Working for Minimum Wage

September 7, 2008 by Kailani  
Filed under random thoughts

This morning, a bunch of my friends and I were talking about our first jobs.

One guy used to work at a service station (back when they provided service), one girl worked at McDonalds, and another girl in a popular retail store.

Me? I used to clean classrooms at my high school. Thinking back, I realized that it was a relatively easy job – cleaning the chalkboards, emptying the trash cans, sweeping, and clapping erasers for 5 different classrooms. On Fridays, I would also have to mop the floors. I hated Fridays.

I was fourteen when I first started and made $2.10/hour. Back then, that was a lot of money and I thought I was rolling in the dough! Woo hoo!

Do you remember your first job?

Spotlight Comment from Val @ I Know EVERYTHING . . . just ask my hubby:

My first job was delivering newspapers. I started when I was about 11 and had enough to send myself to England when I was about 13. I always had money back then, because of the tips. I had more singles than an exotic dancer. Hubby used to always kid that he married me for my paper route.

About the author:
Owner and founder of An Island Life. Sharing my life as a mother to 3 wonderful daughters, working as a flight attendant, and living a blessed life in Hawaii.


50 Responses to “Working for Minimum Wage”
  1. Mozi Esme's Mommy says:

    Those were the days! Not counting babysitting, my first job was grading typing papers for my typing teacher. And all of my pay went to my education – no fun money. At least I didn’t have to work in the school cafeteria.

  2. AmyG says:

    I did a lot of babysitting in middle & highschool & that’s where I made most of my money. I did try out a regular job, once. My senior year in highschool I worked at a Subway for a month. My Dad made me quit when he came by one night & saw the two teenage boys, I worked with, goofing off while I did all the work. He really didn’t want me working anyway.

    I’m not really sure at home much I was making, though. I know it was minimum wage, but what was that, back in 1989? lol OK, I looked it up & it was $3.35/hour. Yikes!

  3. Deb - Mom of 3 Girls says:

    My first ‘real’ job was in a donut and ice cream shop the summer before my senior year of high school, making minimum wage ($3.35 at the time). Before that I babysat for $2/hour – and thought I was rich. ;)

  4. Melissa Markham says:

    Other than babysitting jobs and a house cleaning job, my first job was as a grocery store cashier. I think I made 3.00 an hour or somewhere around there. I got a raise after about 4 months. Had to quit after I went off to college. I loved that job and we had so much fun!

  5. Melissa Markham says:

    Other than babysitting jobs and a house cleaning job, my first job was as a grocery store cashier. I think I made 3.00 an hour or somewhere around there. I got a raise after about 4 months. Had to quit after I went off to college. I loved that job and we had so much fun!

  6. Summer says:

    My first real job was at McDonald’s for $5.75 an hour. I don’t even know what minimum wage is now.

  7. Jen @ One Moms World says:

    I was an office assistant at a grocery store making 4.00 a hour. I think I was something else LOL. So wild how times have changed… just wonder what the minimum wage will be when our girls get old enough to work.

  8. witchypoo says:

    Yep. It was at a candy store, and the proprietor introduced me first off to the broom.

  9. Cathi says:

    Besides babysitting, my first job was at a gift shop called The Plum Tree in the mall. I was fifteen and earned a minimum wage of, I believe, less than $2.00 an hour. It was 1972.

  10. Carey says:

    My first job I worked at a clothing store called Hit or Miss. I was paid 4.70 an hour. It was a decent job.

  11. SANDY says:

    yep lawncare and doing 3 am routes as a teen doing sick routes delivering bundles to the route people with family for the chiago tribune..boy I leanred to hate riding in cars when my fingers were frozen and everything had black ink all over it

  12. Qtpies7 says:

    Outside of babysitting, my first job was waitressing. I cannot remember what I was paid. That was 20-21 years ago. But it was a bit below minimum and then I got tips. 90% of business in a small town cafe is from old guys, lol. It was a LOT of fun. There was one guy there who was identical to my step-grandfather. So I brought a picture in and the guy about fell over! He couldn’t have been sure it wasn’t him except that grandpa was posing with grandma! LOL It was funny. They grew up about 50 miles from each other.

  13. VeRonda Wicks says:

    Yes. I “volunteered” (only b/c I have a late bday and wasn’t quite at the age to work) for a local Congressman (then Delegate). I folded envelopes, watched the stamp machine, answered calls here and there, and ran general errands. It was the best! I am still in very close contact with the Congressman and his assistant (she was immediate supervision)… Wow! Thinking back.

  14. Desert Songbird says:

    I went the traditional route – i worked fast food. I worked at Arby’s four days a week for something like $3.25 an hour (or whatever the minimum wage was in 1978).

    It fit in with my school and extra-curricular activities, since I was super busy with those and busting my tail studying. It was great experience.

