My first job – what was yours?

My first job – what was yours?

Recomposition started at the end of August, 2010. We’re pleased with what’s happened in the last two years, and we hope you are as well. It seems appropriate to celebrate the two year mark with a work story and by getting more more interactive for a change. Below, Siobhan writes about her first job. In the comments, please tell us what your first job was, how old you were when you got it, and what that job was it like.

My first job
By Siobhan Breathnach

I got my first job going to the jobcentre on the way home from my last exam at school, I turned 18 a few days later and left home the week after that. I got a job in the kitchen at a big hostel, which is also a famous song by the Village People. (for American readers, a jobcentre is a state run service where jobs are advertised, usually low wage ones, and where you go to claim welfare benefits)

My job was serving breakfasts, followed by cleaning up and then getting the lunch ready. I got there on the first day and served sausage, bacon, muesli and so on for two hours. The bacon and sausage were in a “bain marie,” a hot tank for keeping the food warm, and every time I lifted up the lids a big waft of sausage flavoured steam wafted right in my face. At the end of the breakfast shift I ran out and was sick on the fire escape. I sat there for a bit and thought “why was I just sick?” I realised that probably I was pregnant.

Every morning I got up at 5:30 am. At first it was bright daylight at that time, but every day I watched the dawn come a bit later. As I had to catch the first bus or train there were often problems if they didn’t arrive on time (they had built a new light railway and it was having teething problems) so I was often late for work, which gave me anxiety. I was also sick sometimes on the underground. I hated the job. I couldn’t do it. Now I am older and stronger but at the time I was quite weedy and I couldn’t manage the physical side of the work. When the delivery truck came, me and my co workers unloaded all the crates and put them in the store room. We had to get the big packets of sugar and industrial sized tins of tomatoes up onto high shelves, so one woman would climb onto the shelves, and hang on there while the two others would chuck the heavy packets up to her. I always dreaded the packets falling on somebody’s head.

I learned the value of unfeminine footwear one day when I was carrying a bucket of scalding water and someone rinsing a big metal tray swung it round without seeing me and hit me right in the head with it. I staggered a bit and some water sloshed out of the bucket over our feet. I was wearing doctor martins but she was wearing sandals and got scalded. I grabbed a dish and threw cold water on her feet straightaway but she did get burns.

I had to empty the bain marie every morning and then scrape the limescale off it. There was limescale all over the inside of it and I would scrape and scrape, but never got rid of it. The manager would come over shouting “the last girl I had got that shining.” I started getting pains in my arms from lifting the milkjug. I was supposed to pour milk for people for their cereal, so I was lifting the jug 250 times. Eventually, against regulations, I put the jug out on the counter and let the punters pour their own milk.

I went to the doctor, who told me yes I was pregnant. A couple of weeks later I lost it.

My co workers were all from Ghana except one woman who was from Nigeria and the chef who was from Morocco. One day a new chef arrived who was white. He was a problem for me as he used to come and chat to me at break and would ask me to do stuff like “check everybody does what they need to do” if he was bunking off early, just because I was also white. I told him “ Oris the kitchen porter is the senior member of the team, you have to ask him not me.” I thought he was an arsehole but my co-workers started to say “the new chef is your friend” and I felt he was causing problems for me, making me look a bit separate from the rest of the team for being white, so I was really unfriendly to him till he stopped talking to me.

Eventually I hated everything so much that I applied for another catering job and got it. We made sandwiches in a commuter station. It was incredible. They weighed the deliveries, an individual porter had to sign for them, then they weighed the cheese and tomatoes and stuff you put in the sandwiches, and if you dropped a piece of cheese on the floor you had to get a manager to weigh it before you threw it away, and then any discrepancy between the two amounts was taken out of the porter’s wages- which was an excellent theft prevention method and also meant that the bits of cheese we dropped on to the floor just went into the sandwiches instead. You had to wear a little white hat and a yellow bow tie. For lunch you got one crappy sandwich. I hated every minute of it and was sacked within two weeks.

Originally posted: September 13, 2012 at Recomposition

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Recomposition
Sep 14 2012 23:21

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klas batalo
Sep 15 2012 00:46

My first job was McDonald's. I must have been 16 or 17. I lived in the equivalent of the "sticks" for my little state, and this restaurant was on the border of the next town, so we were generally pretty busy. It was also a big after school hangout spot for some, but barely any of my friends, or really acquaintances came in, other than to probably make fun of me.

