I first started working before I was even legally allowed to work. In Canada, you have to be 15 years old to be hired at a job. I think I was 14 at the time but was turning 15 after the summer. Boy, I was sure excited for my first job! So excited that I had no idea what it really entailed. I was just happy to get some work experience in order to move on to bigger and hopefully better things.
I was a canvasser (going door to door) for a charity (it seemed kind of dodgy because I don’t think it’s in existence now) that helped impoverished people and children in Canada. I seem to recall that if we collected X number of donations (like a quota) we would get a small bonus.
I remember being rounded up in a van and being dropped off in various neighbourhoods with nothing but a donation receipt booklet and a pen. We then met up at the end of the day and got rounded up in the van again.
I learned that some people who you would not think is generous are very giving, and some houses that look lavish and beautiful don’t actually house the most generous individuals.
The great part was I got to see these huge mansions in West Vancouver (the super ritzy area of Vancouver where all the celebrities like Sarah McLachlan and the cast of the Real Housewives of Vancouver live ) that would take me 2-3 blocks to walk up to their door and ring the door bell. The bad part of the job was that sometimes people really hate seeing canvassers.
The absolute worst thing I can remember is after having this man slam the door on me to tell me to “go away and [email protected](* off”, he actually turned on the garden sprinkler on me at full blast and I got completely soaked. This is without me provoking or harassing him in anyway.
I was shocked that people could be so mean.
Another part of the job that I am not proud to admit was that I often got people at the door asking whether I was volunteering or whether I was paid. I suppose a young 14 year old girl canvassing at their door really tugs at the heart strings (?). I would clench my teeth and lie and say I was volunteering (yeah, I was a somewhat rebellious teenager at the time).
To this day I cringe with the memory of me lying in order to get more donations.
My dad owns a number of rental properties and out of
love pity, he hired me to clean one of the office building areas he rented out. It wasn’t a bad job in terms of pay. I didn’t have to lie to anyone and I didn’t get hosed on. I worked once a week and got paid $20 for 1-2 hours of work. It worked out to be pretty good teenager allowance at the time.
The part of the job that I didn’t like so much was cleaning the bathroom. I’m not trying to sound like a princess or anything, but cleaning *WARNING NON-G RATED MATERIAL UP AHEAD*
wiry pubic hairs off toilet bowls isn’t my idea of a fun Saturday night.
Yeah, while everyone else was working at McDonalds and developing good teamwork skills, trendy restaurants with big tips, or other cool places, I was spending my Saturday nights scrubbing toilets and vacuuming.
Nevertheless, I am appreciative of these experiences I had as a teenager because I believe they help build character, especially when, at that age a teenager would normally be self-absorbed and ambivalent.
One regret I have is that I never worked in fast food or in the restaurant industry and I wish I did (I always wanted to be a server but would probably be fired for my clumsiness).
I am glad that I started working when I did though. It gave me a chance to have my own money to be more independent, manage my time more efficiently, and learn a bit about personal finance.
Readers, did you have a job as a teenager that you still have vivid memories of? I would love to hear it! Did you ever have a job you always wanted to do in high school but never got to do it (e.g. server at trendy and hip restaurant).