Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Summertime Job for a Rural Girl

Most of the time as a rural teen my job was to play my guitar and be a free spirit. It was my 17th year, my summer before my senior year of high school, that I decided I wanted a job. That year, I had been given my 1965 Ford Mustang (see photo above of my car, my aunt on the left, and myself on the right) that needed gasoline to run. Moreover, I didn't want to burden my parents with the expenses of my final year in high school. I needed a job.

I found a job.

Well my dad actually told me about the job and probably talked to the owners for me, because suddenly I had a waitressing job at a small resort restaurant, in a state park, near where I lived. This was the same state park where my dad worked for many years. He KNEW people. I worked all kinds of shifts. Sometimes I worked the breakfast shift, but mostly dinner. I worked Sundays in the beginning, but later somehow finagled it where I rarely worked on a Sunday.

It was hard work for a rural princess, with manicured nails, to work as a waitress. But I persevered. Well, except I almost quit the first week. Here’s what happened.

I hadn’t been at the job too long when I came home and told my parents I was quitting. I hated smelling like a restaurant. I hated getting up early some mornings and working late evenings. I hated that some of the older waitresses didn’t like me because the lead waitress loved me. I had many valid stupid reasons why I needed wanted to quit something that was out of my comfort zone.  As I shared my woes, my dad sat quietly for a minute or two and then told me that he wanted me to give the job one more week. If I still hated it, then I could quit, but first I needed to give the job a fair shake. He told me he thought I would get use to it and enjoy the money after all was done.

He was right.

I did get use to it. And I did enjoy the money. Not the 50 cents an hour that I made, but the tips from the very generous steak eating fishermen. I made $500 that summer. That job helped me buy many of the things that others would buy for their senior year of high school, gas for the car, and clothes to wear.

Working at the state park was a good way to meet guys, if you liked smelly older fishermen with waders. Oh and then there was the rich young man - who was too old for me in spite of his youth. He was related to the owners of the restaurant. He would come to the park every weekend. And every weekend he would invite me to his room at the resort – also family owned- for a drink. "I have some good Scotch", he would say.  He was a repeat performer. He asked me the same thing every weekend that he stayed at the park.

And every weekend, I would politely tell him to take a long jump off the rural bridge just down the highway.

I learned that summer:

1. That fishermen are fine fellows.

2. To carry two platter dishes on one skinny arm.

3. To make shortcakes (pancakes).

And most importantly,  I learned -don't quit before you give something a real chance.  I even used this wisdom with my children over the years and with anyone else who hated their new situation.  I changed it a bit, I would say - give it a month and you will get use to it, if not then leave. Most of the time it works. Most of the time it's about adjustment. But, sometimes it's just best to walk away.

I found this journal not too long ago of my projected expenses for my senior year in high school.  If the numbers are correct, I had plenty of money leftover to play.

Rural Significance: Back then, it was more difficult for a young girl to find a summer job. The waitressing job was one of the best jobs I have ever had. I learned so much that summer about myself, people of The Ruralhood and about people all around the world.


Naqvee said...

you know what! i found your post exactly on the right time when i was requiring a decision to be made from my side!

it's amazing but not different how the girls of India Ruralhood grow and how you've had your time.

we guys dont work till we are in our teens .. but when we reach College , we gotta work coz of increasing expenses.galfrnds, frnds and party. but..but .. our tuition and other-fee like stuff "expense" our parents take care for...

i will hook up to what im doing! definitely will give it a chance ..


Mason Canyon said...

I'm afraid the youth of today will never appreciate things quite like we do because most have always had it and never had to work for it. There are no longer young boys wanting to mow lawns in the summer to make money.

Gotta love a '65 Mustang.

Thoughts in Progress

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

It sounds like one of those summers that at the *time* seemed really hard...but ended up being so rewarding in many ways, looking back on it! I had one of those, too.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Joanne said...

Sometimes I think we learn more from those first jobs than all the other jobs that follow. There's always a sweet nostalgia to them.

lakeviewer said...

What lovely remembrances and great lessons to pass on. You had a Mustang?Lucky!

Judy Sheldon-Walker said...

I worked my summers as a carhop and I agree with you that working definitely taught us something, plus if I hadn't, there would not have been much for me to wear. lol

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joanne .. now it's one of the things I wished I'd done - a job .. but my parents were separating and we always went away in school holidays (always had) .. so the concept never arose .. it was years later I worked in a bar, restaurant, etc ..

Love the car .. and your memories - thanks - Hilary

Indie said...

I love how you learned so much about yourself that summer.

Your rural blog is GREAT!

I am hooked and check it every day.

love and thanks just for being you...


Nezzy said...

My summer job was a lifeguard a the local Country Club. I worked my way through college and paid for a big part of my wedding doin' that. Of course that was waaaay back in the early 70's! I think those early jobs really teach us a lot about people and life.

What a wonderful read this way. Thanks!!!

Have a wonderful day!

Mary Aalgaard said...

You're right. There are times when we need to just give something a chance, but there are also times when we can sense we are in the wrong place and to get out. You also learned how to ward off advances of an unsavory character. Good for you! Great story. Love the pic, great hair!

Angie said...

You know you never truly appreciate what you had until you grow up. It is so good to look back and think that you might of worked hard at the penny-paying job you had but you were so happy and proud when that money added up and you could buy something. You took more pride in it because you bought it! I agree that kids today don't know how good they have it!

Angela C.