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Saturday Jobs

Author: Lauren Coleman


Hope you all had a lovely Easter break. A bit of nostalgia this morning to ease ourselves back into the working work, prompted by mum recently telling me the same woman still runs the salon where my sister had her first Saturday job over twenty years ago. Blimey.

My first Saturday job was in retail. I’d completed two weeks Work Experience in Topshop which to be honest I had found really quite boring as I spent most of the time cleaning mirrors. At the end of the two weeks my supervisor filled in my report. If I remember rightly it was a multiple choice and all was going swimmingly until she got the line that read ‘Relationship with Manager’. She been on training for most of my stint and decided that because she had been around so little while I’d been beavering away with my duster that she wouldn’t be able to give me top marks. I returned back to school and remember everyone flashed their glowing reports. I was devastated.
Anyway despite my red flag on my report card I got a Christmas temp job at Next. If anyone has ever worked at Next during the sale period it was pretty brutal. One woman was enthusiastically looking for her half price shoes and the contents of the shelf came tumbling on my head. I finished my stretch there covered in bruises, vowing to avoid the Next sale forevermore.
A few months later news spread that Gap were opening a couple of stores in Meadowhall. Seemingly the whole of my college turned out for the interview process which I remember being a cringe-worthy group interview where we then got carted off for individual interviews if we met the grade.
A few weeks later I received a contract through the post. I was going to be a Sales Associate at Gap Kids with a probationary pay of £3.60 an hour. I had hit the big time.
While most of my friends were wearing black trousers to their Saturday jobs I donned my Gap bootcut jeans (bought with our 50% discount) and spent at least a quarter of my shift stood at the door welcoming customers and telling them my name. This was fairly novel back then and most people looked utterly bemused at this very American way of customer service. I felt like an idiot. However it soon became clear why you had to give your name to all and sundry as we had pretty high sales targets to hit. Sales are not my forte but somehow I managed to get by and I had a lovely set of regular customers. The highlight of my time there was when David Beckham popped in with a very small Brooklyn to be decked out in Gap’s finest.
I left Gap when I started Uni as I moved to Nottingham. Instead I found myself behind the checkout in Sainsbury’s wearing a Moshino inspired blue shirt adorned with various types of fruit. There was something about wearing the blue square Gap badge on your chest that meant the majority of customers treated you with respect, this was not the same when I was wearing one of your five-a-day. The customers were terribly rude and I’m sure one woman used to pick up obscure vegetables every week just to test if I had the intelligence to put it through the till using the right code. Ever since then I’ve been very polite to checkout staff as the experience has really stayed with me.

I left retail behind after Uni and delved into waitressing before landing a job as a Marketing Assistant which led me into the world of web marketing and then my career took a few twists and turns before I ended up here.

Do you remember your first job? Any nostalgic moments that really stand out? What did you buy with your first pay packet and did you stay in the same industry for the rest of your career?

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21 thoughts on “Saturday Jobs

  1. Lovely post Lauren, but I go back much further than that. My Saturday job was in Sacha Shoes at the height of the platform shoe craze, we would regularly arrive at work to find a queue of several people waiting to buy our crazy designs. Our famous people were the likes of Marie Osmond, Bucks Fizz who had just won Eurovision, which to my dismay, my manager put their song on while I was serving them. I went on to manage the shop when I left school and the things I bought with my first wages £16 a week, was a Jeff Banks jacket and a wool skirt, the skirt alone was £40! Just wish I had kept some of the shoes, they were incredible.

  2. Mine was working in a jewellers. I spent the whole time trying on engagement rings. They ended up needing someone who could do more hours so I left there after 6 months and went to work in the butchery department at the supermarket. The days when they cut the meat and it didn’t get done in a factory. I quite liked it despite never reaching the heady heights of checkouts.
    Worked as a travel guide at University taking kids around the UK. Dream job. Hello 12 weeks of hotel stays. Winner!
    Nothing had anything to do with law. I never expect any of my graduates to have any experience in law when they apply. I like a trainee that’s had their hands dirty from grotty jobs that shows hard graft rather than a Saturday job that they got because Daddy played golf. There is enough nepotism in law as it is….

  3. I was a Sainsbury’s checkout girl too and I hated it! Somehow it was always my fault that there was no bread or eggs. Plus I had to work on a Friday evening which meant missing most of my friends 18th birthdays. Double pay on a Bank Holiday was the only thing that made it worthwhile! I went from there to TK Maxx – also hated it, but mainly because most of the job consisted of making sure people weren’t shoplifting. My favourite Saturday job was actually Claire’s Accessories mainly because you only did four hour shifts and everyone was lovely! I also got to pierce ears, which was slightly terrifying but I have some excellent tales of mishaps and customers because of it!

    1. Were you terrified the first time you had to fire that gun?! The ear piercing I mean. I don’t think I could deal with the pressure!

      1. So terrified that I managed to pierce through the glove and ended up attached to the poor girl’s ear… 🙈 I got better but to be honest I couldn’t get much worse!

  4. My first job (apart from babysitting) was in a cafe when I was 14 which I just hated as their customers on the whole were very rude! I then went onto the checkouts at sainsburys for the rest of my teenage years which on the whole was actually quite fun – most of the customers were really nice.

    My jobs in my teenage years had nothing to do with my career now in terms of field but they taught me so much about the value of money etc that I’m so glad I had them.

