I had my first job at the age of 8. My mother owned a little shop in a strip mall, where she sold everything from clothes and accessories to hair weave and home decor. It was called Victory Shop, inspired by my own middle name, Victoria.
I usually helped out after school. I knew how to work the cash register and was excellent at counting money, but my mom mostly handled that. My job was to watch the customers to make sure no one stole anything.
One day, my mom left me in charge. She needed to walk two stores down to the neighboring fish market to order us dinner. A couple of minutes after she left, a group of teenagers came in.
"How can I help you?" I asked in my best grown-up voice. Finally, my chance to show my mom I was responsible.
I can't remember now how many kids there were. Maybe three or four? They wandered to the glass display case I stood behind -- I could barely see over the top. They wanted to get a closer look at the selection of gold caps we had. I don't keep up with the fashion trends of grills, but back then, some of the caps had cutout shapes in them: a star or a cross, for example.
The teenagers pored over our offerings. One kid made his choice and moved toward the cash register. Another girl, though, asked me, "Can I have this one?" She was holding another gold cap, protected by a plastic case, that had a simple butterfly in it.
Me, a mature almost-9-year-old, I said yes; I thought she meant, could she buy that one.
I rung up the first customer, took his money and gave him his correct change back. I made sure to give him his receipt, too, just as I had watched my mom do so many times. To my surprise, though, the girl did not step up to the register to pay for her selection. Instead, the group walked out, laughing. I just stared after them.
"Ooh, [insert name of girl here], you're wrong for that," one of her friends said as the door closed softly behind them.
Needless to say, my mom was a little upset when she returned.
Since then, I've become a much better employee. My mom closed her shop a few years later, but I got to hone my worker bee skills in a handful of different places until I graduated college. In 2006, I applied for and attained a part-time copy-editing job at Creative Loafing, the weekly alternative newspaper in Charlotte, North Carolina. Fast-forward to 2015, and I've now been donning the hat of editor in chief for two years now.
Yesterday, though, I put in my notice of resignation.
After having worked for several bosses throughout my short 30-some years, I've decided to freelance. It's a scary and exhilirating move for someone who's lived to please an employer since she was 8. But it's time.