We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofCameron Christopher

There is no better feeling than when you finish mopping after a long closing shift, finish the final wipe down, clock out and grab your check from the previous week, ripping off the ends of the paystub and seeing your earnings. An even better feeling is when you notice you got a fifty cent raise. Fifty cents doesn't seem like a big difference, but when you’ve only been working at your job for a month and you see your hard work pay off, it’s the best thing since toilet paper. Eating free fries at work, bantering back and forth in the kitchen, the feel of the obnoxious plastic bags, the smell of the cooked chickens or the bread are only a few of my favorite parts of my jobs. 

It all started back in mid July, the summer of quarantine. A family friend of mine opened a new restaurant about a year prior, so I applied to be a dishwasher and was hired. I had been working there a couple months, when Market Basket, the job I had applied to at the beginning of the school year, called and asked if I was still interested. I got hired there as well. 

“Two jobs? Is that going to be too much for me to handle?” I asked myself. But I did it anyway. I committed to working two nights a week and the weekend was designated to my shifts at Market Basket as a cashier. Working two jobs immediately made me feel amazing. Of course it was tiring at first, actually it still is, but it was empowering to be working. 

The dishwashing job was my second job. The summer before, I had a job that was only on Sundays at a flea market. You may ask, “Why does this fifteen year old girl need/want to work two jobs, let alone one?” Well my mom has always told me to “get a job” when I would ask for things. While obviously satire, it got me thinking. _What do I want to do when I'm olde_r? I kept giving thought to the same question as I grew up, and the answer was constantly changing and developing with age. I want to be a vet, I want to be a doctor and live in a country house, I want to be in the Behavioral Analysis Unit in the FBI, I want to work, graduate high school early, move out of my mom’s house when I'm eighteen and somehow get a degree in psychology. In order to achieve my goals, I need to work as hard as possible. 

A big motivator for working is my need to be independent and financially stable on my own. Growing up in the home that I did taught me that you have to work for what you want and need, nothing is handed to you. I've seen my friends have the things I wanted and have been very jealous, and I recognize now that I can give that to myself. It's hard for me to balance out my social life, work, and school, which is why I sacrificed most of my time for work. I just want to be successful. Working long shifts and doubles in the restaurant business and the customer service business has really taught me a lot about life, like how to deal with people, to be kind, and many other things. I want to be a hard worker and get things done for my future. It's hard but it's possible, and I can't wait to see where I go in life.

© Cameron Christopher. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.