I’ve been a door-to-door salesman for a national telephone company, sold toy soldiers to teenagers, taught our nation’s children to read and write, tutored frantic HSC students and literally dug ditches.
The first job I ever applied for was at KFC while I was still at high school. It might have still been called Kentucky Fried Chicken, back then. All my friends worked there, and to get the job all you had to do was ask and fill in a form. I remember sitting in the white tiled broom cupboard that passed for their office watching some terrible introductory video. It was the first job I applied for, but not my first job. I never worked a shift. I lived on a farm throughout my teenage years, some 20+ kilometres from town. We only had one car, and I didn’t have my license anyway. Perhaps I was giddy on the thought of all the millions I would make frying chicken, and did not think it all through…
The first job I actually worked was digging ditches. And repairing fences, and planting trees and (at one point) building a toilet at a public rest stop. It was 1995, I had deferred university for a year, some band called Silver Chair was on the radio, and I was in need of work. LEAP – Landcare Environment Action Program – was a joint initiative between Landcare and Centrelink, a precursor to what would later become “work for the dole”, though I found out about it through an ad in the paper and actually applied to be involved. I could have just stayed at home and brought in the big, fat Centrelink cheques, but I wouldn’t have had so much fun.
There was a dozen or so participants all about my age, and for a year we worked long days on a variety of environmental projects from reducing erosion, desalination, replanting fields with trees, and a host of other activities. It was hard work at times, but also lots of fun. We also enjoyed bushwalks, went on a “working holiday” together, and had a friendly rivalry with a second LEAP group that began not long after us. The highlight of the year was building a mud brick toilet at a local national park. All we began with was a hole in the ground – everything else we did ourselves, by hand, from making the bricks to fashioning a toilet and the paper roll holder. Looking back it was an incredible achievement for a bunch of teenagers with minimal experience. Sometimes I think about going on a road trip to see if the thing is still standing.
I made good friends, learnt new skills, and at the end of each day I would come home tired, filthy and pretty damn content. I’ve not worked another “labour” job like that, and sometimes I kind of long for the simplicity of going out and digging holes.
Today I am linking up with My Home Truths‘ “I Must Confess”.
I sometimes wonder how my boys would ever cope with doing hard, physical labour like that. Then again, I wouldn’t cope either. Ahem.
I think the work for the dole thing is a great idea, though.
Sounds like hard work Nathan…thank goodness you stayed away from KFC, that stuff is not good for your health!
It would be cool to see your toilet block again!
I really hope my boys get the chance to go out and get their hands dirty and dig holes, maybe at their grandparents farm, very character building I reckon! 🙂
I hated fencing and other labour-type jobs on our farm, but really enjoyed the work with LEAP. It’s funny what getting paid does for your enthusiasm!
I have to ask this – did you ever come home and say “I dug another hole Dad” ala The Castle?
Seriously, good on you for doing something useful during your gap year and thanks again for linking up to I Must Confess!
So interesting to read. What I’m getting from all these first job posts is that first jobs really shape who we are and what we become…
Yep. My first job made me really dirty… No, hang on, that’s not right! 🙂
Hey, I remember when it was called Kentucky Fried Chicken too … but I never worked there. My first job was checkout chick in a local supermarket with the oldest, most archaic tills imaginable and I’m thrilled that my 15 yr old has followed this path too (ahhh, but with newer equipment!) You never forget a first job, do you?!!