As I looked back on all of the previous posts, I realized that most have the spoken or unspoken theme of discussing early retirement. With that focus on NOT working, I thought it might be fun to discuss actually working and this led me to think back to my very first job. Little did I know at the time that this was first day of the rest of my life (haha).
My very first job came to be while I was the ripe old age of 10 years old. I was in the 5th grade and had a classroom conversation with a classmate. She was complaining about her newspaper route. Yes, in those days (wow, I sound OLD) children performed the delivery of newspapers. So, this classmate was complaining that she didn’t want to do this anymore. I suggested that I could take over the route since she didn’t live very far from me and I was confident that I could handle that route on a daily basis. Additionally, the hot technology at that time was Video Cassette Recorders (VCR- kids, ask your parents). I had it in my head that I really wanted a VCR for my bedroom. This may not seem like a big deal in this day and age where most kids’ bedrooms have a TV, DVD player, computer, iPad, iPod, cell phone and any number of other devices where they can get video or other entertainment. But in my day, my parents, who went on to own a Video Store, didn’t even have a VCR in our Living Room.
I went home that day and asked my parents if they would allow me to take over this paper route. They quickly agreed and Ta-Da, I was in business. My classmate gave me a large canvas bag that she used to hold the papers. I spent what felt like hours attaching that bag to the handlebars of my bicycle. This was more time that I took considering whether or not I wanted this job. Once the bag was secure, there was no looking back. Each day, I would come home from school and there would be a stack of newspapers on my front porch. I would open the package and individually bag each paper and put them into the bag on my bike. I would then ride my route and toss the papers onto the driveways or porches of my “clients.” This was pretty easy work. I was essentially getting paid for riding my bike. At age 10, this was the greatest deal I could think of. I cruised along like this for the first week. Then the job changed just a bit. I quickly came to something called “collection day.” As a 10-year-old, I was perfectly comfortable organizing the papers, bagging them and riding around town delivering them but this was something new. I had to have the courage to interact with adults and ask them for money. This gave me an incredible amount of anxiety initially. I forced myself to just walk up to that first door and knock. Once I did, I realized that this super scary experience was not so scary at all. It was a great opportunity to interact with my customers, get feedback and ask if they had any special requests. I quickly came to relish this part of the job, not to mention that I would go home with a pocket full of money.
I quickly developed an organizational system to make sure I kept proper track of my accounts and also kept notes on customer preferences to make sure I met each request correctly. I began to develop relationships with those customers, and this had many positive consequences. I learned that by communicating and complying with their requests, I was rewarded with larger tips. This interaction also had additional monetary gains in that customers began to ask me if I was interested in other money-making tasks such as babysitting their kids, raking leaves and mowing lawns. As the first summer was approaching its end, I realized that I was getting closer and closer to having enough in savings to buy that VCR that I had my eye on. As my relationship with my customers grew, I must have shared with some of them that this was my initial goal because at the end of that first summer, one of them let me know that they had a VCR that they would be willing to sell me. They quoted a price that was a significant discount to a new one and I jumped at the opportunity.
With my primary goal satisfied, I continued with that paper route for a few more years, until the time came to hand the reins to my little brother. But I was very proud of myself for having a goal, working hard to achieve it and for overcoming my initial fear and anxiety of “collection days.” To this day, I encounter situations that present me with fear and anxiety and I often think back to that first job and remind myself that what seems scary almost never matches that level of negativity and I push forward.