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My first job: Hauling hay

We've been doing a series this week about first jobs. So far, we've heard about working in a women's clothing store and at an amusement park, and about time as a census worker and a shift that lasted only four hours. These are stories about what it's like to walk into that new office, or in some cases, that new barn.

Ken Lenox is a cattle rancher in Rolla, Mo., whose first paid job was hauling hay. 

"If we hauled a thousand bales in a day, we got $2.50," he said. "What the job taught me was possibly the value of money and how hard it was to earn it, and you didn't spend it foolishly."

What was your first job? What did you learn? Comment below, on our Facebook page or tweet us @MarketplaceAPM with #MyFirstJob.

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This topic inspired me to create a website where people can share their inspiring job stories, not just their first jobs but the ones which made a difference in their lives. In today's times where so many people are looking for jobs these stories, I feel, will help motivate these people as well as the ones who are making a career change. This site will help your story become a case study for everyone to get inspired or motivated.

Please do share your stories at www.yourjobstory.com. Thank you for visiting.

My first job was in a candy factory in my home town, during the summer between high school and college. I joined the line of older ladies in hair nets whose job it was to take the candy off the conveyor belt and box it up - yes, it was exactly like the "I Love Lucy" episode but nothing else about the job was quite so glamorous. The tedium quickly set in as I learned how tired and drab all my co-worker's lives were, by their own admission too. Nothing it seemed could spark up the long days at that infernal belt, with the pastel-colored candies endlessly parading by. One employee is branded into my memory - Pearl was her name. Pearl was probably the oldest person there, as I look back she must have been over 70. I'll never forget how she would gaze off into the distance every day and repeat under her breath..."I'm somewhere far away, I'm somewhere far away." Bill, the candy chef, sometimes asked me to help him in the kitchen. We'd put on big asbestos gloves and each hold the handle of a giant vat of hot peanut brittle, and pour it onto a metal cooling table. Once that summer Bill told me that he couldn't keep up the job much longer because he just wasn't strong enough any more, but that his wife was in poor health so he had to keep working. People didn't use the word disabled or talk in specifics back then, it was just poor health. Bill must have been in his late 60's - he wore an undershirt to stay cool in the blazing hot kitchen and his upper arms were old, flabby and wrinkled. The worst days were when the owner came to the factory. He was what we now call a rage-aholic and would shout and scream at the employees from the minute he came in the door until the minute he left. He tried to teach me how to hand-dip the chocolate-covered cherries one day when the regular woman was out sick. He was so disgusted that I couldn't master the skill in five minutes his face contorted with rage and he yelled at me to get back to the line. I hung in there all summer because Dad wouldn't let me quit - he said it was good that I was learning why college was important. I was too young to really understand everything those people were going through but I know the job shaped my views on life, labor and the marketplace. And I've never forgotten Pearl and Bill.

My first job was in a movie theatre and I got 50 cents an hour . I was 16 and loved it because I got all the free popcorn and drinks I wanted as long as I used my own cup, and free movies too. I only worked there for a week when my parents found me another job for $3 an hour. They made me take it because it was more money, even though I didn't want to. It was only for 2 weeks covering vacation in a hearing aid dept in a large dept. store. All I had to do they said, was answer the phone, tell patients to call back in 2 weeks and sell hearing aid batteries if someone came in. In a rare emergency, someone might come in with a hearing aid that was broken. In that case, they showed me once, how to take a hearing aid apart, replace something in it , and put it back together again. I was terrified about it but they assured me it hardly ever happens. It happened. Terrified I took it to the back, took it apart, replaced a part, and reassembled it. It worked and I was so proud of myself. It gave me just the confidence I needed to tackle future job requests. I hated that job though. It was very boring sitting there listening to elevator music all day. No i tunes back then.

When you first asked listeners about their first job, I couldn't think of what, in my case, that might be... but Ken reminded me of what, probably, qualifies as mine: buckin' bales and cleaning hog pens on my uncle's farm in Iowa at the tender age of 12.
The work was dusty, sweaty, dirty, hot and physically exhausting and yet, in the fog of my memory, strangely rewarding.

And Ken is right that hard-earned money isn't squandered.
I pinched each of those labor-intensive pennies until Abe squealed as loud as the pigs whose sties I displaced them from with that dusty shovel.

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