Young people and first jobs

When your children start earning it changes the dynamics at home.

Close up of a barista finishing off a cappucino


Two of my children are earning and they are comparing notes. One started work as a barista this week – to be fair, she has worked in the past at the local pub, but went travelling and came back to Covid and then tonsillitis so has been out of circulation for a while. The move into coffee making is, she assures me, a step up from the pub, mainly because the hourly rate is considerably higher. The pub had the advantage of being five minutes walk from our house, but the barista job is in a chain and she feels she could get a job almost anywhere in the world if she needed to. An added bonus is that she gets to take home some of the food that is past its sell-by date. Yesterday a tuna sandwich for her mum.

Plus it’s in daylight hours. Daughter three works in a fast food place at some distance and her shifts sometimes don’t end at the time they are supposed to. Cleaning up after the shift can be endless. Her manager seems to be very keen on sweeping. I have watched through the window as they re-sweep and re-mop the same bit of floor many, many times. Sometimes I have waited for her for an hour past her finishing time by which time it is very dark and deserted in the area where the restaurant is located.

The good news about them both working is that they can pay for stuff and, theoretically, save for university. The bad news is that university is looming soon and they will be skint and needing top-ups very shortly. On the other hand, they reckon they can work their way through university. Daughter three now considers herself to be a bit of a business tycoon. “I’m making bank, mum,” she tells me. She researched the whole thing and went for the employer who offers 16 year olds the highest salary, doing an extensive study of interview strategies. Daughter two takes a more laid back approach and had to be coaxed to apply for the barista job. “I hate coffee,” she announced on her first day. As the hourly rate is so good, though, so she is beginning to like coffee more and more.

Another benefit as a parent is that we can go and watch our children work and see them developing new skills. At home we spend a lot of time trying to get the kids to do the washing up so it is refreshing to see them sweeping, wiping tables down, etc. If they can do it at work, why not at home? Moreover, daughter three is normally very shy and quiet, but she has learned to bark out the order numbers very loudly. I also overheard a group of customers suggest her for employee of the month the other day so her customer service skills are clearly improving. At home she is known for her expertise in what is known as the silent treatment which makes you feel as if you have done something wrong when she is the one not talking to you.

It now remains for only son to start his own online business. I am quietly confident that he is going to be some sort of internet tycoon. I don’t even understand what he says half the time and that has to mean he is very knowledgeable…or I am very out of touch. Both things could be equally true.

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