I don't really remember how I would get to work. I think for the beginning of working there my father would drop me off after school. Eventually I think I could drive there. To be honest I really don't remember much about working there but I think it is mostly because it was a really traumatic experience. I remember feeling just like a robot. Later I learned from Brave New World that this could be called being an automaton. I remember that's how I felt.

I started off on grill. I'd get burgers from the freezer and all I would do was grill them, put them in a tray and give them to the next person down the line. I eventually got to work on the line, which was "fun" cause you could be creative in how you fucked up doing people's condiments.

The constant beeping and chirping from the machines would haunt my sleep. Also the yelling from the obviously working poor middle aged woman who was my assistant manager, who drove in from the city's ghetto. Like a typical boss, our actual General Manager usually just sat on their ass in the office on their computer all day.

The two most interesting stories, other than sneaking extra chicken nuggets, or ice cream sundaes were probably...when the "ditsy" but probably pretty nice cheerleader stuck her hand in the fry-o-later to get a chicken nugget, thus melting the skin off her hand...and when I was washing dishes one night I sprayed a cold chicken nugget long enough that the pink slime they make them with started oozing out. I later on learned from the first ever traveler kid/run away I ever knew (not a punk but some troubled hipster teen) that his uncle worked for corporate and said he learned the secret recipe about the nuggets, and that I shouldn't ever eat them ever again, confirming what I saw. This was all before Food, Inc, or Supersize Me, or any of the other movies came out.

Oh and I remember how everything smelt like fries and grease. Oh and the break room was always playing White Zombie.

Juan Conatz
Sep 15 2012 01:35

lol White Zombie.

My first real job (rather than seasonal farm work) was a dishwasher at a old mill that had been turned into a restaurant. I had just dropped out of high school and was 16.

Honestly, I was smoking massive amounts of weed at the time, but a couple things I remember were

-Me and my friends spit huge menthol cigarette smoker loogie's in a pot of spaghettis that was served to the public school we went to's football team. And then we watched them eat it. hahaha

-Most of us hated the customers because they were rich tourists passing through town. One time me and a coworker went to the top floor (it was a 6-7 story former mill) and found a slingshot and a box of used batteries. We then got on the roof and knocked out some of the customers car windows with it.

-The gay head cook tried to get one of the underage waiters drunk and into his room, which was in the same building as the restaurant. That turned most of the other workers against him and he ended up quitting, partially due to the fact none of us respected or listened to him.

-One day we showed up to work and to pick up our checks and the place was locked up. The owner had closed up shop without telling us. We called the cops, and they opened the place up and let us take the equivalent of what we said our paychecks would be. Someone took a desktop computer, other looted the alcohol cage. Later on in the night, some of my friends got in there and took alcohol, because we were underage and the cops wouldn't let us take that for compensation.

revol68
Sep 15 2012 01:48

Glass collector at a once fancy hotel than was going to the wall thanks to the combined alcoholism of the owner and manager. It had loads of wedding parties which was good for a laugh, plus the fact the owner and the manager were fiddling the stock taking to cover their drink problems gave me and my fellow 16 year old retrobate colleagues a carte blanche for exprobriating booze to high fuck.

I also learned to do a bit of silver service when working there, serving peas with a spoon and fork is a real life skill.

syndicalist
Sep 15 2012 01:54

Gardner in the summer, painter assistant in the fall, warehouse worker in some shit dump for the rest of the time.

flaneur
Sep 15 2012 02:14

Admin tosser in a hospital. Manager was a loon that moved to South London because she liked a cafe there. She watched everyone like a hawk but was too shy to bollock you in person so she sent passive aggressive emails instead. I once left 2 minutes early and saw a mail in the morning titled 4:58. The then Labour government had cooked up this multimillion pound IT system to make things paperless but I've never seen so much paper in one room before. It bombed in every hospital and when the Tories got in, they closed it down anyhow. I sat in the old mental health block with piss streaks down the wall and no heating. It all went downhill when the cover of Cop and a Half was pasted onto a spreadsheet the bosses of the hospital used and it couldn't be taken off. I had to sit next to my manager as a punishment. I did an Office Space in the end and just stopped going.

It's all your fault Burt.

