(AG is fighting something awful and I’m operating on three hours of sleep. Hence, I’m copping out on my post today since I don’t want to miss two days already.)
I’ve been working since I was 14. I obtained a special work permit and held a part-time job when most of my friends were still babysitting.
I loved working and I hated it. This remains the case, I suppose, for many of us, but in the context of my part-time high school jobs, I loved what working brought me, but I hated that it meant missing out on so many of the things my peers were doing. When you don’t come from money, holding a real part-time job meant the difference between having clothes to wear versus having clothes to wear that were pricier that your parents refused to buy you when you went shopping. It meant having money to go out with your friends, a little more control. It was a necessity as much as a parental exercise in character building. I typically worked 20-25 hours a week, plus myriad school activities and schoolwork.
I plan to put AG through the same, though it’s my hope she won’t have to work in the same capacity I did.
I worked at a steakhouse, and at a Wendy’s. I learned what real work looked like, and felt like, and smelled like, and slaving over a grill sizzling with beef patties while being sexually harassed by the shift manager served inspiration enough that I was going to make sure I went off to college. To this day I’m very aware that my work isn’t real work, not at least as how the majority of people experience work.
No job stuck with me more strongly than that as a tape slinger for Blockbuster Video. For one it got me out of fast food and two there were few better places for a teenager to work in the 90s than Blockbuster. Free tape rental, discounts and movie screeners.
I worked there from 1992 all the way through college in 1996. Beginning near the store by my high school, continuing through college while I held other jobs, including at stores near campus. I made friends, made money, learned about responsibility and customer service. I was not the best employee they ever had, but I know I wasn’t the worst. I made wonderful friends there, including my first very real boyfriend.
It was announced today that, unsurprisingly, the remaining Blockbuster Videos in operation are being closed. Most have gone the way of the carrier pigeon already, of course, but I found it sad just the same.
So much of my youth is tied up in those earlier days of work, but maybe moreover so much of who I am now. I’m wistful to watch as a little sliver of my youth shutter, inevitably, sadly, likely to be forgotten for good.