Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

it  started out as a day to recognize the working force. Technically, it still is. But I think in our culture it has also become synonymous with the end of summer, the last hurrah before school starts in full force, before we prepare for fall weather... it's a time for family and picnics and maybe one last vacation while the weather is still nice. It is a kind of bittersweet time don't you think? Knowing summer is officially ending..... the evening shadows come a little sooner each day... creeping in like the tide, snatching up our pleasant evenings and replacing them with a sneaky chill in the air. Ah, summer, how we love thee!

But at the same time my heart rejoices because I truly LOVE autumn. September-October are my favorite months! I love-love-love the russet-goldenrod-crimson colors as they blaze across the mountains up above my town. We have a little road trip adventure planned for later this month and it is going to take us through some spectacular valleys where fall will be out in all her glory. I can't wait!!

But Labor Day. Back to Labor Day. I start thinking about the first 'real' job I ever held. Not the babysitting jobs, or the farm chores I participated in-- although those were important pieces in the overall picture of what it means to be responsible and earn money. No, the first REAL job was right after I graduated from high school. A job where I had to fill out the application, submit to an interview, wear a uniform and serve the public. Yep, my first job was, like so many other high school girls, Waitress.

It was in a little drive-in that has long since morphed into a full blown family dining establishment. But back in the day it was a Drive-In. The sort of place that cool kids cruised through on the  weekend, looking for other cool kids. The kind of place you pulled into with your car and picked up the phone and placed your order and the car hop brought it to you on a tray that attached to the rolled down window of your car. I did not wear roller skates, thank goodness-- I wasn't from THAT era! But between the car-hop service and counter service for inside dining, I got my first taste of experience with the public.
source: google images

I was terrified that first day! Scared of talking to strangers, unsure of how to make change, and no idea  for shorthand on the order slips. Oh, I am sure the other staff loved me. ;) I hung back just a tad, in my faded gold (butt-ugly) button up dress with white collar and cuffed sleeves, my little white apron stained and wrinkled. My dress itched and my feet were sore after only 2 hours of standing around learning the lay out of the kitchen, the storage area and the prep stations. I watched the assistant manager (a gal who was at least 6 months younger than me!) as she explained my duties and with shaky hands did my best to emulate her examples as we prepped food and stocked supplies.

The first time I took an order I stumbled over my words, simple as they were. ("May I take your order?") And eye contact? no way!!!I lost my place making change and could not for the life of me remember how to count back their money. I forgot to call out the order as I hung the slip up on the greasy cylinder over the food counter. I made so many mistakes and I was bone weary by the time my first shift ended. I was a wreck! The only time I sat down was when I went to use the bathroom and I wanted to stay there as long as I could! Laughing now over it, but back then it seemed like such a big deal!

This was the job that taught me about management and how it works, how sucking up could and did pay off, how quickly your co-workers could turn against you and what "flexible shifts" really meant: You must be flexible and work whatever shift they put you on at any given day. The schedule could and did, change each week. And getting a day off was a HUGE deal. You didn't just say "I need Friday off" and automatically expect to get it off... no, you better put in your request weeks in advance and consider it no small favor when your time off was granted.

I pretty much learned to hate management in that job. And not to trust my co-workers.

Still.... that first paycheck? That was both a thrill and a disappointment! I got paid!!! Yippeee!! Wait..... They took HOW MUCH out of my check????
And tips? Not on this job.

I lasted at this job about 4 or 5 months... and while it seems a life time ago that I worked there, those 5 months seemed endless when I was there. I've gone through a lot of jobs since that one. I did learn things in that job. Mostly about myself, even though I was too young and too messed up to really pay attention to what I was learning.

Today, this day, my labor day consists of blue skies and warm breezes, We don't have any picnics planned or mini-vacations. it's kind of like we were granted an extra Saturday this week.  My main responsibility today is keeping the hubby pumped about working in the wood shed and preparing for a visit later to see our grandson. It's an extra day of rest from a week of labor.

Whatever you are doing with this day, I hope it brings you refreshment. Have a blessed Labor Day.

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thank you so much for taking time to read and comment! have a great day!