Nate
Sep 15 2012 02:23

There's folk talking about their first jobs here as well - http://recomposition.info/2012/09/13/my-first-job-what-was-yours/

Serge Forward
Sep 15 2012 07:55

My first full time job was apprentice upholsterer on what was then known as the Work Experience Programme. This meant £16.50 for a 45 hour week doing shitwork. It was a small workshop with only five of us: the boss (Jeff) doing the pattern cutting, a machinist (Gladys) sewing up the patterns, a skilled upholsterer (Bill), er doing skilled upholstery... and an apprentice (me) who stripped down the old soft furnishings ready to be re-upholstered, did furniture pick-ups and drop-offs and made the tea for everyone.The only training I got was when the boss wasn't looking and the upholsterer unofficially showed me how to do some actual upholstery. Bill and Gladys, were lovely people and fantastic to work with. The boss, Jeff, was a total cunt, very anti-union and a big fucking crook. It was years ago and they must all be long gone now.

Oh yeah, the Muscleman* off Opportunity Knocks lived nearby...

As did Giant Haystacks*, who once came into the shop to get some upholstery done.

Anyway, six months later, the scheme finished and the boss said he wouldn't pay me more than the £16.50, so I gave it the heave-ho.

* I appreciate that probably only our older readers will get the references here.

Abbey Volcano
Sep 15 2012 13:14

One of my first jobs was at a clothing store at the mall. This was before malls started failing and closing down, so it was a pretty popular spot for all sorts of people.

I was a cashier. I learned how to liberate clothing for myself and my friends who would come visit. As with every job, I figured out what I could get away with pretty quickly. And there was a lot. One of my favorite things was to replace the CDs in the changer with my own after the boss left for the day. I remember my boyfriend came into visit, tripping ballz, and totally freaked out that I was playing Screeching Weasel. That was a hilarious moment.

A couple bad things stand out in my mind. I never wore a bra in high skool, but I did wear tight white t-shirts a lot. I remember one day after a customer left my boss came up and told me that I needed to start wearing a bra and that I had offended the customer I was just helping. I was fifteen at the time. I was pissed, embarrassed, and remember thinking it wasn’t fair. I argued with my boss, but within a few minutes I agreed to wear a bra from there on out.

At another time, an older male manager sexually assaulted me in front of another worker after hours when we were cleaning the display case. It was all a blur at the time, but I remember joking around with him, and then before I knew it he had “jokingly” tackled me to the ground and was on top of me. I was fifteen and he was in his mid-upper 20s at the time. I was like, “get the fuck off of me” while still trying to remain “jokey” so that it’d be easier to handle and less awkward. Needless to say, I’d have handled this much differently now.

On one of the other manager’s last days, he brought me into the back and started talking to me privately, leaned in really close, and kissed me. I was still fifteen and he was in his upper-20s. Thing with this is that I had a huge crush on this guy and everyone knew it. He was leaving for California and wanted to be nice, I guess, before he took off. He took me by surprise and I didn’t have a chance to really participate in the exchange of kissery, but it wasn’t the same as the other manger who assaulted me. Looking back, I realize this was pretty fucked up, but still kinda hot.

After about a year we got a new regional manager who denied me my 7-cents raise, so I quit. But I only quit b/c I had another job lined up for me at Carvel (ice-cream place on the East Coast) that my friend had helped me get. And that job is another long story, but with less fuckery, and more hilariousness.

Ed
Sep 15 2012 14:49

Great blog post!

My first 'proper' job (as opposed to just helping an ex-girlfriend's stepdad with painting and decorating) was just after I left school, working in an independent health food shop in London. Now that might sound like some kind of green, hippy co-op but it wasn't. It was independent in that it was a small chain owned by one guy who ran it as his little kingdom. It was minimum wage and all my workmates were underpaid migrants. We were all promised raises after a few months, and one woman who didn't ask (coz she didn't want to be pushy) just didn't get it.. and when she did eventually ask for it the manager told her that the offer had passed!

They always tried little shit like that. I remember on my first day when they started drawing up the shifts I calculated the hours and realised it more than I was legally required accept (I'd read it in Solfed's Stuff Your Boss leaflet). My shop manager's face when I told him that was priceless! Honestly, I think at me just mentioning 'the law' he bricked it and caved into whatever I wanted (he ended up giving me an extra day off a week!).