    My parents were sticklers for me any my sister having part time jobs as teenagers and now I have kids of my own I understand why. Learning to save (to pay for part of my driving lessons for example, they said they would match what I had saved to pay for the rest when I turned 17) has served me well as a grown up (I might not always manage to save well now but at least I remember the feeling of satisfaction when I did, ha!).

  5. I too worked in Next during the Christmas and New Year sales. It was hideous and I still struggle to go into that shop without getting flashbacks of the punch ups over cut price nylon trouser suits!

    My first job as a 15 year old was as a chamber maid in a local 4* hotel. Coming from a relatively tidy family I couldn’t believe the state some people left their hotel rooms or what people expected chamber maids to pick up. I can’t look at those little jars of breakfast jam/honey without thinking about them smeared all over bedding (given the other Ann Summers type objects we found in the bed, this was not breakfast in bed gone wrong!).

    At Uni I worked on the No7 counter at Boots, having had 10 minutes of training from a very orange colleague, which basically entailed slapping as much make up on as possible. I also worked as a perfume girl, trying to sucker people into buying the latest perfume… there are so many late 90s/early noughties perfumes that I still gag at the smell of. Hugo Boss Deep Red anyone?

  6. U worked in quite a posh cafe when I was 15…me and my friend worked till we dropped fora pittance. But we had our dinner thrown in as well which was the only good thing about the job as the food was delicious 😋

  7. My first Saturday job was pretty cushy, working in the jewellers gushing insincere compliments to bemused customers and perfecting my Rowan Atkinson gift wrapping. But I wanted more hours and quit it for a job in the next door but one newsagent. I lasted three weeks, it was awful! The only highlight was my lovely colleague who always mysteriously ran out of bags when men bought their dirty magazines. Then on to a pretty crappy hotel, waitressing and trying to hold everything together with some volatile personalities. Brilliant stories- the groom one of my colleagues spilt a cream jug all over, the business stayer who got sacked while with us and put the booze he plied his female company with on the company credit card anyway.

    Through uni I worked as a door supervisor which was a wonderful job. Great to help people who need it and nothing like the rush of adrenaline when you’ve just broken up a fight. Lifelong friends from that one.

  8. My first official job (aside from babysitting and dog walking) was working as a waitress in catering and banqueting for weddings in the village hotel.
    Jesus talk about being thrown in the deep end, super early starts – 7am…finishing gone 2am, barely a break in sight…£4.50 per hour. I was exhausted, folding hundreds of napkins into an elaborate fan… being given tea towels to hold the SCOLDING hot plates and bowls and being told if we lose them we lose out, I foolishly put mine on the side of the kitchen while I went to help someone reach something from the large fridge, came back and they were gone. We had to carry two bowls of soup in each hand and I now only had one tea towel, manager wouldn’t offer a replacement so I used a small DAMP cloth, I learned the hard way that a damp cloth and hot plate dont mix and I had a bad burn as a result! 🙁 Plenty more horror stories I could tell about THAT place!
    I also worked for 118 118, boots as a makeup girl, AA car insurance, several bars and club, debenhams as a benefit girl (weird job!), marks and spencer’s in the lingerie, another catering job that I walked out of after 3 days of pure hell where I was being taken advantage of and finally the icing on the cake was a bar job (a very rough rnb/hiphop bar) that felt like world war 3 every friday and saturday, the club would shut at 2, We would still be cleaning at 4am and the manager was meant to arrange taxis home for staff,I lived the furthest away and always seemed to delay my taxi and one night he offered to drive me home and then made a pass at me! Awful! All these jobs were before I turned 22. I have worked in my current job for over 10 years now and love it!! All works out in the end!

    1. Oh my god Catrin, I’m sure they wouldn’t away with restricted tea towel usage these days.
      So glad you love your job now!

  9. My first job was in the school holidays making little bows for the front of bras. It took about 5 seconds to make each one, and that was all I did the whole day, whilst sitting on a very uncomfortable chair! To make things worse, I dreamt I was still making them when I went to sleep on a couple of nights! I was so relieved to go back to school afterwards, and decided I was going to university to make sure I didn’t end up in a job like that permanently.

  10. I worked at Littlewoods as a Saturday girl when I did my A Levels and after a shocking start I grew to love it. I got promoted and was in charge of thousands of pounds of cash but took it all in my stride – I’d be petrified now! Through university holidays I worked in a factory where we cute to size the bits of paper that are in trays of poultry/meat. Niche job!

  11. My first job (aside from babysitting) was pot washer and the hilarious thing was it was my friend’s job – he didn’t want to go one day so I went in his place and just sort of took over. I didn’t much like it but did get some vaguely edible free food at times.

    Then I worked in WHSmith in a train station and had people getting angry as we wouldn’t let them skip the queue just because they’d come in right before their train left. We had one of those honesty boxes where you could pay for a daily paper and you would not believe the random crap people put in there (like tomatoes… why?!)

    At uni I worked in Topshop on shoes, in summer. Other people’s feet in the summer. Lovely. I once got a complaint because I accidentally sent someone home with two left shoes! I hated it as the other girls there were pretty bitchy. Then worked at H&M and loved it (and the 25% discount).

    After uni I went into journalism and later charity work so not the same industry but I honestly think working in retail gives you lifelong skills, including patience and the ability to cope with people having a go at you!

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