The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Reporter's Notebook

July 7, 2012

First job taught me value of a buck

We all have our first-job stories. After mowing Grandma's lawn for a few years and caddying to pick up some pocket change, I was hired at a nursing home as a kitchen helper. It was the first time I earned a paycheck that included deductions for Social Security and federal and state taxes.

I was 12 years old. Every Saturday and Sunday, I punched the clock at 6 a.m. and punched out at noon. The pay was the minimum wage, then $1.25 an hour. But it sounded pretty good, even though the hours and the working environment were less than pleasant. After all, my good friend, Timmy, was working at a fruit stand for 50 cents an hour, while his father, an immigrant from Ireland, was sweeping a subway platform floor for not much more money than I was earning. And he had 10 kids.

The nursing home also beat being a caddy, as the tippers were erratic. A dreaded duffer we knew as Muckah was renowned for being a cheapskate.

I caddied for him once and he fulfilled the advance reviews. A tobacco chewer, he bought you a hot dog at the ninth hole. But before he gave it to you, he had to take a bite. Then, at the end of 18 holes in the hot sun, Muckah tipped you 50 cents. I pocketed the two quarters from Muckah, gave up caddying and took the job at the nursing home kitchen.

After that, there would be a string of other minimum-wage jobs: bag boy in a supermarket, pot washer in a Jewish bakery and counter helper at a drive-in movie concession stand.

I could afford my personal necessities: Having enough money to squander at the pool hall and buying the occasional pair of Converse sneakers for the basketball court. Of course, I had no one else to support.

Text Only
Reporter's Notebook

Additional Content
Join the Debate
Additional Resources
CNHI News Service

Is Israel justified to conduct its military campaign against the Hamas in Gaza?

Undecided/no opinion
     View Results