Now that school is out and the first long weekend of summer is behind us, some kids are finally getting back into a routine. And I’m not talking summer school, or even summer camps.
I’m talking the hard cold reality of cheap labour.
Yes, many kids are now hip-deep into full-time hours at their summer jobs, a right of passage for nearly every teen in Westman.
My first summer job was the summer of 1987. While my parents took me to Clear Lake to work at McTavish’s Ice Cream store and restaurant, the Bangles played on the radio alongside Bon Jovi, Glass Tiger, Huey Lewis, George Michael and Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam.
And while Ronald Reagan was U.S. president, and Brian Mulroney was prime minister, playing at the log cabin theatre that year was "Beverly Hills Cop II", "The Secret to My Success" and Mel Gibson’s new movie called "Lethal Weapon."
Minimum wage that year was $4.70 an hour.
Ah, the freedom of working on your own without having to pay bills yet was an amazing feeling, so enjoy it while you can.
For there are some things many don’t think about when getting a summer job, but now you’ve been warned. Here are the five things nobody tells you when you get your first summer job:
You thought your parents have rules? Wait until you get a boss
Your parents have rules and your parents tell you what to do, but they love you and deep down you love them (whether or not you admit that is not up for discussion). But what I’m saying is your boss doesn’t have to like you. Your boss doesn’t even have to be all that nice to you. You’re there to do a job and do it well. It you don’t, or you slack off, or you complain, you may get it worse than you ever did at home. And remember, your job today is your reference tomorrow, so be sure you do your best.
At first you’ll have more money than you know what to do with
You’re not used to a five-, six-, seven- or eight-hour workday, making $10 per hour for a few days a week. Picking up weekend shifts here and there, working casual, that’s different. If you’re working full time, 35 to 40 hours a week, even at minimum wage, you’re gonna see a big increase in your bottom line. And you’re gonna feel like its rainin’ cash. At least for the time being.
They call it work for a reason, and they pay you because of that reason
Work can be tough. Feet get sore, hours get long and you’ll be praying for your bed after some shifts, but it’s a great experience. You may not see it now, but my raisin hands from dishwashing and sore feet from all that standing helped mould my thoughts on work today. And it’s to do as little as possible. Just kidding. No, I’m not.
The harder I work, the more I’ll make
WRONG. However that’s true at first — up to, say $8,000, which is quite a bit of cash for a young person with no bills. However, after that magical $8K, something fantastic happens ... something that feels like a hand sliding into your pocket without you actually feeling it. Yes, it’s taxes — the wonderful world of government taking your money without explanation, and without recourse on how you get it back (until you do a thing called hire an accountant).
Someone I like/admire will see me at this job and I will feel embarrassed
The last one is the least of your worries. Because this happens to absolutely everyone. While lots of young people find work as lifeguards or camp counsellors, just as many are forced off the beaten path to find their first paycheques, and for some they’re embarrassed more often than others. But take heed — even celebrities had jobs where others did a double take and said, "What?! You work here?!"
I’ve listed a few famous examples. (Who would have thought Gwen Stefani and I would share beginnings. However in the end, she would record the music and I would just play it.)
• Gwen Stefani’s first job as a kid was mopping floors at a local Dairy Queen. I mopped the floor, did dishes and scooped ice cream at McTavish’s.
• Beyonce’s mother owned a salon when the future pop star was growing up, so the aspiring singer picked up some extra cash by sweeping up hair.
• Matthew McConaughey left Texas for Australia. To support himself, he took on a number of jobs, including one that involved shovelling chicken manure
• Orlando Bloom’s first job was working at a skeet shooting range as a clay pigeon trapper when he was just 13.
• When country star Clint Black was 14, he got a job selling newspaper subscriptions door-to-door in Houston. Tom Cruise’s first job was that of a paperboy.
• Bill Cosby played four sports in high school and still found time to sell produce, shine shoes, and work as a stock boy at a supermarket.
• Vince Vaughn was a lifeguard at the YMCA.
• Eva Mendes sold hot dogs on sticks in a shopping mall. Sure she did. Guys were buying them by the dozen even though they were sold individually.
• Bill Murray never worked as a greens keeper, but he did have an interesting job selling chestnuts outside of a grocery store. This would serve him well for his eventual role in "Caddyshack".
• Brad Pitt did all sorts of things to earn a buck while he tried to start his acting career, including dressing as a giant chicken to promote an el Pollo Loco restaurant.
• Victoria Beckham played a sperm on roller skates for a BBC sex education show, called "Body Matters." Now when it comes to funny ‘my first job’ stories at a party, Vic takes the cake.
• Rachel McAdams worked at McDonald’s for three years.
• Jennifer Hudson worked at Burger King.
• Channing Tatum was a stripper, calling himself "Natch". He did it for eight whole months when he was 19. He didn’t just play one in "Magic Mike" — he was one.
• Hugh Jackman worked as a party clown, charging $50 per show.
• Kanye West worked as a sales assistant at Gap. I wonder if he interrupted customers every time he spoke to them.
So whether it’s fast food or ice cream, mopping floors or stacking chairs, a job is a job — and congratulations on entering the workforce.
And always remember, it could always be much much worse. When someone asks you if you’re embarrassed to work where you work, just tell them about Victoria Beckham. Because at the end of the day, I like money too, but you’d have to pay me quite a bit to play a sperm on roller skates on TV.
Enjoy your summers of freedom, money, and little responsibility. It will all come to an end soon enough.
Fran MacDonald Gibbons
Jodi Lynn Woychyshyn
Teena Michelle Clearsky
JOKE THIS WEEK
So you want a day off. Let’s take a look at what you are asking for.
There are 365 days per year available for work. There are 52 weeks per year in which you already have two days off per week, leaving 261 days available for work.
Since you spend 16 hours each day away from work, you have used up 170 days, leaving only 91 days available.
You spend 30 minutes each day on coffee break, which counts for 23 days each year, leaving only 68 days available.
With a one-hour lunch each day, you used up another 46 days, leaving only 22 days available for work.
You normally spend two days per year on sick leave. This leaves you only 20 days per year available for work.
We are off five holidays per year, so your available working time is down to 15 days.
We generously give 14 days vacation per year, which leaves only one day available for work.
And I’ll be darned if you are going to take that day off!