Thursday, July 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday: My First Job

Cody, my hometown, is a summer tourist town, given its proximity to the East Gate entrance to Yellowstone National Park. During summer, the entire town bustles with shops, restaurants and hotels. Tourists crowd the streets looking for ugly souvenirs to take home and hide away in their attics. Hotels fill up to the seams to accommodate all the people looking to visit the Cody Nite Rodeo, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Old Trail Town, watch a gunfight or eat lunch at The Irma Hotel, or just explore a western town.

Because the work is seasonal, there are plenty of jobs for high school kids working during the summer. At the time, the legal working age for a teenager was 14. Shortly after I turned 14, I went to look for a job. If you have seen my kids, you will know that I was really small, just as they are. My son, who just turned 15, looks like he is 11. I kept trying to find a job, but no one would hire me, because I was so little. What they didn't know is that while I was little, I had been trained by a master, my mother.

My Great-Aunt Betty (my grandpa's younger sister) and Great-Uncle Joe owned a small roadside hotel called 7K's on the west part of town just past the rodeo. They had 15 or 16 rooms and then owned the RV park next door. Aunt Betty knew my mother and her excellent ways so she agreed to hire me for the summer.

Working as a hotel maid is a hard and gross job. You are cleaning up after people who leave hair in the shower, messes in the toilet, and towels everywhere. I made mistakes as I was being trained, but eventually learned how to do the work. My biggest problem (and has remained a problem as I do my own housework) is that I was so darn slow. Thorough but slow as a sloth.

The work was divided between three girls and a fourth girl would have a day off. One girl was assigned rooms 1-8, one girl worked on rooms 9-15, and the third girl would clean the RV park bathrooms, clean an additional large bedroom, and wash the towels in the laundromat. I dreaded doing rooms 9-15 because they were bigger and required more bed making.

Cleaning the bathrooms on the RV side was gross, but you got to drive the three-wheeler to bring over the towels, so that was a fun perk. I worked hard, cleaned slowly, and enjoyed my first job. My Aunt Betty and Uncle Joe were always great to talk to and always made my day. The following spring, when I received my first check from my tax return, I purchased an electronic typewriter. Yes, I have always wanted to write on a machine!

I worked there for two summers and then worked at another hotel for a couple of summers. I learned a lot from that job such as:

  • Make good decisions as a teenagers, because bad ones can haunt and follow you for decades to come. 
  • People can be really disgusting in private.
  • It's a kindness to leave a small tip for the maid.
  • It feels good to work hard and earn a paycheck.
  • It is worth working hard, getting good grades, and going to college, if it gives you more opportunities.
  • People who work these jobs to make ends meet are admirable and should be treated with dignity and respect. 
  • Anytime you do an honest job and do your best at it, you are doing something worthwhile.
What was your first job? What did you learn from that experience?


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2 comments:

Nicole Salisbury said...

My first job was as a maid too! Gross, but hard. I was slow too, but thorough which my boss appreciates. Cleaning is a good outlet for me, so I never actually minded being a maid.

3T's said...

This is so detailed it makes me think of my first job, Dairy Queen! I don't know how I skipped cleaning hotel rooms? It was such a good experience for me, I learned so much and some of those lessons really helped me when I got my first grown up job after college. Having a boss and being expected to do thorough work is a lesson I had to teach one of my interns and if he would've had a job in his teen years it wouldn't have been a problem.