Every job I've ever had: part 4.
In last week’s post, I alluded to my favorite job of all time. That’s right. OF ALL TIME. (My apologies to every employer since). See, this one would be impossible to recreate. It came into my life at the perfect moment, a perfect storm of opportunity. I doubt I could hack it now. Oh, the job in question? I worked concessions at the PNC Bank Arts Center, a seasonal concert venue in the middle of suburbia.
Job #6 - Moving up the food chain.
Age at time of employment: 16 to 20
Qualifications: Deep experience, duh. And an intro at an area job fair.
Application process: Paper.
Onboarding: Group meeting.
Training: On site.
Pay rate: Starting $6.75/hour, ending $13-15/hour
I realize that this probably sounds hellish to some people. At the time, Aramark held the contract, so that’s who I worked for, over in the kitchens, “baking” pretzels and serving up baskets of chicken fingers and fries. Sweaty doesn’t even begin to describe it. Pay was $6.75/hour, seemingly well above that $5.15/hour minimum wage. The early shift started at 3 p.m. and ended when the concerts let out at 11 p.m. Young folks ran the show, save for upper management, who mostly left us alone. By the end of my first summer, I pocketed a decent amount of money and made a good impression on my 18-year-old bosses. I managed to climb the ranks quickly, moving over to the portables, where I could make tips for taking the caps off of water and soda bottles. As a teenager, getting to work outside, in the summer, making cold hard cash while live music in the background, this was heaven. Sometimes I got to watch the show. Sometimes there were free tickets to other local events. Did I mention all the cute guys, too? High standards, I tell you.
Once legal, I became a manager, bouncing around the property, between kitchens and portables, overseeing other employees, doing inventory, placing orders and collecting and counting out the money. My pay increased along with my responsibilities, and so did my hours. I fondly remember a week of back to back concerts where I logged something like 103 hours. Gleefully. Tired and dirty, my coworkers and I gathered in the parking lots after work to hang out, perpetuating all the fun I was having. The party finally stopped when the general manager changed for the third time in five years, and I fell out of favor with the organization. By then I was well into college and increasingly enamored with the life I was building there, some 45 minutes away from work. After working almost an entire summer without receiving a promised raise, I had enough and decided it was time to go. So I quit, an hour before gates opened at a sold out Tom Petty show.
Not my finest moment in the end, but overall an employee experience that sticks with me, even today. I learned to hustle, to manage others, to count quickly, to take ownership and responsible and to put in the effort. And boy do I have stories.
Next up: the random gigs that got me through college and finally onto adulthood (sort of).
Image via APP.