Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Looking Back (not so fondly) on my First Job

As a teenager I racked up plenty hours babysitting for local kids but my first real, actual, on-the-payroll job was in a shoe shop. Heaven for girl of 16 years and 3 months right? NOPE, think again.

This shoe shop wasn't Kurt Geiger or Schuh or even the footwear department in Topshop. Oh no, this was one of those crappy stores where are the shoes are on the shelves in their pairs already and if they're not on a shelve they're hanging on a rack or stuffed in a bucket near the door. Nothing cost more than £15.99 (knee high boots) and our bestseller was crushed velvet slippers, literally flying off the shelves with the over 80s crowd.

Shoplifting was rife. Sometimes people would steal shoes but leave their old rancid pair on the shelves for us to dispose of. Sometimes they'd replace our shoes with shoes from another crappy store leaving a trail of unsellable goods across the city like some weird shoplifting version of Hansel and Gretel.

One time a drunk man wondered in and shouted at me to get on the counter and dance for him. At the time I thought this was hilarious but looking back I'm all, EWW GUY!

Internet, I saw a lot of disgusting feet.

I stayed for 8 months until shift where head office called in the middle of the day and told us to close the shutters and pack up all our stock. We were told we weren't going to get paid for that day so I just walked out. I do wish I'd stayed to help. Everyone lost their job that day, it wasn't just about me.

I worked 2-3 days a week around college and earned £3.33 an hour. At the time that felt like loads but I've just looked up minimum wage for under 18s in 2013 and am sad to see that in 12 years it's increased to just £3.72 and is even lower for apprentices. I don't really do regrets but reflecting back, I do wish I'd started saving some of my earnings from that age. I've always worked from that day on but didn't put a penny into a savings account for another 5 years.

What was your first job?

This post is part of the Blog Every Day in May challenge


  1. I had a great earner as a kid: I used to ring bells for weddings at a local church.
    For 15 mins after the wedding (Had to get there about 10 mins before that so let's round to 30 mins total work) I'd earn between £5.50 and £7. During the summer we'd get up to 6 weddings a day squeezed in.

    But my first real job was working on the checkouts in Tesco. I used to make it more interesting by being friendly and talking to customers, but there's only so much you can polish a checkout job. Though my main displike for it was that I worked Friday and Saturday nights when I was 16 -> 17 - missed out on so many cinema trips because of that :(

    1. I worked in a cinema from 18-21 so got many years of free tickets out of it. Would say that is really the perfect place to work as a student!

      I agree that being nice and chatty to customers makes a huge difference to how you feel about your job.

  2. My first "real" job was at Sears, an American dept. store (a bit downmarket these days, although not so in its heyday in the 50s/60s). I was 15 1/2. I couldn't wait to start working, although I agree, I wish I had saved more before I had adult bills.