Gainfully Employed

My son recently started his first job. He’s following in his father’s footsteps as a gainfully employed bag boy at the local supermarket. It’s actually the same supermarket I worked at as a senior in high school. Well, it’s a newer building(the grocery I worked at was recently demolished so the city can put up a new 4-story apartment building), and it’s a different name as well as Owen’s was bought out by Kroger a few years ago. But technically it’s the same store. There’s even one of the check-out ladies still there that worked there when I was asking if you wanted “paper or plastic?” Ila. She was something else.

So yeah, at 17-years old the boy is now gainfully employed. He’s been talking about getting a job for a year now. He even applied at the same supermarket last June but nothing ever came of it. Turns out while applying for the job this time he went into the long dormant email address he was using for job apps last year and found an email from the supermarket they sent last June. Apparently he never went in to check back then. Anyways, it worked out for the best. The boy took summer school last summer, as well as was busy with band so the job might not have worked out as well last year.

My first job was at 17 as well. I started working at Penguin Point the summer of 1991. Penguin Point is a regional fast food chain that are famous for both the Big Wally(think of a Big Mac, but with tomato and a sauce that looks and tastes a lot like tartar sauce), as well as their Tenderloin sandwich. Back in the day PP was the “People Pleasin’ Place”, in that their food was actually pretty good. But like with everything over time the quality diminished and they became just another lousy fast food joint.

I worked at Penguin Point from June to September of 1991. I quit because they wouldn’t agree to my demands of no weekends(what an idiot I was), so I joined the Richard’s Restaurant team. They were like a homestyle restaurant that served all those home-cooked meals everyone ate at grandma’s on Sunday. Meatloaf, fried fish, turkey manhatten, and of course their famous fried chicken. I was in charge of doing dishes and breading chicken for the Sunday church crowd. I hated this job with a passion. I’d talk music with a couple of the long haired stoners that worked in the kitchen, but mostly I was alone with my thoughts and my absolute disdain for the post-church munchies these God-fearing a-holes would bring with them to the restaurant. I guess praying and worshipping deities got these folks hungry, and what did they want? Fried chicken.

I lasted at Richard’s for about two weeks and said the hell with it. October and November of ’91 were lean months with no job, but then a friend at school got me an interview at Owen’s Supermarket where he worked. I loved Owen’s. That’s where we got our groceries. I knew the store inside and out. Plus, I’d work with a pal from school so that’d be a cool. By the grace of the grocery Gods I was hired not long before my 18th birthday. I loved that job, too. I got to wear nice clothes, a tie, and had my long hair pulled through the back of the hat. I was stylin’, yo. I mainly did bagging groceries, but over the course of the almost year I worked there I did things like clean carts, replace the lights throughout the store, stocked shelves, and cleaned the bathrooms. I made a few friends there as well. Two of us were even sent to the owner’s home on Center Lake to replace his flagpole for him(official grocer business? Not really.)

Eventually though, the video rental business beckoned and I left Owen’s in October of 1992 to rent porn and video games to former teachers and burnouts. The plan was originally to start going to school part time, but then I realized I had no interest in furthering my education and just stuck to renting the latest movies to the greater Warsaw community.

I’m glad my son’s first job is working at a supermarket. I told him fast food wasn’t the way to go. With his long hair he’d smell like a fryer 100% of the time, which would end up in his car and then his room. With working at the grocery you’re up and moving. There’s lots of options for jobs at the grocery store, too. You’re never bored. Sure, you have to deal with the general public on a face to face basis. But that’s good practice to develop thick skin and work on that “public face”. It’s like acting in the worst play ever, but it’s a skill that will come in handy for the rest of his life. I know my “public face” has saved me from many awkward conversations about politics, religion,…well, pretty much anything Russian bots comment on that your relatives post on FB.

While I’m happy that the boy is now gainfully employed and can pay for his own gas, help with car insurance, have his own spending dough, there’s a part of me that is a little sad. He’s the last of our children to take that big step into the working world. Besides his band obligations he was pretty much home most of the time. He has friends over to jam with in the basement and does go do stuff with pals and the like, but mostly he was home. I’d schedule at least one weekend taco night for us and we’d figure out what classic horror or gangster flicks we’d check out. Or just dive into a new series and see what happens. My point is that he was my viewing companion and fellow taco enthusiast. I could count on good conversations over food prep and vinyl spinning as I sipped on a pint and he indulged in an ice cold orange Fanta. Now that he’s got a job those days are going to dwindle. My movie partner and fellow taco enthusiast has got a work life outside of the house now.

I’d never come out and say “I’m sad you’re working because now taco/movie night won’t be the same”. Those are the feelings a parent keeps to themselves and just figures out what life will look like from here on out. Hell, I’m the one that pushed him to get the job. Despite how it affects weekends for me, I feel it’s important for the boy to work for his own money. We told him as long as he was involved in band that we’d take care of his gas and extra-curricular food expenses. I wasn’t involved in anything when I was in high school, other than playing guitar in the basement and buying music, so me getting a job made sense. But with practices and Band Camps and weekend competitions it was going to be hard for him to make time for a job. As long as he was busy doing something, then we’d take care of the gas situation for him.

But band is winding down now, and car insurance and gas aren’t getting any cheaper so it was time for the boy to leave the nest and make bank bagging canned vegetables and frozen pizzas for the local natives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for him. He’s tired, but he’s not complaining. And once he gets that first check he’ll know the tired is all worth it.

I’ll adjust to these new weekend vibes. And hopefully he’ll have at least a Friday or Saturday evening open so we can continue our journey through the great horror and gangster films of the last 50 years. And regardless of any part time job or weekend schedule, taco night will live on.

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