  15. LuAnn says:

    The first job I had was working in housekeeping at a condo-hotel at a ski resort. I started 12/26 or 12/27/76. My parents had a time share at the same hotel. Minimum wage then was $2.65/hour and I thought I was RICH! *lol* The 4th day I worked as New Year’s Eve and it snowed so much that they closed the canyon road. So, they had to give us a room for the night and money for food. We got $10, which back then was enough for a full steak dinner! One day, too, I got enough in tips that my pay was doubled…I thought that was great!

  16. Kimberly says:

    My first job was during the summer between my junior and senior years in high school (back in the 70s). A bunch of us worked at a faucet manufacturing plant on the assembly line. I don’t remember what the hourly pay was but my paycheck every Friday (for 40 hours of work) was a whopping $89.00!! I thought I was rich! Of course I was because I wasn’t paying rent or any bills or buying groceries or gasoline or any of those things that adults have to do……boy, those were the days!

  17. Muthering Heights says:

    Following family tradition, I worked at McLanahan’s Student store, a local shop in my hometown that caters to college students and visiting alumni. My father, aunt, uncle, cousin and sister all worked there too for their first jobs!

  18. Renee says:

    I started babysitting when I was about 13 and I did some pet sitting too. when I was a bit older and my brother was sick I did some of his lawn mowing jobs.

    My mom wouldn’t allow me to get a “real job” because she didn’t want anything keeping me from my studies.

    so when I was 18 I got my first job at an Arby’s making min wage $3.& change. I only got the job at Arby’s because I was that majic number of 18 and old enough to work the slicer & fryer. But they also wanted me to be a closer which mean I had to clean the slicer too. Well I wasn’t big enough to clean it! I still don’t think I have the strength to carry some of the parts…and since they’re covered in roast beef grease I was constantly dropping them on the floor. I was ALWAYS getting written up! They eventually got smart and stuck me in the drive thru, which is where I worked for most every fast food place there is.

  19. Dee says:

    i worked at taco bell for 3.10 an hour.

  20. maria says:

    I had a paper route at about 11 or 12, umm 5 am EVERY day of the week for about $20 a week. And I did it for close to 3 years. In upstate NY yet, so in Jan, it was coooold!!!!

    I look at my kids and know they could never do it, they really have it good.

  21. sagemom says:

    My first job was working at my high school after school in the office–doing clerical work. I think I got paid about $4 something an hour…

  22. matt says:

    I washed dishes at a local restaurant when I was 15…what a pain….and my wife wonders why I hate doing dishes at home :-)

  23. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Kailini – I did lots of babysitting and stuff. But my first real job was as a Saturday girl in a shoe store. I made £1.04 an hour, but that was a long time ago.

  24. Krista says:

    Other than the requisite babysitting my first sort of job was as a paper carrier in about 1993. Thankfully ours is an afternoon paper so I didn’t have to get up early (or I wouldn’t have done it!) I know I didn’t make much doing it. First job after that was the summer after my freshman year of high school, I worked in a sausage stand, came home smelling of grease, and made I think $4.95/hr.

  25. Ohana Mama says:

    My first real job was for Chart House restaurant as a hostess. I was 16 and made minimum wage which I think was $4.25 at the time. woohoo! :) Funny…now after college (and student loans up the yingyang!) and years in “corporate America” I am back to working two nights a week at a restaurant, this time as a cocktail waitress but making about 8 times more an hour than I did way back when (with tips ;) ). I love it and it’s my “time out”, haha! Talk about going full circle!

  26. Melissa says:

    Yep :) Have you ever been into a convenience store and bought a sub sandwich all wrapped up in saran wrap? I made those! :) I was 15 and it was a crazy job sometimes, but most of the time it was just me and one of my friends listening to the radio and slicing meat :)

  27. Melissa says:

    Wow… that was a lot of smiley faces!! Sorry… :D

  28. Kalani says:

    I’m going to date myself (as a youngin)… I fell out of high school straight into the dot com boom in the mid 90’s. I forsure made better than min wage but then again, I did often sleep for a hour or two under my desk at night so as to make our often ridiculous deadlines. lol It was the best of times, it was the worst of time. :-)

  29. Lissete says:

    My very first job was at JC Penney. Usually in the candy counter back when they had those. I was 15 and earned minimum wage which I think was $3.25. What I learned from that job was a) that I did not like working in a retail store and b) that I would never buy candy from there ever! ;)

  30. Ginny says:

    Well I babysat, but my first real job with an actual paycheck was at a clothing store in the mall. I think minimum wage was $4.20 then, I got the job a little after turning 16.

  31. Christine says:

    Besides babysitting (which I did for one family for an unbelievable two dollars an hour for two kids. And if I was there two hours, I got four dollars.) Then I graduated college with a bachelor’s in Journalism, couldn’t find a job, and paid a headhunter $1000 to find me one. That paid $10,400 a year.

