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Suburban Island

Summer Jobs Across the Ages
Saturday, Aug. 07, 2004, 11:47 a.m.

QUESTION: A present for me?

WHAT I LEARNED: Every present from your kid is a good present.

My daughter has her first job and it is a million times better than my first job. She works in this fabulous gift shop that we have always loved to visit because of the lovely things that can be found there. The employees get to eat behind the register, and talk, and read stuff when it is quiet and they are not restocking or tidying or doing other shop things. They can drink their lattes while they work – did I mention that the coffee shop is a few doors down? They also get to be around beautiful objects of art and trendy chic fun items that you really wouldn’t mind having in your own home. And she gets a killer discount.

I, on the other hand, spent my college girl summers in the lingerie department of Montgomery Ward, working for $2 an hour and a 10% discount on store wares. You got two 15 minute breaks a day, which gave you time to hit the bathroom and drink a soda at the Montgomery Ward cafeteria. You got an hour (unpaid) for your lunch, which you could spend walking around the outdoor mall and using up an hour of your wages on an amazing sub sandwich from the resident deli. It cost a few more cents to eat-in rather than carryout but it was worth it. Inside, I could bask in the cranked up air conditioning while perched on a high stool at their tiny ledge of a counter and stare out their wall-to-wall window. I was addicted to these subs, which were prepared by a duo of sisters who were two of the largest women I have ever met. They took sub sandwich making to a new all time high and it was worth an hour’s salary to eat one of their sandwich creations. Perhaps afterwards there was time to rummage through the bins at the five-and -dime store. You could also buy subs at the five-and-dime – I never saw anyone do this however.

Back at the lingerie department there was work to do. We had rows of bras in boxes – my favorite was the hard pointed bra because it just said – hey, I’ve got breasts and I’m going to poke you with them if you give me any crap. There were no thongs, there were simply briefs and bikini pants. We had full slips and half-slips. We had nighties, dusters, peignoir sets, bathrobes, and even bed jackets (try to find a bed jacket today). We had to count the stock manually once a month, which was the most mind-numbing experience in the universe. We also got to field obscene phone calls directed to the lingerie department. Every so often the security guys spied on us girls from their little spy hole above the register area – enough said about that. They were losers. The icing on the cake in this particular workplace was that it was consistently and turn-away-business warm at Wards – at least this one. It was unpleasantly warm summer, spring, fall, and winter. Everyday was a long day in the lingerie department.

I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter called me and chirped – I bought you a present. My daughter has a job and some spending money and she’s actually spending a little of it on me. I was so psyched.

So what’s in this beautiful bag?

image by Suburban Island

I’ll tell you next time.

DETAILS: Coffee: I still haven’t gotten around to the coffee + Listening to: West Coast Jazz + Observing: a cool present from my daughter + Thinking: I love summer. + Weather: perfect summer day

Today’s Suburban Strategy: Get a Lush Life.

Today’s Scenic Cam: Need a haircut? Visit this Baltimore Barbershop.

Visit my fish: Life in a fishbowl.

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