Do you want fries with that?
Who doesn’t remember that seminal teenage moment where you announced to your parents that ‘I am an adult now, and shall be earning my own money forthwith!’? Sadly, that moment of glorious independence wore off pretty fast when you realised how little fun it is to get out of bed early on a Saturday morning and then spend your weekend slaving for a couple of quid an hour. Still, money is money, and it meant you could buy important stuff like CD’s, WKD and body glitter…
1. The pound shop
Two types of people blight your life when you work in a pound shop. The type that ask ‘how much is this?’ and then pees themself laughing at their super original joke, and the type that asks ‘how much is this?’ because they’re genuinely asking. It’s hard to know which one is worse, but between the terrible polo shirts, uninspiring products and irritating clientele, a pound shop was not where you wanted to spend your Saturday for a few quid an hour.
2. Garden centre
What a lovely, relaxing place to spend your time, amongst the plants. Only that’s so not the reality. Lugging around massive bags of soil, sweating profusely in the summer and, if you’re really lucky, fancy dress at Christmas. Yep. Writer and blogger Amy Jones told me, ‘I spent October to January wearing an elf costume ordered from a fetish website and selling raffle tickets to old men. My only break was when I had to distract Santa’s waiting crowd so he could go and have a pee against the back wall of the grotto.’ Oh the glamour.
3. Fast food joints. Plural.
Pretty much the archetypal crap teenage job. Your face and skin end up super oily, people talk to you like you’re not a human and the joy of getting free fast food on tap wears off really, really quickly. Then there’s the joy of trying to kick out trouble making teenagers, calm down screaming kids who got the wrong Happy Meal toy and putting up with hearing the super hilarious ‘I guess you could always work at McDonalds if everything goes wrong… Oh no wait!’ constantly.
4. Paper round
Pretty much the only job you can get before you’re sixteen, and after a couple of weeks you know why. Getting up at the arse crack of dawn, being freezing cold and dragging a hundred news papers around with you really isn’t fun. As Chloe Rey, an accountant from London told me. ‘I got paid £4 to deliver 200 free papers, and they didn’t give me a trolley so I carried them in an old pram. Pretty much every day involved getting chased by someone’s dog or screamed at by someone who didn’t want said free paper.’
5. Local shop
When I worked in the local shop the highlight was discovering that before the meat was packaged and sold, it was kept in a big (open) plastic tub in the back room, next to the overflowing ashtray. Lovely. Other highlights involved learning to reheat a pastry so many times that it shrivelled up and trying to convince my friends that no, I really couldn’t sell them bottles of of vodka, because we were 14 and I was an extremely law fearing child.
Best case scenario, babysitting is a doddle. You turn up when the kids are looking all cute and about to go to bed, watch TV and eat someone else’s food. But that’s evenings. Day time babysitting? A whole different story. Suddenly your £5 an hour seems incredibly scant. One child attached to your leg, the other one painting the cat, another trying to stick their fingers in a toaster. On the upside, it did put you off the idea of teenage pregnancy.
7. Selling door to door
Much like delivering papers, selling door to door basically meant harassing people who didn’t want to talk to you and certainly didn’t want to give you any money. Writer and academic Kate Williams told me, ‘I sold hand made sewing machines door to door in Birmingham. They didn’t work. I made 20p from each sale, and I had to knock on every door. Though they did let me off funeral parlours!’
8. Handing out flyers
The joy of standing around the town centre with a pile of paper, looking longingly at the bin. The statement ‘you can go home when you’ve handed them all out’ sounded good to start with, before you realised that literally no-one wants your leaflets. So with your boss’s dire warning about fly-tipping, you end up standing around for eight and a times practically begging people to take one.
What about the best teenage job? Without a doubt (in a pre Netflix era) the video shop. DVDs, toffee popcorn and an insight into what movies every hot guy in the surrounding area liked. Sorted.
What was your worst teenage job? Let us know @MarieClaireUk