Eventually though, that would come back to bite me in the arse as the area manager (who was less of a little bitch than the shop manager) found out that I'd been having an extra day off a week. He quizzed me about it and I said my shop manager had let me take that day off.. the shop manager then jumped in: "No I didn't, I said you could take some of those days off but not every week". So I was told that either I could start working those days or get the sack.. I chose the sack.. smile

To be honest, even though that job was shit I kind of miss having a pointless job when you're young and just don't give a shit. It was kind of empowering (in a way that I don't have now).. so like I stole shamelessly (Vitamins, organic cheeses, fucking weird multi-bean wraps and shit) and, following the advice of my least favourite Rage Against the Machine song, I wouldn't do stuff they told me to do.. like I remember one time my manager told me to mop the floor of the shop; I looked at the floor and it was clean by my standards so I answered "Are you joking? That's clean!".. we had a little argument on the shop floor and in the end I went off to 'clean the mop' (which entailed sitting in the back with a mop in the sink while I played Snake on my phone) at which point I think he was pleased just to have me out the way.. smile Or shit like phoning in sick and just hanging up on my manager when he tried to get me to come in anyway (as it was, I wasn't sick but I was legally entitled to sick pay dammit!)..

One last thing, on the day they sacked me, they also told the woman who they didn't give the pay rise to that they would be looking to replace her as well (if I remember right it was coz she was gonna start some course and would need to be part time; she'd told them way in advance and they said it was okay but then changed their mind).. anyway, looking back I think we could have both walked out immediately as that would have left only the manager to run the whole shop. Dunno what kind of effect that would've had but I think it would've fucked him pretty bad (and as they'd told us we'd both lost our jobs we might as well have done it). But we didn't, we quietly finished our shifts and went home, me for the last time.

I think part of that for me was that, even though I was already an anarchist, I still didn't have the culture of 'fighting to win' but rather 'fighting and losing honourably' like we always did (you go on a demo, you try to take the road, the cops slap you around a bit, you go to the pub and show each other your bruises).. its only the last few years that I really see anarchists trying to think strategically about how to win stuff.. and that's really heartening to see..

Edit to add: shit, I just remembered the lunches! I had 30 mins for lunch but always used to take 45 minutes to an hour.. man, I can't believe they didn't sack me earlier!

Ethos
Sep 15 2012 18:41

Mine was working as a 'truck loader' for FedEx; I must have been about 17 at the time. We had 4-5 hours to take thousands of packages, ranging from less than 1lbs to 150lbs in weight (they never mentioned that last one when I was signing up), from several small trucks into 3 big ones. The managers were, of course, assholes. They provided free water, but if any of them caught you taking a drink they immediately asked you to "pick it up and stop slacking".
I remember struggling with a +100lbs box one night, I weighed about 100lbs soaking wet at the time, and the area manager walked by, looked me dead in the eye and kept on going. Dick.

Operaista
Sep 16 2012 02:10

So, my first first job was a paper route at the age of 10. The thing with paper routes, at least at the time, is that the local paper sold the idea to parents as “teach your kid to run a business”. This meant that while the price of the paper was set by the newspaper, you were billed by the newspaper, just at a slightly lower rate than the weekly subscription, which you then had to go around and collect from all your customers. There was always a few who either didn’t believe in tipping, or didn’t get that more than half my income was tips, and then there was always a couple who would go weeks at a time without paying, and then wouldn’t have the money. There’s nothing quite more ridiculous than a ten year old trying to shake people down for money so they can pay for the newspapers.

Newsies this wasn’t.

Anyway, I kept the paper route until I left home to go off to school at 17, and it conveniently broke up my afternoon enough and paid enough that I only worked summers in high school, which was good, because I didn’t have any connections in town that would hire me before I was 16.

So, first hourly waged job was bagging groceries at a local supermarket. Bustedness with this job: getting punched out at the time required by child labor laws, but being made to continue to do clean up for free until closing was done. Being forced to dress “professionally” (a step above business casual) and doing physical work inside and outside a grocery store. In summer. In New England. People getting fired for getting caught not turning down tips from old ladies who were very insistent on giving them to you because you got their groceries to the car. Never getting a break ever. And, of course, we were all either teenagers, or people who couldn’t get a job anywhere else, and the lower levels of management were all 18 and 19 year olds who had worked there a couple years and were shameless ass-kissers who concentrated all their efforts on sucking up to the store manager.

Choccy
Sep 16 2012 12:55

Retail - working in a clothes shop.
£3 per hour sad

It was a small chain owned by a single family who had family members running each shop. Spent a lot of time unloading vans of cheap tshirts and jeans, unpacking boxes, and hanging shit. Then trying to stop hoods and gluesniffers coming in.
Late 90s there was a real problem with gluesniffers/hoods and drunks coming into shops round the part of Belfast I worked, these kids were fairly nuts, a few I recognised from the bus ride to school, mostly joyriders. Hands permanently up their jumpers with a 'bag of dip'.

