First Jobs

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.