Once upon a time, the White Spot restaurant in Courtenay wasn’t a White Spot restaurant. When your humble narrator was but a girl of 12, that location was home to Bonanza Family Restaurant. In the summer before ninth grade, I’ll give you one guess as to who worked as a waitress there.

I was primarily the “bun girl,” responsible for ensuring that hot buns were constantly available at Bonanza’s extensive salad bar. Sometimes I also helped slop the various salads, pasta salads, beans – and whatever else needed topping up – into the bowls. Towards the end of that summer, I was even allowed to work the cash register a bit. Did I mention that I was only 12?

Mikuru Asahina Fighting Waitress ver. Figma

Photo: persocomholic on Flickr

One afternoon, just days before school was set to start again, I was carrying a large and heavy tray of dirty dishes into the kitchen area. Someone failed to mark the freshly-mopped floor in the middle of the restaurant with a “Slippery When Wet” sign, and in the blink of an eye I was ass-down on the floor. Every plate and every mug and every glass shattered around me. I was mortified and quit on the spot.

Despite my short tenure at Bonanza Family Restaurant, I managed to save up my earnings that summer for a Sony Discman and a copy of Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple on CD. Though, I wouldn’t work again until the summer after twelfth grade as a “fashion-forward” associate at Northern Reflections in the Driftwood Mall. I shudder at the memory.

What was your first job? And please, feel free to share any particularly mortifying moments in your career history.

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  1. Aw, I’m sure you made and adorable bun girl! 😉

    When I was 12 I was picking berries at the berry farm down the road from my parents’ house. The pay wasn’t bad – by a 12-year-old’s standards – and I got to eat as many berries as I liked out in the sunshine. Actually, that sounds kinda nice right now …

    That was my first paying job. Then babysitting. Then the movie theatre.

    I actually look back on each experience fondly … though, perhaps the memories have been tinted a little with nostalgia and age.

  2. I was a “Leisure Friend” at 14. Basically you partnered up with a mentally/physically disabled teen, and help integrate them with the other kids at summer camp programs. I was paired with a 6 ft tall fella who I had to shadow all the time. I even had to take him to public washrooms, go into the stall with him, and make sure he sat down and didn’t make a mess. And at first glance, it didn’t look like he was “different” so I would face the shocked glares from ladies as I led him into the womens washroom. I think back on it and am shocked that they put me in that awkward position. I mean, I was just 14. But then, there were rarely any male volunteers who wanted to help with the disabled.

    Anyway, there were a few of us who were “Leisure Friends”. My friend was partnered up with a fella who was autistic and would sometimes get violent and hit others, or himself. And he would also sproadically just burst and run off. One of our trips were to Stanley Park. And that day “21 Jump Street” (many of you may be too young to remember that show) was filing, and Johnny Depp was there. So all the teen girls in the Camp, plus my friend ran off to get a closer look. And at that moment, my friend’s fella decided to run. So there he is bolting down the field at Stanley Park, and I’m standing with my guy, panicking! Luckily my fella tended to be lax, so I got someone to stand by him and bolted after my friend’s fella. OK, I’m 5’2″. And here I am trying to catch up to another 6′ tall fella who is running like some gazelle in a jungle running away from the lions. That freaking’ Johnny Depp and his timing 😆

  3. My first job was at 17 working at a Plant nursery. As I was the first one hired, I ended up being the ‘boss’ to women in their forties. It didn’t quite feel right. One of my jobs was to make sure there was fresh coffee for the hard working landscape crew and one time I put the water in and no coffee grounds…needless to say this was my mortifying moment.

  4. My first job was a golf caddy, and I was 13. No memorable or noteworthy stories on that one. But later in life at my first “real” job (tech support, so I put real in quotes) I kind of sort of accidentally told a customer, over the phone, to shove a candy cane up his you-know-what. I thought the phone was on mute. It wasn’t. I kind of talked my way out of it by pretending I couldn’t hear him for a minute, and then saying “wow I think the lines just got crossed, I heard something really weird”. I don’t think he bought it, but I didn’t get fired.

