“Would you kids like to stay up until your parents get here? As soon as we hear them pull in, it’s up to bed quick as you can. Okay?”
What kids wouldn’t agree to such a proposal? Stay up late while the babysitter takes the rap if they get caught? But, this first-time babysitter had a problem. Oh, it wasn’t the kids, though they did have behavior problems. The trouble was the creaky old farmhouse they lived in, the one which could have been from the set of some horror movie.
BUT it was my first job. I would earn money of my own. I sat for five hours with four school-aged kids and one dog which was having breathing problems because of eating a chicken bone. I even did their dishes which filled the kitchen sink, the table, and every available counter. My first paycheck: $5.00.
Although I watched those kids several times, I didn’t start earning real money until my first big-girl job as a hostess at the local Elby’s Family Restaurant. I don’t recall my starting wage, but that job didn’t last. Maybe because of my dislike of coring two huge mounded flats of strawberries every shift … or maybe because of my embarrassment from hanging up on the “big boss.” I’d answered the phone right when I’d gotten a $600.00 overring on my register and forgot to hit “hold” before putting the receiver on the hook.
When I graduated, I moved into full-time jobs, such as working at Murphy’s Mart, where most of my paychecks went to paying for things on layaway for my coming wedding. After that, I had a stint at the Great A & P Tea Company (because my dad worked there, and this was the only thing I could do that he did … another story someday). Again, didn’t last long … my husband yelled at the manager when I called to take off because I was sick.
Finally, I landed a solid, full-time position as a bookkeeper and the die was set. For the next four years, I worked in accounts receivable, accounts payable, and accounts computerized (a.k.a. the first time a computer was used in the office).
Another job, one which I’d prepared over 50 years for, came with several paychecks of varying amounts, $0.00 being the prevalent one. Yes, I meant zero dollars. Writers are taught not to give up their day job.
But what about having to PAY to get a paycheck? That was a new one to me, but it’s exactly what happened on my first REAL sale of two articles a couple summers ago.
Preparing for a writers’ conference, I’d done my homework, studied the marketing needs of the publishers and editors coming to the conference, and wrote several articles and devotions to pitch to meet those needs. I met with an editor of online inspirational websites. She accepted one article, for which I knew there would be no monetary reward. Knowing ahead of time about the no-pay standard, the thrill came from her acceptance.
When it came to the second article, I met with the woman editor of an online magazine for writers. She enjoyed the humor in the article and offered to buy it for $10.00, the price mentioned on the website as their normal payment for articles of this type. Again, no surprise there. HOWEVER … in order to see said article when it got published, I had to purchase a subscription to the online-only magazine … a subscription costing $25.00.
So, those of you to whom math comes easy will see I paid $15.00 to receive a paycheck for $10.00!
Fast forward to 2020 and the tides turned! I sold seven devotions to Guideposts for the All God’s Creatures 365-Day Devotional for 2021. I already received the payment for these devotions, an amount allowing me to attend a new writers’ conference. Now, that’s a paycheck I thank God for!
What about you? Tell us about your first paycheck. Where did you work? What did you do there? Was the pay worth the job? Leave your story in the replies’ box.
PS: If you aren’t yet subscribed to get automatic messages when a new story comes out, please consider doing so. If you are, thanks, and accept my apologies for the long hiatus I had from this blog. Too many reasons to spell out, but I’m back and ready to share our stories again and get to know one another! Blessings!