Work in My Lifeby Phil Visnansky, Phoenix, AZI remember it like it was yesterday. I was getting ready for work, looking for my nametag, when the phone rang."Yankee's Third-Base Line," I answered while trying to put on my work shoes.I heard Chris's questioning voice on the other end. "Uh, Phil? It's Chris.""Hey, Chris. Hurry up. I have to get to work," I said, finding my nametag and driving its pin up my finger."I was going to see if you wanted to see the hockey game tonight. I guess you can't.""I can't. I have to work."The image of a Ford convertible, filled with my laughing friends as they drove past Wendy's, filled my mind's eye. They were going to see a movie. They would come back smelling like butter and popcorn, while I, coming from work, would reek of grease, hamburgers and fries. The rest of my childhood now flashed before me. Was this how it was going to be? Was I going to work while all my friends had fun?This was not the first time work has gotten in the way of fun, nor is it the moment that sticks in my mind the most. That time would be when my friend Joel, my brother and others went skiing. I was supposed to go too, but my dad was a little late telling me about it. Because of that, I could not get the days off work.Instead of anger, disappointment walked over my soul. We had been going skiing for the past six years and not being able to go this time, or hear the wind in the trees or feel snow sting my face, was a landmark in my life: it showed me my life is changing.Before I had a job, if a friend called or my dad wanted to spend the weekend in Flagstaff, we would just go - like a rich man with no worries. Now with work, I am stuck at Wendy's unless I plan in advance. While I am at work (and my dad is in Flagstaff), I stand at the counter, doing my duties, staring blankly at the buns in the warmer and asking myself, "Why do businesses have to be open on the weekend?"When I miss doing things with my friends, I often find myself asking "Should I be working?" I am only 16, not 29. I can see myself stuck behind a desk for the next 50 or 60 years. Should I be working now, or having fun?Another question I obsess about is: "Is my paycheck enough remuneration for the time I miss having fun?" At first, I would say yes. I know I do. But when one really scrutinizes it, it is not an easy question. With a paycheck, I learn responsibility, how to manage money and have money to do things. In other words, having a job has not been fruitless. The price I pay is that I hardly ever have fun with my friends. As I said, the answer is not easy.I guess there is no turning back. Once my eyes saw my first paycheck and I felt what it was like to have money in my hands, my thoughts on life changed. A year ago, when I had no money and could hardly do a thing, everything was fine because I knew that was how it was; I couldn't change that, short of some windfall (like winning the lottery). But now, after I have had money, it is an integral part of my life. With money, I feel I can move mountains. Unless the end of the rainbow appears at my house, I will have to tolerate work while my friends relax at a movie. c
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.