Not Your Average First Job

Not Your Average First Job

How working in a retirement home at 16 differed from the jobs occupied by my peers.
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Change can be both a good and a bad thing. As my last day approaches at the first job I ever was employed by, I've been reflecting upon the past year and a half of my life. I came to the realization that this job is going to be something that I will miss, and probably will never find something similar to again. Because my first job was't a teenagers average first job.

Because of my late summer birthday, I was the youngest out of all of my friends and by virtue the last to get a job. But when I finally did receive the "when can you start" phone call, it wasn't from a grocery store or restaurant like most of my peers. It was from one of the local retirement communities. Granted I was going to be working in the dining room so it was a restaurant atmosphere, but the interactions that occurred outside of the kitchen were completely different than in an average restaurant.


Rare is it that I hear the term "customers" used in my workplace. It is always "residents" and we, the dining room employees, are expected to get to know each individual who walks into the dining room and be able to anticipate their needs. To put this into perspective, on an average Sunday, there are in between 150-180 residents who come in for brunch. This doesn't include any guests they may bring, administration, or assisted living residents who don't normally come to the dining room to eat. And if you want to be promoted from Server to Host, you had better believe you are expected to know the name, spouse's name, how many lemons they like in their tea, what section of the dining room they like to sit in, how many grandkids they have and which war they fought in- for every resident. (That's only a slight exaggeration.)

The sentence "I don't get tipped" is a common answer to questions from peers about what my job is like. However, "but I do get a bonus" always follows the shocked look on the questioner's face. This is something that is uncommon among jobs that are (mostly) targeted towards high schoolers.

Working in a retirement home has taught me that constantly being around the elderly is not for everyone. You have to be very patient and tolerant of those who ask you to repeat things multiple times. One must learn how to be gentle and caring, and often very slow. For me, one of the hardest things has been learning who everybody is and tending to their specific needs.

The stories told during meals are not the average stories. I don't often hear the residents talking about current events. There is the occasional political debate or discussion over new technology, but conversations about the past are the most common. In my time working at the retirement home, I have learned more history than I was taught in school, heard more love stories than ABC Family could ever produce and met more grandchildren than Jon and Kate could ever have.

One of the most influential aspects of my job has been the relationships I have formed with the residents. They constantly ask about my home life, promise to come to sports games, give advice about college and ask for updates on anything new. I have become emotionally attached to my job because of the residents, and that isn't something that you can find at just any workplace. Being able to get close with them has made working there easier, and saying goodbye to them will be one of the toughest things I do.

While having a connection with the residents has been an extremely positive aspect, it often leads to heartbreak as well. Death is something that I have had to learn to cope with during my time with the retirement community, and that is by far one of the most distinctive things about my job. Nothing is worse than being told about the passing of a resident before shift starts. I have never been more familiar with losing someone that I care about than I have been in the past year and a half. It has taught me to appreciate every aspect of life and to hold on to those who mean most to me.


For a year and a half I have been around a completely different generation of people. I had to learn how to change the way I spoke and acted, and always have to keep in mind that it is a very conservative, elite society that I am surrounded by. While difficult at first, I found that the way I speak and do things outside of work slowly has changed, and I am a better person because of it. I have grown as a person since I started working there, and have learned so much more about living life to the fullest than I believe I ever would have learned working somewhere else.

So to my first job, thank you. Thank you for being something incomparable and giving me the chance to experience a different lifetime. Thank you for being something I fell in love with, and for surrounding me with a group of the kindest, gentlest, most loving people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. It has been a long ride which unfortunately has to end, but you will be something I cherish, always.

Cover Image Credit: www.usatoday.com

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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To The Best Friend Every Girl Should Be Blessed Enough To Have

You definitely deserve all the love.

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I have not written this letter, but it has been on my list of "to write" for forever. She keeps asking when I will write one about her and every time I tell her, soon.

Well here it is. The truth on why it took so long? No words seem to do everything justice. No matter how I put them or how I want them to sound, the page always makes them look weird and they always sound lame.

But finally, here it is. Best friend, this one is for you.

First and foremost I will start with a holy cow. We have been best friends for only a short time because who knew your "in school friend" from all those math classes would actually turn into this? We put off hanging out outside of school for years, and finally, after suffering through all that algebra we decided enough was enough.

I wish we had sooner.

I wish I had gotten more time with you before we both moved away to college - but ill take whatever time I get with you because well… you're incredible.

Thank you.

Thank you for finally agreeing to hang out with me.

Thank you for listening to every rant ever - whether it was a paragraph long text, a 2 hour FaceTime call or an hour-long car ride.

Thank you for ordering planners with me and spending nights decorating them with me (we are such losers).

Thank you for letting me become a part of your family.

Thank you for going to Friendly's, IHOP and Target at the most ungodly hours.

Thank you for encouraging me in everything I do, and stopping me from making bad decisions.

Thank you for telling me the truth, despite if it hurt me or not, I know now you will never lie about your feelings towards someone (LOL).

Basically, thank you for everything you have done for me. You have made me a better person and you encourage me to be my best self every single day.

Moving on I want to make it clear how incredibly proud of you I am. I love getting texts from you about your love for your classes, and how you want to be president of this club and president of that. How you help out kids, and how you host events. I love hearing about your major and the classes you are so incredibly excited to take. Watching you be so passionate about what you are doing and becoming makes me want to feel the same way in everything I do.

I hope someday my kids are your students because, in your hands, I know they can change the world.

Last but not least, I love you. And you're stuck with me.

Love,

Your forever number one fan

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