Open Thread: What Was Your First Job?


Posting has been slow the last couple of days for, well, reasons.

In the mean time, I’ve been thinking about something a lot lately, though, as our nation debates policies like the minimum wage. Namely, my first job.

Or perhaps “jobs” would be more accurate.

When I was in the 5th grade I started a paper route with the Minot Daily News (I took over for my good friend Jamie Selzler, whom I would meet later in life when he was the state director of the North Dakota Democrat Party). It was a relatively small route, just a hundred or so deliveries, but still a lot of work.

It was seven-days-a-week job, whatever the weather, and I remember the Sunday and Wednesday papers being so heavy I couldn’t lift them all. Believe it or not I was a small kid back then, and I had to make multiple trips to get all the papers delivered. When the weather was bad, particularly if we got new snow that wouldn’t be shoveled or plowed yet while I made my early morning deliveries, my mom or dad would help me.

I worked that route, getting up every morning to get the papers delivered by 7:00am before school, for five years. I made a couple of hundred bucks a month, which I had to collect myself from the customers on my route, sending the Minot Daily their share out of my collections.

From the money I made on that route I bought my first car, an old Ford pickup truck my brother-in-law owned. I still wish I owned it. It had a bench seat, perfect for getting your lady friend to sit next to you, and it rode like a Cadillac.

Or maybe that’s just how I remember it, since it was something I’d bought on my own.

I think back on that job and I wonder why I did it. The compensation was tiny compared to the amount of work, delivering every single day regardless of the weather. I also wonder why my parents let me do it, given how often they had to help me with it, especially early on.

It also amazes me how attitudes have changed about these sorts of jobs. Would I let my daughter walk around the neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning delivering papers? It gives me anxiety to think about it, but she’d probably be about as safe today as I was back then.

I quit my route when I got my first “real” job, detailing used cars in the sweltering summer for my brother-in-law, but I’m glad to this day that I did it.

So, what was your first job?