I used to hate trying to get them out. and thinking back, should never, as a weedy 17yr old, on £3 per hr, ever been put in that position, while the boss was off driving here and there 'overseeing' his 'empire'.

The job itself was dull monotonous, till work, stock work, same songs on radio every fuckin day.

The best part of the day was doing the 'change run' - going to the bank to get loose change, meant I got out of the shop for 20 mins, small mercy.

jef costello
Sep 16 2012 16:09

Some great posts

Ed wrote:
To be honest, even though that job was shit I kind of miss having a pointless job when you're young and just don't give a shit. It was kind of empowering (in a way that I don't have now).. so like I stole shamelessly (Vitamins, organic cheeses, fucking weird multi-bean wraps and shit)

I really sympathise with this too. I feel like I'm at a point where I barely have fuck all but stand to lose it if I don't carry on with my shitty job.

First job: Working as a shop assistant in a supermarket in the fruit and veg section. Manager was ok, the ones between him and us treated us like dicks, he used to just try to motivate us and work with us to get us to speed up. Fruit and veg is great, it's the high volume section so there are always colleagues to talk to, it's the first department in the shop so you can wander off and help customers. Shifting sacks of potatoes helped me get into shape and you can eat as much fruit as you like. The bosses were so worried about people nicking chocolate and other stuff that they didn't notice fruit much. there were loads of small acts of solidarity and we fucked about constantly but ultimately we toed the line most of the time. When I first started I handed a few chocoalate wrappers and stuf that I'd found to the manager and worked really hard so after a month or so when I was skiving they always trusted me. On my evening shift I'd take an hour break on a four hour shift. I just learnt how to make a clear appraisal of what work needed to be done so that the guys who got in early wouldn't be pissed off and complain. They even put me in charge in the evenings, which I got no money for and shouldn't have done. But I was better at organising the skiving than the other guys and that avoided us having a real manager.

Edit: I never fucked with the food that was going to be sold, no matter how annoyed I was. We damaged shitloads of stuff but we just put it in disposals. Our boss used to complain that too much was being wasted but there wasn't much he could do.

Nate
Sep 16 2012 16:51
jef costello wrote:
I'm at a point where I barely have fuck all but stand to lose it if I don't carry on with my shitty job.

This, so much. And if I lose the job my family lose their health insurance. The really shit jobs were really shit but it was fun to quit them and I was more bold when I worked them. Once I got old enough that I was supposed to not be working those kinds of jobs anymore I think I was also pretty angry like all the time which is a lousy way to live but also made me bolder. Now I feel more desperate and trapped and less rageful. Not sure that's trading up.

Choccy
Sep 16 2012 17:15

Yeah I can identify with the last few posts. As pointless and poorly paid as my first few shop jobs were, I knew they'd come to an end sometime so cared much less about them, had more fun mucking about. My current job I've no idea whether I stick with it another 5 years or 35 years.

Jimbo888
Sep 17 2012 00:10

As an 'ole leftie nut - actually thinking about this of late. I'm writin' a small paper on my first job. It was seasonal work. My grandfather and dad bribed me into workin' in a strawberry field for two summers. I was 13 and 14 yoa. My sex buddy(young friend) also talked me into it, for I would probably have never have done it, if it wasn't for him. Odd - he's been dead for years -- the virus. It was brutal and very hot. I was pickin' dang berries in one of New England foremost fruit growin' areas. The owner was OK, but his brother was a boy-lover, accordin to my 'buddy.' This creep was very sleazy and humungous in girth - he'd stare at me and I'd keep my distance from him. I worked till it got too hot and my mother or my buddy's dad would pick us up after 6 hours of work. I received several nasty sunburns, and realized from that young age that I'm very prone to solar damage.

