Prompt: What did you learn from your first job?

I worked at a movie theater when I was 16. I don’t have many good memories of it, because I don’t have many good memories from my teen years at all. But this prompt wants me to find something that I learned. After 22 years to reflect, I think I have something.

Show up on time to your minimum wage job and work hard. You’ll usually have a job and few problems.

I was nominated for an employee of the month the first month that I was there. I asked the manager why I was nominated. I had thought you needed to do more than clean a theater. He said that I was a good worker and caused no problems. For this reason, I was given more hours than most of the teens there.

“Is that all it takes?” I thought. “Is Woody Allen right about successes and how most of it is just showing up?”

As I got older, I dropped out of college and worked crappy jobs, I realized the importance of just showing up and working. Most workers in these jobs won’t show up and work. They give excuses to not be there, and they try to get out of some of the worst tasks of their shift. They’re often involved in drama, and many of them can’t be trusted. A good worker is hard to find and managers know this. This is not to say that showing up and working hard will make you a manager. Most likely you will be taken advantage of if you work too hard. But I’ve been able to hold on to these types of jobs because others do not have any standards for themselves.

This leads me to the real lesson.

Where did I get this ethic from?

My parents worked constantly when I grew up. This rubbed off. But more importantly, my parents weren’t phonies and showed me that it’s more important to express yourself with actions before words. My first job showed me the importance of a reputation. Your reputation is other people’s perception of who you are. And perception is everything. My mom and dad had a good reputation with me and my brother. They give us what we needed, and they were consistent about it. In turn, I decided to be as dependable as they were.

Show who you are, don’t tell. This is what I learned from my first job and other crappy jobs to follow.

And what did you learn from your first job?

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