By Johannes Helmold
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Everyone’s first job is special. There are a couple of reasons for this: the experience is burned in one’s memory, it gives you the practice needed to fulfill other positions, and it teaches you about the value of money. Of course we do jobs around the house when we are young, like cleaning dishes, vacuuming, and doing laundry, but working for others for money gives off a different feeling.
When I was about sixteen years old, I wanted to buy albums from my favorite bands, but I did not have any money. My parents were not the type of people to give money to me out of nowhere, or even for work done at home. I had to find work in order to purchase the music I wanted.
So, I inquired as to who could give me work around town. I lived in the town of Woodway, which was relatively small, with no street lights, and hardly any population. But my neighborhood, Twin Maples, had enough people, especially elderly people, that needed help in their yards. I went to the oldest person I knew in my neighborhood, Mrs. Hudson. She was over eighty years old, and could not tend her garden anymore. She had flowers, a grass lawn, and some tomato plants. I knocked on her door, building up enough courage to ask her for work. She answered that indeed she needed help in her garden. She did not discuss the amount of money I would get for the work.
My first job was to pull out weeds. I got down on my knees with foam protectors and began to pull out weeds one by one in her front yard and backyard. After this tedious task, I mowed her lawn—front and back. That was it for my first day, and it took me about two hours. I asked her much I would get paid, and she said, “I will give you $5 an hour. I don’t know much people are paid these days, anyways.” It was less than I thought I would get paid, but at least I had a job.
After getting that $10, I walked the few miles to the supermarket at the top of the hill, above the Puget Sound. I went to the electronics section of the supermarket, and bought an album from the band “Tool,” which was extremely popular at that time. It was dark and richly-layered alternative rock music with sinister lyrics: the type of music teenagers enjoy.
One of my favorite hobbies was to lay on my lawn with two computer speakers between my ears and to listen to music with all of its nuances, moods, and atmospheres. This, and taking in the fresh air of the woods around me, was a sort of bliss. That is why I worked: to make these moments even more rapturous with more music.
After many days of working for Mrs. Hudson, and buying more CDs, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to save money for something even more interesting than music: a Gameboy. Gameboys at this time were all the rage, so it was natural for me to yearn for it. I started to work for multiple clients, so to say, in order to earn enough money to purchase this prized possession.
When I gathered enough money to buy a Gameboy (it was about $100 at that time), I went out to a shop and bought a shiny red one, and one game to play on it. However, after one day of playing on it, I realized that I had made a mistake: it was not as fun as I thought it was going to be, and I felt like I wasted my money. I sweated in the hot sun for hours doing yard work to buy something I did not want. So, the next day, I returned it for a full refund. From then on, I bought only music albums with my money.
I think everyone should get on one’s knees and pull weeds. I believe everyone should at least once work for an elderly person, and help him or her take care of his or her garden. I think everyone should feel the searing sun on one’s back as they mow grass. It seems these experiences harden our spirits and resolve, and make us more in touch with the earth. Besides this, a first job like this supplies you with the value of money, as sweat turned into cash is something no can take away from you.
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