Kureigo-San
Sep 17 2012 08:41

I had a paper round for about a year and a half when I was 14. I only got £12 a week for Monday through to Saturday, getting up at 5:30am on frosty, pitch black mornings to be shouted at by elderly curmudgeons on my route for not delivering their paper in precisely the fashion they desired. Also my 'employer' would try to cheat me out of my already meagre wages by trying to tell me that 'x didn't get their paper this morning'. Being young and clueless, I just accepted that maybe I did post the paper in the wrong place..as unlikely as that was. Eventually I resolved that the next time it happened I was going to argue my case. It didn't take long to happen again; It just so happens that that very day I had systematically recorded all of my deliveries in my little notebook as I did them, so I was in no doubt of myself so I was significantly less easy and meek than I had been previously. She kept trying to give me conversational cues that the conversation was over but I kept at it, incensed by the injustice of her blatant horseshit. Then her husband got involved and started shouting at me for suggesting that his wife is a liar, to which I replied that "I'm not necessarily calling her a liar, she may well be sincere but she's sincerely wrong - I have the notebook". After that she agreed to pay me the 20p she was trying to deduct, and actually had the audacity to huff and puff and make out like I was being a big drama queen over 20p. Twenty pence is a fair fraction of £12.

Then there was work experience at a cafe, which was infinitely shittier. I was still doing the aforementioned paper route at 5:30 so I was exasperated and forlorn before I even got in the doors at 9am. I witnessed some pretty horrendous violations of food safety standards, the most noteworthy being the owner scraping gravy off of peoples' plates into microwaveable tubs for re-use. I was too tired to pretend that I held any sort of passion for washing this woman's dishes and they often tried to make out that I was stupid and slow, which I suppose is what it seems like when I don't have the energy to speak to anyone. I got some weird sexual comments from the much-too-old-for-it-to-be-cool woman that worked in the kitchen.

The owner was in the habit of offering me lunch there every day, I had declined fairly politely for a few days because of the hygiene standards that I'd seen..but after a few days I got up the backbone to reply "Only if you're not giving me someone else's dinner" - I've never seen a smile erode so instantaneously.

She paid me even though she was not obligated to though, which is more than can be said of most peoples' experiences of free labour programmes. Pretty meaningless work of course, and I didn't learn a single skill contrary to the promises of vapid propagandist justifications for unpaid work. But we all knew that anyway, didn't we.

arf
Sep 19 2012 10:39

My first proper job (not an odd job thing I mean) was a Saturday and after school job at a greengrocers, £2 an hour, when I was 14. One Saturdays work was enough to buy a new album and a cheap bottle of wine. Instead of a till we used to tot up the customers goods with pen and paper, which I liked cos I was good at it and it kept my mind busy. I also used to like tearing up the boxes out the back of the shop, it was hard on the hands and my arms wd get covered in paper cuts (not a big deal but this is a place where we worked with fruit, good and acidic, just lovely on paper cuts). Some of them were good big slices too. But that was still an enjoyable part of the job cos it was outside and on your own, might be out there for an for an hour or so just doing it and thinking in peace and quiet. Worst part of the job was the manager, who was a bully, she had her favourites, then ppl she mostly ignored, then ppl who she shouted at and gave the shittest jobs. Obv that corresponded exactly to the arselickers, the keep your head downers, and the mouthy little gits. It's never divided by effort or ability is it? Funnily enough I cd deal alright with the shit jobs, my ability to deal with it ended when we got uniforms - a peach coloured jumper with an embroidered logo of cherries. The humiliation. I got another job and informed the boss by phone I wouldn't be coming in anymore, she said good and hung up on me. That's a theme that carried me through work tbh. I did a week of a paper round once for a mate who was on holiday and needed someone to fill in. Unbelievable, that was. A massive pile of papers, and tons of ad papers. Had to go through them putting one of each of several junk mail ads in every paper. Then lugged them about delivering them for hours, exhausting and painful all over. Total respect for the kids who do that job for next to nothing, very hard and completely thankless work.

Serge Forward
Sep 20 2012 11:52

On the subject of paper rounds, my pre-first job then... I started with Monday to Saturdays, later when I was 13 (and legal age for child labour), I took on Sunday deliveries - which was a complete bastard of a day and I soon regretted it as I was only 4 foot and a fag high and the bag weighed a fucking ton.

Bizarrely, I can still remember the weekday papers I delivered: 1 Guardian, 2 Daily Mail, 1 Daily Express, 2 Sun, 1 Morning Star and everything else was the Daily Mirror, by far the most popular rag down our way. Afternoon was simples, just the Manchester Evening News... 'a friend dropping in' as they used to say.

