My in-house college student works two mini part-time jobs, and is looking for a third. The hours are sporadic and sparse. Barely enough to cover his required expenses, he has yet to experience the freedom of cash in the pocket. He’s not had enough left over at the end of the week to enjoy a dinner out with friends that doesn’t involve a drive-through window.
I started my first job at 15, just months shy of my 16th birthday. A brand new store in a brand new mall, just a mile from my house. I rode the bus to work ‘til I was able to drive, enjoying the after school escape from babysitting younger siblings. Destination: Just Pants, a midwest chain of, you guessed it, just pants!
Stacked on shelves all the way to the ceiling, the upper shelves reachable by rolling library ladders. A ubiquitous den of denim - flared, faded, dark or army drab. I was thrilled to be allowed to hang out in this teenage gathering spot - until I realized I was actually expected to work while I was there. Folding, refolding, picking up off the floor, folding, taking them out of dressing rooms, refolding. I could fold perfectly with my eyes closed, bopping to the disco music playing overhead.
But the best, the very best part of all this was earning my own paycheck. Blue jeans at a discount, enough money for gas and Big Boy’s and some left over to go into my first savings account.
It sure seems like my part-time job back in the early 70’s provided much bigger dividends than my college student is now reaping. He gets it though - the connection between earning, spending, saving and the inherent adultness of it all. And really, all the fun therein! The no one can tell me what to do with my money pose. The satisfaction of paying his way, wobbling his way to independence. Don’t you just remember how good that felt!