Our 16-year-old daughter is a very responsible child who loves to shop and wants to drive; so it came as no surprise when she announced last month that she would be looking for a job. We aren’t sure, however, where she got her peculiar ideas about the jobs she will and will not consider.
When I was 16, I worked at Thom McAn Shoes at the Monroeville Mall. Selling shoes was hard work. You’d have these gaggles of ancient women with very scary feet who would come in, try on every shoe in the store and not buy anything. You’d have families with very uncooperative children who all needed shoes.
When the series “Married With Children” made its debut in 1989, I empathized with Al Bundy more than you know.
Working at the shoe store wasn’t sexy, but it gave me work experience and taught me work ethic, salesmanship, patience and organization. I learned to breathe through my mouth when I was removing men’s shoes. I worked the job because I knew what I wanted (to drive and to go on a trip to England my senior year), and I did what it took to get there, no matter how many little old lady bunions I tried stuffing into shoes.
Our daughter does not want a job in food service unless they let her work the register. Most food service places start you as a fry cook if you’re 16, and you have to spend two years working your way up to cashier. She wants to be a babysitter and is really good at it, but she is too shy to self-promote.
I helped her draft a resume and showed her how to fill out a job application, which is a skill I think she should have before she turns 18. I was very surprised to learn that she didn’t know her own social security number. We’re changing that.
We suggested she take copies of her resume and walk up and down South Braddock Avenue, introducing herself and asking for job applications. “Oh my God!” she wailed in horror. Perhaps she thinks companies randomly call the house saying, “Hello, we have a job available and were wondering if anyone at your house needs it.”
When her brother, grandmother and I were at the Edgewood Giant Eagle, we did see a job posted that would be perfect for her: Cheesemonger.
The girl loves cheese. I have never seen anyone as crazy about cheese as she is, and we don’t even know why. The three of us laughed, realizing how perfect for her it would be. I texted her the photo of the job posting. Her response? “Ew, no.” Apparently she thought the job title would get her teased.
“But you get to work with cheese the whole time! You love cheese!”
She said she’d be upset to have to handle cheese she couldn’t eat or some kinds of cheese that were stinky. We suggested she try GameStop, because she likes video games and is knowledgeable about them. But she was afraid of being ogled by gamer geeks all day.
My son needed a new dress shirt for his eighth grade graduation, so I took him to our favorite consignment store. As he was trying on shirts, I overheard two stock girls complaining about a third girl who had quit with no notice.
“Excuse me,” I said, “Did I just overhear that you have an opening?”
The next day, I was proud as my daughter walked into the store all by herself, talked to the manager and handed over her resume and completed application. I hope they call her back, but if they don’t, at least we’ve gotten as far as her approaching and asking for the job on her own. These are skills she needs; more importantly, she needs to take responsibility for herself.
If they don’t call back, though, we’ll keep suggesting the Cheesemonger job.
One could certainly do worse at 16. At least there aren’t any bunions on cheese.