toward family. It had a train track mounted at the top of the walls by the ceiling and a locomotive with a long train that ran continuously everyday, from open to close.
My time there was pretty non-descript, except when a customer would request a certain waitress or to sit by the window. When that happened, it would cause tip inequality and sometimes overwork or not enough work for the waitresses. This, in turn, would cause huffing and puffing and sideways glances at the Hostess. Although the policy was to make the customer happy, I was less popular than usual when a demanding patron put us out of rotation. I think Meyers and I parted ways after one year.
My most favorite job in high school was at Montgomery Ward in the Western Plaza. I breezed through training with flying colors and high scores because I could run the register and count back change with speed and accuracy. All this awarded me the prestigious title of “Floater,” meaning every time I clocked into work, I had to stop by HR to see what department needed help.
I managed to land a coveted temporary position in the Electronics Department when a full-time/part-time person went on maternity leave. The Electronics Dept. sold T.V.’s, record players, radios and records. You know, LP’s and 45’s. I was in heaven, mainly because cute boys would occasionally wander in looking at records and I could approach with a big smile and ask, “May I help you?”
My other department stents were not as glamorous nor as successful. Once, while helping out in shoes, I sent customers home with two different shoes in the same box. (not a matched pair) And there was one fateful Saturday in the Candy Dept….I’m not sure why, but I never got the hang of scooping, measuring correctly, and bagging. On Saturday’s it would be flush with harried parents, crying kids, and ‘hangry’ (hungry and angry) customers. I never “floated” back after that one time.
My employment background boasts of teaching swimming lessons and lifeguarding at the YMCA; one summer at Glorieta Baptist Church Camp, working in the Chuck Wagon, making donuts; and two summers in college, as a secretary at an insurance company.
Isn’t it fascinating to look back and see that where you began is not always where you end? How was I to know at sixteen that the skills and customer interactions then would serve me well later as an educator? How could I possibly have known that weekends and summers wouldn’t hold a candle to Monday through Friday for 36 years?
Certainly, where I began was not where I ended. But, it shaped me and molded me and taught me about life and the virtues of an honest day’s work. So, to that I must say: “Thank you, Meyer’s Family Fried Chicken!”, “Gracias! Montgomery Ward!”, and “Much obliged! Chuck Wagon!”
You taught me well!