My First Day At My First REAL Job

image of retro drive in

My First Day At My First REAL Job

My first day at my first “real” job is one I’ll never forget. What was your first job? Do you remember? How old were you?

I’m not talking about shoveling  the sidewalk for your parents or the elderly lady next door. I’m also not talking about babysitting for the kids down the street. I’d been doing that stuff since I was 11 or 12. I’m talking about your first “real” job. The kind where you had to have a social security card. You have to file out W-4 forms.

I was 14. It was the early 1960’s (yes, I know you are doing the math and yes, I’m old). Regulations weren’t as strict back then about the age you could become employed, the hours you could work, etc.

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Drive-in restaurants were very popular. These were the original drive-ins. Complete with car hops that came to your car, took your order and then delivered it back to your car. No calling it in on a speaker in those days. Your order came back to you on a tray that attached to the driver’s side window. This was delivered and put in place by the car hop.

image of old time drive in restaurant My first day at my first REAL job
Most old time drive ins employed car hops

Summer Was Close And I Wanted A Real Job

Summer was approaching and I wanted a job but didn’t want to babysit. I stopped at the A&W on my way home from school one night and asked about a job. I was given an application and headed home. As I remember it, I didn’t get any resistance from my parents so I completed the application and took it back the next day.

I got hired!! I was told what days to report to work for my “training” and how much I would be paid per hour ($1.25/hour – minimum wage that year!)  Tips were ours to keep. No tip sharing in those days. You got a tip? It was yours.

My first two days were spent learning how to make the drinks. Milkshakes, malts, cherry cokes and more. How to fill out the orders, make change, handle multiple orders and customers at the same time. Then the real test came. They decided I was ready to be on my own.

And Then They Turned Me Loose

I was turned loose with order pad and pen in hand. I headed out to the next car to take their order. It was a patrol car. That’s right. Like I wasn’t nervous enough already? The first car I waited on contained two cops on their break.

image of 1960's style patrol car my first day at my first REAL job
1960’s style patrol car

I got the order, turned it in to the kitchen and proceeded to take more orders from additional customers. Then the cops’ order was ready for me to deliver.

The delivery trays had a sliding bar underneath and two hooks that held them to the driver’s window. The theory was to hook the tray onto the window, then slide the bar into the driver’s door. The pressure then held the tray in place while the customer ate.

image of old car with car hop tray my first day at my first REAL job
In theory the tray is securely on the door!

The Theory And The Reality Don’t Always Coincide

I hooked the tray onto the window of the patrol car (all good so far, right??) Then I proceeded to slide the bar into the driver’s door. That’s when things went south. Rapidly south! So far south!! The bar slipped and the entire contents of the tray upended into the driver’s lap. Oh, did I mention that their order was two milkshakes?? Yeah, that nicely pressed uniform the officer wore? Well, he was now sporting two milkshakes in his LAP!!

Mortified doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. This officer handled it with an amazing amount of grace and forgiveness. After his initial gasp at being hit with two ice cold milkshakes landing in his crotch, he laughed! As I apologized profusely, he laughed. He then said he was headed home to change and they would be back for their replacement shakes in a bit.

My employers were a lovely couple in their mid 60’s who employed quite a few teenagers. Amazingly they didn’t fire me. I did get another lesson on how to work the trays properly so they stayed in place and the food stayed ON the tray instead of the customer’s lap. Thankfully that was the only customer that was bathed in shakes for the duration of my employment.

Now you’ve heard the story of my first job, we would love to hear your stories! Comments section is below. Please share your stories with us.

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    • Nancy
    • February 8, 2017

    Those trays caused problems for many car hops. A friend told me of bringing a loaded tray to the car of an elderly couple. The driver thought he should roll his window up partway midway through the tray fastening routine. The tray upended outward with the burgers and drinks flying to the pavement. My friend was bent down retrieving the tray and cleaning up the mess when the old gentleman flung the car door open yelling, “are you alright?” The big heavy Oldsmobile door hit her head and knocked her down. In falling, she hit the other side of her head. The manager called the ambulance and she went to the ER.

      • NoniKay
      • February 8, 2017

      I can see how that could have easily happened Nancy. Hope she wasn’t seriously injured!

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