October 17, 2010

Sharing Memories (Week 46): First Job

This is Week 46 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey Journal. Your memories are your legacy to your children and grandchildren. Don't let them be lost over time. Join us and write your memories down, either privately or as a comment on this blog or on your own blog.

Today I'm sharing what my first job was. It occured to me that my own children probably don't know how old I was when I first took a part-time job. Or what the job was. In fact they likely have no idea of all the jobs I've worked at over the years, so that will be another blog post.

A few months after my father died, my mother decided I needed to help bring money in. The way she put it was that I would have to buy my own clothes from now on. I was 14 years old and in Grade 9 and boy, I did not want to get a job! Our homework load was huge and I had no idea how I would get all my schoolwork done if I had to work. I was a pretty serious student, getting top grades was important to me.

Ajax Public Library & Ajax Town Hall Buildings
Taken around the time I started working there

A part time job would also mean I had to give up my extra-curricular events I'd signed up for, but my mother was boss so I resigned myself to the outcome. Soon enough she had a job all lined up for me - working in our local library after school. A meeting with my new boss-to-be was intimidating and he informed me that I was expected to be at work by 4 pm Monday to Friday, plus three nights a week (7-9pm) plus all day Saturday.

I was horrified. I didn't know how I could get my homework done, get to work on time and have any kind of social life. I timidly explained that we didn't get out of school until 3:40 and I couldn't make it to the Library in 20 minutes. Plus we might be delayed by our teacher or given a class detention.

Mr. Vickers, the Head Librarian, didn't care about my "excuses" as he called them. I was to be there on the dot of 4p.m. no matter what. And so began two years of misery. I was often 5 or 10 minutes late. Teachers would wait to give out papers or homework after the bell rang for dismissal. Class detentions were sometimes given.

In the winter I would race to my locker (as fast as I dared for I didn't want another detention for running in the halls) and start throwing on my winter outdoor clothing while frantically grabbing books and binders for homework. Then I'd rush off as quickly as possible but to no avail.

Interior of Ajax Public Library.
One of these girls might be me, I am not sure!

Mr. Vickers would give me "the look", frown and look pointedly at his watch. At the end of every week he'd call me in for a talk, chastising me for my tardiness. After two years I was having even more trouble as my knee was constantly giving way on me when I walked. This knee problem had been going on for several years but it was not until I was 16 that I took matters into my own hands, went to a specialist and ended up having my knee operated on when I was 17. But that's another story for another day!

I was so afraid of Mr. Vickers. To me as a 14 year old he was a crabby man who was always annoyed with me. But he was one of my mother's best friends and I suppose that is why he didn't fire me.

I did end up liking my job and by the time I was 16 Mr. Vickers had put me in charge of the Children's Library on Saturdays. I loved that as I got to play at being an actual Librarian! Eventually when I quit working there, Mr. Vickers actually suggested I think about taking Library Sciences at University and told me I had done a good job all those teenage years. What high praise! I had no idea he was happy with my work and had spent all my time trying to stay out of his watchful eye.

I never did take Library Sciences, my interests lay in attending the College of Art in Toronto. But that never happened either - another story in a future Sharing Memories Journal entry perhaps......


Robin said...

Thank you for sharing that! You know, your right... our children need to know those stories too. Great lessons learned as well.

Mary said...

Great story. Did you manage to keep your grades up?

Genealogy Blogger said...

@Mary - they weren't as good as I wanted! Back then (in the olden days) we were segregated by "smarts" and there were 9A, B, C, D etc classes and so on through each grade level.

I was in the "A" classes BUT to my chagrin I was NOT the smartest in the class! In fact I was in the bottom half which did not please me at all :-( I expected/wanted to be in the top 10 but alas that never happened.

It wasn't necessarily that I didn't have time to do my homework properly or study for tests but probably because there were a lot of kids in my class in Gr 9 & 10 that were a heck of a lot smarter than me!

Kristin said...

i feel like i should start a blog just for my memories. reading this brought back memories of my many jobs. i even almost worked at the public library.