Comics day was Thursday, I think, and I was always late for school on that day. Late with everyone's papers as well. One of the Daily Mail tossers used to regularly go mental at me sitting on his step, reading his kid's copy of Sparky and him not being able to read his Mail over brekky. He complained about me, so next day I made sure I dropped his shitty paper in a puddle. At the time, I acquired a pair of clogs of a neighbour. These had big irons on the sole and heels. So, Sunday, I put them on and stamped my feet outside the fucker's window. He came out in his jim jams and shouted at me but didn't complain any more after that grin

Claim to fame time... if any of you has ever seen the Jack Rosenthal TV play, Another Sunday and Sweet FA, the opening scene of two kids scrapping outside the referee's house was filmed on my paper round.

The boss was a tight-arsed money grabbing cunt who paid the lowest rates, but beggars couldn't be choosers and we were all on the lookout for a round at some of the better paying newsagents. His son later took the shop over and has since built an little empire by taking over the next door grocers and has put the nearby outdoor out of business as well. He's always been a cunt though.

Packed it in at 14, when I got a job stacking shelves at a supermarket in Eccles, which was later used as the location for Reg Holdsworth's supermarket, Betterbuys, in Coronation Street.

Eeeee... it's like a Hollywood tour, my work experience laugh out loud

syndicalist
Sep 20 2012 16:50

Happy birthday Recomposition folks.

Ed
Oct 13 2012 14:58

So me and a workmate were talking today about daft stuff we did as teenagers and I mentioned some stuff that happened when I was working the job I mentioned above which ended with "and then I phoned in and pretended I couldn't come in because I was sick" when I realised something fucking awful..

I had more rights at my first job than I do now!!!

Seriously, what the fuck is that about? Back then, I could phone in sick and still get paid for it.. in my current job, if I don't come in I just don't get paid.. fuck, when they sacked me from that job they even paid me for the holiday pay that I'd built up in my time there, in this job I don't even get paid when they close the school for the summer.. sad

That is fucking shit.. that in almost ten years since I started that job my actual conditions of employment have worsened.. fuck me.. is that the same for anyone else? I'd bet its true for most of the other TEFLers, but for people in other industries?

Fuck me..

flaneur
Oct 13 2012 19:04

I went straight from college to the public sector with £1200 take home pay, sick pay and holidays years ago now. Every job I've taken since has been minimum wage with no benefits. So it's not just you.

plasmatelly
Oct 13 2012 19:14

No paper boys or girls? I was. Thatcher would have been proud. Then prouder still that I ended up on the Work Experience Program as a broom pushing trainee mechanic. Bought a pair of 501's with me first pay packet and looked like Nick Kamen after someone had been chopping logs on his face. Happy days.

cardy lady
Oct 13 2012 20:10

my first job was as a dishwasher in my friend's parents' restaurant when I was 14, once a week on a saturday, shift was from 6 - 1am, they were greek cypriots and the restaurant was in Edgware, I loved it, I was able to pay for my school trips to wales with the money, pay was £10 for the evening which was pretty good in those days, I did get tired towards the end of the shift but we got a break at around 10 at which point we could choose anything from the menu (that was obviously my favourite part!) - though my first proper job was when I was 17, I had just dropped out of a levels and left home, within a week I had a job working for the law society in the accounts department, checking bills manually, those were the days when there were actual jobs still (and you didn't need a phd to work in admin), year 1978, pay £30 a week and subsidised canteen, I could walk to work as I lived in a hostel just off tottenham court road, and spent most of my money on rent (£15 a week), food and alcohol, i would frequently pull all night drinking/nightclubbing stints and go straight to work the following morning, we had flexi time and when i could i would pitch up at 8am as not many people were in at that time and one of the other girls in accounts would take me down to the canteen and we would chat and have breakfast for an hour when we should have been working, my boss cottoned on to the fact and pitched up early one time to catch us, i was quite oblivious i was actually doing anything wrong but he took a dislike to me after that, i got bored though and decided to move onto the GLC as pay for similar work was £50 a week

Serge Forward
Oct 14 2012 00:09
plasmatelly wrote:
No paper boys or girls? I was. Thatcher would have been proud. Then prouder still that I ended up on the Work Experience Program as a broom pushing trainee mechanic. Bought a pair of 501's with me first pay packet and looked like Nick Kamen after someone had been chopping logs on his face. Happy days.

Yep, I was a paper lad and on the WEP as well (see earlier posts).

Putting my pedantic hat on here... the Work Experience Programme was at the time of the Callaghan government. Thatcher's versions were the YOP and YTS programmes.

plasmatelly
Oct 14 2012 08:26

You're right Serge - I read you post first and couldn't remember the name of it - 1985/6 for me and I think they had just got rid of the YOP scheme even though we were still known as Yoppers. I think we were the first year of YTS. It amounted to the same thing - very well polished floors! A 2 year course that was supposed to be the equivalent of an apprenticeship. I lasted a couple of months at best before they sacked me for skiving.

