My first real job was at Sears Roebuck. I’m not counting those earlier babysitting jobs. Although they paid well – 25¢ an hour. First of all, the only requirements to be a babysitter were to be a girl and older than the ‘babies.’ So I was hired. I was the youngest child in my family – I had absolutely no experience with babies or young children. What were they thinking?!
I babysat for the Prices, our next door neighbors, and for the Humphreys’ – can’t remember any others. It was after a tragedy at Humphreys’ that I retired from babysitting. Several days after I had stayed with their newborn, the baby died. SIDS. But this was the 1950s and not much was known about these deaths. But even at my young age I knew it could have happened on my shift. And I would have carried that responsibility forever. I never babysat again.
So to that real job at Sears. I was hired as a Personnel Clerk just before the Christmas season. I took applications and sent off requests to the references. The application asked for all jobs held in the last five years – dates, contacts, full addresses, job description, and reason for leaving. And if for any reason someone was unemployed for more than a month or two: dates, reasons why and references who could vouch for the gap. I sent out requests to every employer and personal reference (three, please).
Well, some folks couldn’t remember the exact date they were hired at or left a job. Some couldn’t even remember the year. I was amazed. I could remember the day I applied, the day I interviewed, the date hired. After all, this was my first job!
Now I’m not sure what year that was. And I certainly don’t know how long I worked there. I could no more account for every job and non-job period in my life than fly. But I do remember that indignation I felt as a teenager with my first job.