On Finding a Job This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I was 16, and suddenly school had come to an end. The weather was amazing every day, and each night was like Friday, meaning the later I could stay out, the better. I took full advantage, attending every new movie and buying out the mall until I discovered I was completely, 100 percent broke.

This realization was devastating. I could not continue my way of life and had to face the hard, cold truth: I needed a job. I figured it didn't have to be utterly unbearable, since with the proper effort there is always a way to make even the most awful situations great. So I talked my best friend into applying for jobs with me. She, a year younger and not as monetarily depleted, was reluctant, but after a long conversation about the many "cute" places to work, I convinced her.

Our search for the cute jobs went on for two weeks. By the middle of June, we had applied at a bakery, two coffee shops, and a snack bar. As a back up, I applied to the local grocery market, and my friend to a pool equipment store. Time passed and we heard from none of the cute places. Only the market called to hire me, and they wanted an interview as soon as possible.

This was not my dream job, but I decided it was better than nothing. My poor friend ended up working at the pool store, and for the rest of the summer smelled faintly of chlorine. At least we could suffer together.

I put on a fake smile and went for the interview, where I met my boss, Donna. She was nice enough, and orientated me as a bagger. I had to watch extremely annoying movies on customer service, and the right and wrong way to bag groceries. It seemed ridiculously simple.

After getting a uniform and being told when to show up for my first shift, I left the market feeling as though this would be an easy way to get the money I needed. My first day on the job completely killed that idea.

To load groceries, I had to be constantly in contact with food, which included fish, odorous vegetables, and my least favorite, meat packages that sometimes dripped blood. And then there was the constant lifting of heavy bags into the carriages. I will forever loathe the creators of the 24-bottle water packages. I was on my feet the whole day. By the time my 15-minute break rolled around, I was sore all over.

And then there was the part of the job I dreaded most: retrieving the carriages from the lot. Had I known this was part of my job, I probably wouldn't have accepted the offer. "Going out on carriages" means searching the dangerous parking lot for grocery carts, stacking them together, and heaving them into the store.

When I first started, it was summer, and the temperature was rarely below 90 degrees. There were several times that I came close to passing out. This part of the job is also interesting in the winter, when we have to suit up in snow pants, face warmers, the works. And I'm not going to lie, lugging a ton of metal carriages around like a body builder made me feel incredibly masculine. I am the kind of girl who usually has a manicure, strives to be in style, and rarely leaves the house without a purse. Standing in the middle of a parking lot in a dark green, oversized polo with sweat dripping down my face was definitely not a high point in my life.

There were some positive aspects to work. I picked up things that were useful for everyday maneuvers, and I made many friends. The other kids working there were really nice, and getting to know some of the fairly good-looking boys didn't hurt, either. I also developed a sense of responsibility, which helped me mature. The weekly checks, though hard-earned, were pretty nice. And for the first time in my life, I had muscles.

For anyone seeking a job, apply everywhere and anywhere, but don't expect to get most of the jobs you apply for. And lastly, from my own experience, if you are anything like me, leave grocery markets as a last resort.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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