  32. valmg says:

    My first job was delivering newspapers. I started when I was about 11 and had enough to send myself to England when I was about 13. I always had money back then, because of the tips. I had more singles than an exotic dancer. Hubby used to always kid that he married me for my paper route.

  33. Tena says:

    I was a hostess with the mostest… okay maybe not the mostest, but enjoy your meal anyways!!

  34. Christine@AreWeThereYetMom says:

    Not counting my first job as a computer inputer, that was only for a month or so, as a Summer job, when I was 15,
    my first real job, was at a Soup/Salad/Sandwhich deli, in South Coast Plaza. If I remember, I made $2.75 and hour.
    Wow! Even waitressing in the SW is $3.90 an hour +tips, except CA, I think it’s $7-9 an hour plus tips. Makes me miss CA! *sniff*

  35. Christine@AreWeThereYetMom says:

    BTW~ There is an award for you over at my place.

  36. Spice says:

    My 1st job was delivering newspapers too. I started when I was about 11 and saved up for a bike so I could then use it to deliver the papers rather then walk. I used to hate the Sunday paper b/c it was so thick!

  37. Kelly@SHE-POWER says:

    I tutored people in essay writing and english. Not a bad first job and paid okay. I think I got $10 an hour and that was 20 years ago. My second job was working in a produce store, lugging bags of horse manure and feed. Good exercise. I would work Saturdays 8am-3pm and would get paid $50.

    I later waitressed, which I hated!


  38. gomomyourock says:

    I think my first job was delivering flyers – my brother and I got a penny per flyer for each one we delivered around the neighborhood – I think we made $2 each for about 3 hours work – can you say child labor?!

    After that I was a paper girl with a morning route. I was 13. There is no way on earth I’d allow my girls to do that these days. Great money though!

  39. diana/sunshine says:

    the first job where i made money would have to be babysitting. i never enjoyd babysitting so i didn’t do it long. when i was 15, i got a job a k*mart as a cashier. it was minimum wage but i don’t remember what it was at that time.

  40. Jenni says:

    I was a babysitter for years and then my first real job was at the mall!

  41. Jen@Happily-Ever-After-Land says:

    That would be at The Buckle, a retail store known for its jeans. I was a horrible sales person, and was fired, I mean, “let go” after Christmas was over. It was a good thing – I was really really horrible at it!

  42. laura says:

    your first job was my first job too.
    lioke you, i was 14 they year i worked cleaning and scrubbing classrooms at a local school in my town. i worked hard and was absolutely thrilled with my first paychecks. because of them i was able to buy my own clothes for school.. that was a huge independent step for me.

  43. Forgetfulone says:

    My first job was at a guest ranch where they held company picnics. I had the most boring job at first… sitting in the putt putt area handing out balls and clubs. I moved up to running kiddie rides, then to concessions, and finally, to lifeguard. Everyone had to help serve lunch and clean up at the end of the day. That part was the worst, walking the entire parking area picking up trash. This sure brought back memories.

  44. Holly Schwendiman says:

    I’ve always heard and believed that you have those first jobs to learn what you DON’T want to do for the rest of your life! LOL My first jobs were babysitting and almost always for change which totally stunk. I also did cleaning gigs for college apartments…totally gross!


  45. BlapherMJ says:

    My first job was delivering newspapers, which I started when I was 9. My siblings and I shared the paper route, and I truly can’t remember ever having any money from it! From there I went on to yard work, babysitting, and then finally got my first job where I was paid with a “real paycheck” when I was 16. I worked the counter at a local drugstore. In other words, I was a waitress, short-order cook, busgirl, cashier, dishwasher and mopper all for minimum wage. Plus tips of course! LOL,

  46. Pamela says:

    I painted one summer with a crew –
    mostly I painted the window frames and doors.
    I learned how to cut in clean and precise so there wasn’t much clean up on the glass.
    AND… how to paint with oil base.

    I think I was 15… ??
    I think now that would be against the law.

  47. Sandier Pastures says:

    My first job was at McDonalds when I was 17. I was too busy behind the cash register and while taking the customer’s order, I did not notice I was face to face with my dad!!

  48. Rick Bucich says:

    Dishes, dirty dishes. Not too many fond memories and a humbling experience.

    Everyone should work food service at least once.

    Actually, before that I worked in neighbors’ yards, I think I liked it more.

  49. Asianmommy says:

    I worked at Fannie May Candies when I was 16. All the free chocolate I could eat!

  50. UptakeInOH says:

    I taught Safety Town! I loved the kids and it was one of the few jobs I could do at a young age–I think I was in 8th grade. I don’t remember how much I made, though.

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