You gotta start somewhere
People ask me: “Hey, Alec, how did it all start?” I’m assuming they’re referring to how did I build this media empire, as opposed to when did my hair decide to go into the witness protection program.
This got me thinking about my first real job that actually paid money. The summer between high school and college I worked in a children’s clothing store on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco. What did I know about children’s clothing? Absolutely nothing. Retail? Nope. Sales? Negative. Did I ever wear children’s clothes when I was younger? Well, yes I did, and I guess that was enough to qualify me for the job.
This may not be a shock to you, but I wasn’t very good at it. Women would come in to buy OshKosh B’Gosh outfits or Garanimal pajamas for their grandchildren and ask my fashion advice. Seeing my deer-in-the-headlights look, they’d go find the other clerk who worked there. I’m sure I inadvertently insulted some people by asking how much their chubby kids weighed. Seemed like a practical question at the time.
And retail can be sooooo boring when no one comes in. I’d find myself staring at the clock, praying for 6 p.m. to roll around. I almost hoped that someone would come in and rob us just for the excitement. “Here, take the cash and all the Garanimals you want!”
At least I can check that one off – never sell children’s clothing again!
Ann’s first paying job was in high school, working as a cashier at the Avalon Drug Store in Houston, Texas. She got to restock all the candy, fill out charge slips for people with monthly accounts, and she remembers that she was really good at making exact change, now a lost art.
Sarah Phelps’ first job as a teenager was at the Glen Ellen Village Market where she was a stocker. Sarah remembers having to clean up gross things that people hid in the back of shelves, while feeling slighted that the management didn’t think enough of her skills to make her a bagger. Let it go, Sarah, let it go.
All three of our kids bussed tables at Doce Lunas Restaurant back in the day. One of them, who shall remain nameless, spilled a glass of water on someone on his/her first day there. But he/she was not the only Peters to drop something while working in a restaurant. When Ann was a waitress, she dropped a whole pizza upside down in a man’s lap. Despite obsequious apologies, offering to pay for the dry cleaning, and giving the table a free pizza, she still didn’t get a tip. Shocking.
We all learn on the job, especially the first job, and especially if it’s a service job of some kind. It does make you a little more forgiving when orders get mixed up, or end up where they don’t belong, like all over your clothes.