Nate
Oct 14 2012 16:42
Ed wrote:
in almost ten years since I started that job my actual conditions of employment have worsened.. fuck me.. is that the same for anyone else?

It's not just you. Depressing shit.

commieprincess
Oct 15 2012 14:36

I worked at a weird maths after-school club thing (Kumon Maths) marking test papers when I was 14. It was very odd, and pretty fucked when I look back on it. I got the job because my school friend worked there, someone quit and they needed someone to replace them quickly.

So I turned up with my friend one day, no interview or anything and the manager didn't even introduce himself. My friend showed me what to do (the maths students would line up with their tests, I would find the corresponding answer booklet and mark it. Joy.)

I was never told how much I'd be paid, my boss just silently gave me an envelope of cash at the end of the month. (A whopping 30 English Pounds for 10 hours work! It felt like a lot at the time...)

The main things I remember are getting told off for talking to a colleague sitting next to me whilst marking the test papers. Somehow the idea that a 14 year old who'd been at school all day might not be able to sit in silence for 2 and a half hours was difficult to grasp for this socially stunted manager. Who was employed to work with children.

And also getting in trouble for helping younger kids with their work when they asked me. I mean like 8 year old kids who were counting things out on their fingers. I wasn't to be trusted to help children half my age count to 10. It was all part of their learning philosophy or something.

Anyway, after working there about 6 months or so, I was "let go" via answering machine. Class act. Not that I'm bitter or anything.... Weirdo bastards...

Chilli Sauce
Oct 15 2012 15:08

So I hadn't planned on posting on this thread, but my partner has reminded me that some fucked and interesting shit happened on my first job.

When I was maybe 14 or 15 I got a job doing landscaping. It was through a local "small businessmen" who was a shady character and a coke-head to boot. I was paid under the table, in cash. The days were long and there was a super macho culture that came down from the owner--people who complained about sunburn, hunger, getting lost on the way to a job, whatever were made fun of, both to their face and behind their back.

Now, what was interesting, is that the 'crew leaders' were all white and the majority of the workers were Mexican (paid under the table and probably not all documented) with the exception of a few of us white boys who had got the job through one of the owner's neighbours. The Mexicans though, must have had some degree of informal organisation. I distinctly remember overhearing the boss complain that "on slow weeks, they drag out a job to get paid for the hours, but on when they get the hours they want, they can finish a job in half the time". It didn't particularly strike me at the time (being a bit of a liberal and, honestly, probably enjoying working for a 'small business') but when I look back on it, I would have love to have been more cognisant of those sorts of pace of the job dynamics.

I worked at the job for maybe two summers and, to this day, that fucker still owes me over 400 dollars. So there you go, my first experience in the job market ended up in wage theft. Maybe I give punk too much credit when it comes to my anarchism....

Now both of my younger brothers work irregularly in landscaping. That industry is fucked. Lots of shady small business owners who pay cash-in-hand and just constantly break labor and safety legislation. For what it's worth, the folks I know in the field (which, to be fair, are mostly white so I don't know if it's the same for immigrant laborers) are conscious of the fact they're getting fucked, but also know there's a massive supply of labor, so they keep their heads down. Plus, all the white boys still get come in at higher pay and get all of the supervisory positions. I mean, someone I'm very close to is a fucking junkie and got hired in a crew leader. Conditions seem a bit better in the larger companies--you're on the books, pay is regular, and some heed is paid to safety on the job.

Webby
Jan 18 2013 13:22

My first job was in a fruit and veg shop sorting out stock in the back store and loading up the racks in the shop front.
The 2 guys that I assisted were complete bastards who amongst other things rubbed rotten veg in my face, burnt my neck with spoons dipped in a boiled kettle and hosed me down with very cold water in the back yard in the middle of winter.
God knows how I put up with this for the 3 months that I stuck it out for.
The final straw came when I had an accident with a veg trolly and ripped my fingernail clean off. It hurt like hell and I began to feel faint so went to the staff room to sit down. Shortly afterwards the manager came in and told me not to be such a pussy and clocked me off. I waited till I felt better and then left.
2 weeks later the manager died in a RTA whilst driving the works van. To my shame I recall having a good laugh when I found out - he was a complete wanker but his death should not have been a laughing matter.