My First Job

My family consisted of 10 kids. It wasn't easy for my parents to offer allowances. But, they did whenever they could. So, I would take out trash or rake leaves or things like that to earn my 25 cents a week. Does that count as a first job?

Or, I suppose my first job could've been babysitting 8 of my younger siblings. I can't remember if it really happened because my parents rarely went out for an evening. But, there must have been at least one time that I babysat someone in my family.

I also babysat the kids of a local neighbor when we lived on Lincoln Street Extension in Natick, Massachusetts. It's amazing that I can't even remember the name of the family but I do remember that I was about 13 years old and had a mad crush on the kids' mother who hired me. I would do anything to get another babysitting job just so I could be in her house. She worked for the police department which should've tipped me off that I never had a chance with her.

And then there's the Norman Rockwell bicycle paper route. I used to get up every day to deliver about 100 newspapers to several neighborhoods within about a 3 mile area. I loved it but hated Sundays. Before delivering the papers I'd assemble several sections into the one paper and Sundays meant a lot more advertising which made the papers a lot heavier.

I suppose delivering newspapers would be the first job for a lot of young boys back then. But, if I was to describe my first real job that withheld taxes and put me on a real payroll I'd have to say it was at the US Army Natick Laboratories. The Labs happened to be based in my home town and is still there today. It is considered one of the most sophsticated military research facilities in the world. I got a summer job there when I was 16 years old.

It was the weirdest thing you could imagine. I worked with white rats. I wish I didn't like animals so much because for about 3 weeks (It's all I could stand) my job was to check a schedule board, select the rat whose number was up, bring it over to a sort of clinical guillatine, put its head under the blade and cut it off.

I'd have to move the body over a sink to drain the blood as it pumped out of its neck. About every 30 or 40 minutes it was time for the next victim. I have no idea why they needed white rats without heads for their research. I just followed orders and got paid.

I do know I was extrenely naive at the time and although the job was real, I was duped by older workers while there. I was so willing to do anything people asked of me that I never questioned their motives. While sitting at lunch one day I remember someone coming up to me and told me to go to another building to see a guy named Jim. I was to ask him for a bucket of steam. You can see it coming can't you? I was so completely obedient I never bothered to think about what it was that I was asking for. It was more important that I ask for it no matter what.

In retrospect I can see them all laughing and telling me they didn't have one but to go back and ask if they know where to find a sky hook. This went on 4 or 5 times as I was sent from one building to another. I don't hold anything against them because if I was in their shoes I'd be doing the same thing. It really must've been hilarious at my expense. When it comes to mind I have fond memories about it rather than bitterness. It really is funny. I suppose we were all naive to some degree at various time in our lives.

So, that would be my story about my first real job. I was a rat decapitator who didn't know where to get a bucket of steam or a sky hook. My destiny was all mapped out in front of me.    

9-11 Reflections
My First Job


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