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When I got my first job, I was so excited. I had gone to a job fair as part of a school trip. The job fair was at the local university, so it was a chance for us to visit the college and attend the job fair. I remember collecting a ton of brochures, job applications, free stuff and walking around with friends.
I found a few summer jobs that interested me so I filled out the applications and mailed them out. I was surprised to get a call for an interview too. In school, we had learned how to write a resume, job interview tips, how to dress and what to do following the interview.
I ended up getting that job as a “camp aide.” I would work at the city camp ground during the summer. The camp was actually about two hours away, so I would stay there all week and come home for the weekends. The job included free room and board with meals included. It sounded exciting to a naive high school student such as myself.
Looking back, the pay was really low compared to the number of hours a day we worked. I was assigned to the kitchen. We worked from 6am until at least 8pm or 9pm. As a kitchen worker, we served breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes an evening social. There was evening food prep, cleaning the dining hall, washing the dishes and making sure everything was ready for morning.
I despised delivery days. That was when a truck load of food would be delivered. It meant back breaking work of moving or carry boxes to their place in the kitchen. We had to organize everything on delivery days.
My birthday happened to fall during the time I was working at the camp. Another camp worker happened to have a birthday the day before mine and the kitchen manager made a cake for him. When my birthday came the next day, guess what I got?
That’s right, nothing.
The kitchen manager always yelled at the kitchen staff. We learned to just go with it. She ran a very tight ship. There were times when people came to work late and she would yell at them. Or they didn’t do their job correctly and she yelled at them.
One morning, I slept through my little alarm. I don’t even think my alarm went off. Anyway, a fellow kitchen employee woke me up. It was about 6:15am. I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes and headed in. I am pretty sure I was just so exhausted from working 15 hour days 5 days a week. I don’t even think the kitchen manager noticed I was late.
I called my mom a few times begging to let me come home. The only phone was in the kithen, so I have a feeling she had overheard my conversations with my mom. I cried each time I talked to my mom. My parents wouldn’t let me quit though.
Eventually, people started quitting left and right. They had to bring in former camp workers, friends and family of current camp workers just to help out.
Finally, word got back to the camp manager about the kitchen manager.
One day, he had a camp employee take her out and away from camp for the day. Word was that the camp manager was going to allow us to relax and celebrate. He barbequed, we had loud music and we were able to laugh and have a great time.
It was the loneliest summer for me. I was away from home, my family and my friends. Not only that, fellow camp workers weren’t too nice to me.
I was so young back then. It was my first job, so I didn’t know better. Knowing what I know now, I would have gotten myself fired, just to get myself out of that situation. Or I would have went straight to the Camp Manager with what we had to go through. These days, with camera phones, GoPro cameras, and other mobile devices I would have recorded everything.
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