Saturday, July 26, 2008

My first job


Charlie and I took a long walk this morning, and stopped and sat on a bench for awhile to take a little rest. We both sniffed the air. Charlie asked, "what's that smell?" and I smiled. Pipe smoke, Amphora Red. Here's how come I knew.

My first job was at Medical Centre Drugs, and I was about 14. I cleaned the shelves (endlessly) in the pharmacy, got rid of expired meds, counted pills (by 4s), and hung out with the pharmacist. I even got to ring stuff in, and OMG I loved that cash register; it was one of the old ones where the buttons stayed down, and to add you used the side of your hand. It was so cool. I learned how to count back change, and balance the till at the end of the day (one time carrying $26,000 in my school bag to the bank to deposit the money). I even got to set up window displays.

Sweeping the sidewalk early on a Saturday morning while other stores around us opened up too made me feel very grown up. This was life.

Mr. Everett, the pharmacist I worked with most (there were two), was semi-retired, and an artist. He was shortish, as I recall, but very dashing. He smoked his pipe (Amphora Red, which I remember because sometimes I'd have to go out and pick it up for him) while we worked, and chatted with the customers. He was neat and kind and had the most beautiful handwriting I'd ever seen. Still to this day I do my 9s like his - curled, rather than a circle on a stick.

I made $2.15 an hour. And even though I enjoyed my next job scooping ice cream more in some ways (too many sick people coming in the door), I think I was pretty lucky with this one.

The photo is of one of Mr. Everett's pastels, a wedding gift from my parents. (There's glass over it; hence the reflection.) It's Lake Muskoka, and if you know the way out to Port Carling from Bracebridge, just past Milford Bay, you probably know this spot.

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