A Sun Dial in the Shade

LizzieLou | employment history,nablopomo | Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

The first real job I had, real as in having my earnings reported to the IRS, was at a five-and-dime store in Cape Cod. My gram lived near there, about seven miles away as the teen-bike-rides, and I stayed with her in the summers of ’86 and ’87. It was sort of a weird thing to do, to go so far away to work for the summer, and I don’t know why I even thought of it. Although one of my cousins was around a little that summer with her parents, I didn’t know anybody. It was one of those life decisions that I made and have no idea what the thought processes were behind it. In retrospect, things seemed to just have happened. Summer came, and away I went.

In ’86 I missed my BFF from high school. I read Beaches and cried. I met a dude one evening when I had ridden my bike down to the beach who talked to me about sunsets and art and I had a revelation that wow, man, it was like talking to myself it was so cool and mystical. I kinda dated a kid named Mike. We smooched a lot. My new friend who lived on the Cape was going out with his friend, who drove a convertable, so our fates were sealed. Oh yeah, wait – I was going to write about working.

The 5&10 was a low rectangle on the top of the main street, actually named “Main Street.” It was always one of my family’s favorite places to go when we were vacationing there. The store was crowded with mechandise, some which may have been there since it opened in the 60’s. It sold greeting cards, housewares, tools, toys, beach items, craft supplies, candy, cigarettes and a boatload of tourist tchotkes. This being my first retail experience, I was surprised at how much things got marked-up. Especially the tourist things. Stupid knick knacks, little wooden lobster traps, coasters, and geegaws would arrive in big boxes from whoknowswhere. I sat on the loading dock, unpacked the boxes, and wrote “CAPE COD” on them with a Sharpie(tm). Hello 1000% mark-up. I was paid in cash at the end of each week. Little manilla minimum wage envelopes of dough. But I was frugal then, and pizza was cheaper, so I did make some money. 
My new friend and I worked there together with another girl our age (who was a little bit of lunatic), two older ladies, a middle aged and slightly pervy manager, and the old guy who owned the place. He always had a smoldering Benson&Hedges hanging from his mouth. His wife would come in regularly to the store and take things. I remember being told by a coworker that if she ever came in and complained that she didn’t feel well I should get her a banana because she had low potassium or something. It never happened.

In ’87 I didn’t miss anyone from high school and couldn’t wait to get back to stay with my gram for another summer. My friends and I were happy to be working together again. There were shenanigans, a lot note writing and goofing off, illicit candy eating, etc. Sadly, the looney girl got fired because of said shenanigans and goofing and went to work for the competition – a clean, well lighted place – down the other end of Main Street. A young lad was hired in her place. He must have been 16, but he seemed about 12 and we treated him that way gave him horrible nick-names. The owner had retired over the previous year and left the running of the store to his daughter who was much more of a hard ass. (With good cause I guess because that pervy manager from the year before had done some questionnable things with their money or something before running off.)

Of course the whole point of going to the Cape for the summer was not about working at all. It was all about driving around with my friend in her dad’s stationwagon, listening to Metallica, having kinda-boyfriends, and whooping out the windows to our friends… a lot of late-night whooping. Amazingly we always made it to work the next morning and never needed a banana.


  1. WHAT?? You listened to METALLICA??

    Comment by eelaine — November 13, 2008 @ 9:48 pm

  2. I know, I know – this must come as a complete shock, especially to you, Eelaine. Remember that time we were driving in your little pick up singing to Metallica and we thought that people in other cars probably saw us and thought we were having a huge fight?

    Comment by LizzieLou — November 14, 2008 @ 12:06 am

  3. What? I don’t…..oh yeah. : ) Santori times.

    Comment by eelaine — November 14, 2008 @ 8:55 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress | Theme by Roy Tanck