I’m writing this on Thursday September 16, a not so auspicious day for you, or me for that matter, but a very important day for our granddaughter Kelsey – who started a new job that day.
It brought back my own memories, when I started a new job, and how nervous I was, with each new career I started.
The first was my stint as a newspaper driver for the Salt Lake Tribune, a morning daily, and a friend of mine had a route and was making “a lot of money,” about $ 20 a month. Since my income at the time was a dollar or two which I occasionally received as an “allowance”, I was ready for some of that “big money”.
I was very nervous the morning when the road manager handed me my paper bag and helped me attach it to the handlebars of my bike. Then he gave me my logbook and went through the details.
I cycled to launch my first paper. I was an incredibly bad paperboy. I hated the delivery part and I really hated collecting. When the time each month came to start collecting for the journal, fear became my attitude.
There were always people who didn’t have the $ 2.50 on hand, so I was asked to “come back tomorrow” – or next week. During the four or five months that I delivered papers, I realized that I hated collecting more than anything. I couldn’t wait to find a real job, but how many “real jobs” were available for a 14 year old?
I got a job with our next door neighbor, Roe Wilde, at his little bakery. I was the gofer. My first day of work, I showed up at 7 am, under the supervision of “Rosie” who showed me the ropes.
In less than two hours, I had done something that I was sure was going to get me fired. Rosie had shown me how to wipe down the cake pans after throwing the cakes out to cool, and I was carrying a large tray full of empty pans (probably a dozen or more) to put away, and I tripped and knocked over. all on the floor. It sounded like an explosion in a cymbal factory.
I knew I was in trouble. I thought Rosie would tell me I was fired, but no one in the store raised their eyebrows. I lived to work another day. In fact, I spent almost two years working in the bakery after school and during summer vacation.
Then it was my first week working at Midwest Advertising in Casper, Wyoming.
My dad got me the job, and I was really in the chips at the time – $ 1.50 an hour. Wow! The spirit is mind boggling.
Anyway, I was new to the job and had been given the task of preparing old signs. It was hard and hot work and after a few hours I stopped for a drink from the pipe on the side of the store. Just as I had taken a sip or two of water, I saw a car drive into the yard. I hurried up and dropped the pipe because it was the boss, the always boring, no-smile, Wally.
He rolled down his window and yelled, “Mike, if I see you no longer working, you’re fired!”
I tried to explain that all I had done was stop for a minute for a drink, but he just waved me away.
That afternoon there was a rehearsal of the morning activities, and once again, after a few tough and sweaty hours, I stopped for a drink. That’s when my nemesis walked in, rolled down his window and shouted, “Mike, come in and take your check, you’re fired!” Less than a week of work, and I was fired.
Now, my dad pleaded my case, and I got reinstated. Anguishing.
The last post on my resume (many years later) was my first experience working for a large corporation, and after several interviews and a trip to Dallas, I was hired as a salesperson for the Utah Territory. I was ready to go.
The training was done in the field, using clients who would be mine. My boss, a vice president, came to Salt Lake City to train me. The day before my first day in the field, I met him and he told me what to bring with me the next morning, the first day in my territory.
“Bring everything in your sampling line, Mike. I couldn’t believe what he said. My sample line almost filled half of our garage, and I couldn’t imagine how I could fit everything into our Dodge sedan – and I didn’t. I put in what I thought we would need.
I was wrong, we needed a lot of the things I had left behind. I thought I had just finished my career in less than a day. I apologized.
I was not fired, in fact I spent 30 years in the company, and this vice president is still a good friend.
But I know what Kelsey must be feeling: this first day is scary.