TWO SUMMERS AGO I worked as a cashier/candy salesman for Alaska Wildberry Products. It was my first real job, as in one where I had to apply and was subject to regulations. I applied to work there because my best friend worked there, not because I’m especially into jam.
My first interview was bizarre to say the least. I had the good fortune of catching the hiring manager while she was in office, so I was taken into an interview right away. It went as I had imagined for the first few minutes, but then the owner stopped by and, weirdly, asked me a question along the lines of: "Was Jimmy Carter a good president?" Not having been alive during his presidency, I said all that came to mind - a snippet about the Iranian Hostage Crisis and espoused my voting philosophy that I shouldn't vote until I'm independent - both mentally and economically. I guess they were impressed with what they heard, because I was trained that day. Later, my friend told me that the owner had talked about "the kid who lectured me on politics" in the days following.
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The job itself wasn't too interesting and I soon found myself wishing that it could be more like the interview - and I could still get paid to have conversations with people. My job entailed cashier duty, restocking the floor and serving candy. Soon after I began working, the novelty wore off and I started to feel like an Epsilon from Brave New World. Those 8-hour shifts felt like they lasted 16-hours and it seemed like I was getting paid half-time. I welcomed the onset of school because it meant I didn't have to walk into a building that smelled of chocolate every morning.
Even so, I learned a lot during those three months. I learned that I never wanted to work a job like that again, because my mind goes stir crazy. But more importantly, I learned that nobody will care as much about your business as you do. The owner dealt with this every day. People stole from the store, while some employees even stole from the register. They thought they were stealing from a faceless, multi-million dollar enterprise, but in reality they were stealing from one man. That summer I learned that you can only put faith in yourself when it comes to business, and that Jimmy Carter still has the ability to impact the unemployment rate.