  5. My first job was at a grocery store. Grade 11 and 12 i was working 40hrs and going to school too. was a shy little bugger, the deli girls would always try and get me to talk more and more. Then again, Im still shy, just not as shy.

    used to help my buddy deliver the paper throughout elementry school and highschool.. though that ended when we were being followed by a van one morning delivering for the Province.

  6. Outside of getting paid to do some work at my mom’s office, my first job was at 16 working at a little drug store in a strip mall in the post office area. It would be the first of many drug store/post office experiences into my 20s that facilitated an unhealthy addiction to anything you can by at Shoppers Drug Mart.

  7. At 14 I was an “Ice-Cream Jockey” as my then boss put it. I got a re-occurring wrist sprain as a result of scooping hard ice cream for hours on end. Since I draw and paint this has been such a bad thing for me because now I cramp up after only a few minutes of drawing…it TOTALLY wasn’t worth the $8 per hour.

  8. My first job was back in grade 11 working in a local computer store in White Rock. Basically working for a few hours after school each day and 6-8 hours on Sat. My boss was quite nice and I certainly learned a few thing from him. When I quit the job to head to university he handed me an extra 5 hours worth of pay and told me to buy something to decorate my university dorm room. :)

  9. My first job was at a fruit stand. I bagged fruits & vegetables for 2 summers when I was 14 & 15. But the most cringe-worthy story I have was from working as a waitress at the tea service at the Chateau Lake Louise. I was brand new and hadn’t quite figured out the whole balancing-several-drinks-on-a-tray-at-once act yet. So I dumped an entire trayful of martinis onto a woman’s lap. A very posh woman wearing very posh white pants. Can you say mortified?

  10. Grade 11. An unnamed local restaurant. I dropped 6 orders of fettuccine alfredo on the floor. The cook made me carry one of those huge trays on my shoulder. I was too weak. The carpet at the restaurant was dark green. I also quit, the next day. I told them I was moving to Kamloops…. LOL.

  11. I worked at small tall treats in Chemainus.

    I got “let-go” for mopping the floor in bare feet.

    The had asked me to do it in my socks… but I didn’t want to go home with soggy socks.

    yes – bare feet was a bad idea in a place that serves food.
    but… SOCKS? isn’t that still really horrid???

    new owners now – place still serves amazingly large ice-cream-cones..

    and it still smells the same way.

    (is it the soggy socks?)

  12. My first job was working in the church book room. We moved to Kingston and my dad became the Dean of the cathedral so he thought I could get “into” the church community by helping out the book room ladies. It wasn’t an easy job because I couldn’t remember the hundreds of genres of books and the difference between them all so I turned out to be pretty useless at customer service. But man I stacked books like a boss.

  13. Pumping gas at a gas station on the busy highway 401 in Ontario. I screwed up a credit card receipt (forgot to slide the handle across to get the impression from the card) for $12.00 – so I owed them the money. They couldn’t take it off my pay for some reason? The next day I worked they made me vacuum this huge parking lot with this big gas powered vacuum. I finished and they told me I’d missed some spots and to do it again. After I finished the 2nd time they told me to do it again – I said I needed to get something from my car and went to it and got in, drove away and never went back. I’ll never forget the way that.

  14. My first job where I got a paycheck for I think 25.00 bucks was the time I dressed up as an Easter Bunny for Hot Chocolates…I will never forget this….my boss looks at me dead in the eye and says this…Lauren, just so you know, the Easter bunny has NO gender, you are to shake your head when asked if you are a boy bunny or girl…I ended up landing a job outside of the bunny suit and if memory serves me right, I think I worked there for three years…

  15. I had my first taste of office life when I was 13 and my dad would take me to the office with him in the summer. I color-coded the paperclips, made photocopies, and doodled a LOT on these graph-paper pads he always had laying around. My first “real” job was when I was 17 – it was at the Cheesecake Cafe and I was a hostess (with the mostest, natch).

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