Big 50 Volume 8: My First Job

Ok so do I talk about my first EVER job, or do I talk about the first job I had when I left school?

Let’s talk about both!

When I was 12, I got a sneaky job as a “tea and tidy” at a local hair salon.  Sneaky because even back then, employers weren’t supposed to hire anyone under 13.  But I was super keen and they liked me, plus I looked older than 12, so they let me start work a few months before my birthday.  This is me when I was just past my 12th birthday:


Where did those long legs go?  How did I get so brown?  My mother did Hobbytex (you can see a bit on a picture to the right of my head)  And look at that old television.  Oh God, VINYL!  And not ironic hipster retro vinyl.

A “tea and tidy” basically does that – makes tea and tidies up.  I also learnt how to mix hair colour and perming solution, and wash people’s hair.  They used to give me all the old ladies to practice hair washing on.  I quite enjoyed it and loved the bit of pocket money it gave me.  I used to spend it on records (yes, vinyl, shut up) and music magazines.  Countdown magazine was my favourite.  Shut up, I’m old ok??

I worked through most of my teens in part time jobs.  Babysitting, at a florist running deliveries all over town and doing prep work  (why did I lose the skill of tying amazing ribbon formations?), doing typing for people, cleaning, selling Avon, in a cafe, even as a telex operator in a factory office.  SHUT UP, I SAID I WAS OLD OKAY??!!

Once I left school I got a temporary role in a book bindery.  Mostly making tags, tickets and notepad kind of things for the local meat works, who were the biggest customers.  Then I went on to work in a surplus store, in the army disposal section.  I loved army disposal, I hated that fucking job.  I worked for this awful, awful woman who hated me and made me clean the whole massive store, including everyone else’s departments, while she and the other two women watched me over coffee.  I would have to run down from the back of the store whenever someone came into my section and serve them, and then run back to wherever I was cleaning.

I told her where to shove that job eventually (and she asked me if I’d recommend a younger friend who would work really hard – like hell!) and ended up as a live-in nanny for friends of mine.  Whenever they were at work/uni I cared for the two boys and was with them for quite a while.

I did some youth work for a bit, mostly with homeless kids.  It burned me out pretty quick, so I worked behind bars for a bit.  Pouring beers and mixing drinks was very relaxing after social services.  Sometimes I waited tables but I hated that.

I then went on to work for a radio station, in the advertising department, both selling advertising and writing and recording it.  It was a country music station during the peak of Billy Ray Cyrus “Achy Breaky Heart”.  Needless to say my office was the only room in the building that had the ceiling speakers disconnected.

I had a music store for a few years.  Loved being in that environment, HATED not having a life.  Small business ownership sucks.

Then back to a myriad of things from child care to working in a book store, in another music store, a bit more bar work, a bit more youth work, and then I was unemployed for a couple of years while dealing with a rather massive depressive episode.

Then one day I got work experience in a library through a compulsory Centrelink programme.  They loved me so much, they kept me for a second week.  Then the head librarian faxed head office my CV every Friday for 8 months until they finally gave me an interview for their casual pool.  I got the job, worked for 3 weeks casual, got a temporary role, then another, then another, then an early incarnation of my current role (9 years ago)… and have never looked back!

Well, so much about being about my first job… this post is about almost all of them!

What was your first job?


November 9, 2010. Big 50, work.


  1. mimbles replied:

    My first job was babysitting when I was 14 and living in Boulder Colorado. There was this course you could do to get a “can be relied on not to break your kid” certificate. And then complete strangers would ring up and get me to look after their kids. And give me money. It was awesome. I bought lots of albums, on tape because anything I bought was going to have to get carted back to Australia – we were only there for 6 months.

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