First Jobs

One of the most frustrating things about being a social worker or a career counselor is when the tools you have available to help clients don’t work. Card sorts and interest inventories expose clients to the types of careers that are out there, but they tend to confuse rather than help when a client such as a college student has very little job experience.

Even a first job experience can help a person figure out what they like or don’t like. My first job besides babysitting neighbors’ kids and a younger sibling was taking care of a neighbor’s house. He and his wife had eventually passed away from lung cancer, and their property was up for sale. I didn’t get to use the riding lawnmower to cut the grass as I was only 14, but I did have the run of the place. This was a wonderful property, behind our family’s house, up on a hill with a built-in pool and an acre lawn that backed up to corn fields.

The house was very sweet with a kitchen and breakfast nook straight out of the fifties where the windows and open cabinets were framed with arches and simple knotted pine carvings. I think the kitchen was painted aqua with chrome trimmed counters. I can’t remember what else was downstairs except for a main room that looked like a lodge. The walls were paneled in knotty pine and there were hardwood floors–the real kind–throughout the house. The downstairs was finished off by a stone fireplace flanked by built-in bookshelves. I loved this house, even with its bowed wood floors upstairs and would love to move it to CA if I could.

The terraced gardens, lawn and pool were my neighbors’ pride and joy. Long after my neighbors had departed, I puttered around their gardens, cutting the lawn, pulling weeds, but staying away from the pool where I had almost drowned twice as a child, fooling around. (Didn’t learn the first time around, I guess.) It is interesting how the first memories of shock stay with you. It is like you are looking out of the wrong end of a telescope or binoculars. Everyone is so far away.

People, realtors and prospective buyers, came to look at the house. The estate lawyer came to visit from time to time. But I remember liking the solitude of this job best. I guess I should have known. Writing gives me the same sense of solitude and relief  as my first job did, especially if the words come easily…


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