Poor As A Field Mouse… Happy As A Clam…

I’ve had a paying job since the age of 8…  Not that I was good at every job I had.  At 8, I had a full-time babysitting job during the summer… 9 hours a day for 3 kids ages 1, 5, and 7… I was 8… and I was pretty much the most horrendous babysitter on the face of the planet.  I’d get caught up playing games with the 5 and 7 year olds and forget all about the baby.  I can’t even count how many times someone rang the doorbell with the lil’ dude in tow, saying he’d been playing out in the middle of the busy street by himself.  I was always very mature for my age  and I looked older too, thus the abundance of babysitting jobs… and when you’re 8/9 paying you 50 cents an hour is like a gold rush.  I hated looking mature.  I was at the library one time checking out books at the age of 12, and the lady asked me what I was majoring in in college… um… I’m about to go to recess and then daycare afterwards.

I had a paper route for years.  I picked apples in an apple orchard (scratch that, I got to pick the ones up off the ground since I was 12 and 12-year-olds get the bad end of the job deal).  I worked at Western Watts getting yelled at by people with wedgies who were not in the mood to do a survey.  I worked 2 jobs my first few years of college… K-Mart in the day and the movie theaters at night and weekends.  I worked for YEARS at Convergys getting yelled at by unsatisfied cellphone customers.

So, I’ve been making money since the age of 8… and I still have nothing to show for it.  No house of my own… no fancy dancy car less than 14 years old, no beautiful new furniture, no college degree (but 8 billion credits that add up to not enough) nothing, except a deeply instilled hard work bone.  It’s expensive to be fat.  Between the medications, diet schemes, food enough for a football team, doctor visits, procedures, etc., etc., etc., there’s not much left over at the end of the day.  In the past, I’ve gauged my happiness on the fact that I was poor.  I’m 32 years old and I pay minimal rent in my parent’s basement fer crying outloud!  How humiliating is that!?  .

My attitude is changing, slowly but surely.  Money don’t buy happiness… happiness comes from within.  If I determine that I’m going to be a happy person, by golly, I will be a happy person… despite the fact that I drive around a 1997 Buick and can’t afford a house, I’ve got so much that money can’t buy.  Take a minute, shut your yapper, look around you, and see all the treasures you do have, Whitney.  There’s not enough money in the world to replace those things.

Question of the Day:  What was your first job?  How old were you?

Price Tag by Jessie J featuring B.o.B.

It’s not about the money, money, money
We don’t need your money, money, money
We just wanna make the world dance,
Forget about the price tag
Ain’t about the (uh) Cha-Ching Cha-Ching
Ain’t about the (yeah) Ba-Bling Ba-Bling
Wanna make the world dance,
Forget about the price tag.


Why is everybody so obsessed?
Money can’t buy us happiness
Can we all slow down and enjoy right now
Guarantee we’ll be feeling alright



Filed under Childhood, Whitney's Playlist

19 responses to “Poor As A Field Mouse… Happy As A Clam…

  1. Avster

    What! You admitted that Beulah isn’t fancy! :O

    I don’t find your situation humiliating at all, Whitters. Most of it sounds like me… job since eight… no degree… though people think I’m younger than I really am. Two years ago I had someone tell me they thought I was thirteen. :O OUCH!
    I still have people asking me what year I am in school. They look pretty shocked when I tell them the year I graduated.
    Actually, at the fair on Sunday when I was checking in my photos there was a teen standing next to me. She was impressed with my photographs and asked me how long I had been taking photos. I told her six year and she said, “Oh, that’s about as long as I’ve been taking photos.” I’m sure she thought I was about the same age as her, but in my opinion I had about five years on her!

    The first time I remember making money was when I was maybe four. Every year my father would take my siblings out on the back roads and they would pick up pop cans. My father would be on a tractor pulling a wagon and my brothers would scavenge the sides of the roads. Then my father would take the cans to the salvage yard and my brothers would split the profit.
    Well, I was *finally* old enough to go along and as I was running to the wagon I tripped and fell and skinned my knee. I was *so* upset because I didn’t think I would get to go. I recall my father half laughing at all my tears as he carried me into the house for my mother to clean my knee. Before he left he gave me a quarter to make up for not being able to go along.
    I remember it made me *extremely* mad. I don’t know if I did some fast talking with my mother but the next thing I remember is running down the hill trying to catch up. I recall I wasn’t fast enough to catch up and I started crying as I was running. One of my brothers saw me and ran back and picked me up and ran with me back to the wagon.
    That’s pretty much all I remember of that!

    Since then I’ve had all sorts of odd jobs… a few of which would be babysitting, painting, weeding, mowing, gardening, and tour guide (yes, my s-i-l paid me to go places with her. She lived in NC and after she and my brother moved back to IL she would have me come along and she would give me either a treat or a little bit of money for helping her find her way around!).

    • Awww… little Avster running after the tractor… I’m picturing it now! That’s cute… I think we all think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence… I would love for people to think I was younger… but I’m sure if that had actually happened my whole life, I’d have changed my tune! That just means you will age well, Avy!

      • Avster

        Yee-ah, aging well is a family trait from my father’s side. It’s great when you’re older, but not so great when you’re younger. :b
        Know what? Yesterday my mother and I were watching harness races at the fair. We were commenting on the difference of the crowd than what was at the demolition derby (yes, I went to a dd!). My mother mentioned, “Yee-ah, there isn’t much of a younger crowd. You’re about the only teen here.”
        I nodded in agreement… and then about a minute later I exclaimed, “Did you just call me a teenager?” ~laughs~

  2. Liz

    I worked at a movie theatre right after high school too! What a fun job. Of course I worked my way out of the concession stand quickly and on to selling tickets and running the show.
    Don’t feel bad. My car is from 1998 (only 94,000 miles and still rocking!). And I don’t own a house either (we rent from the govt). But I’m as happy as can be!

  3. cl2

    I did A LOT of babysitting, but I’d say my first job was hoeing beets for my dad–summer after summer, day after long hot boring day–with horseflies biting us. My sister and I used to have contests on who could kill the most horseflies in a day. We picked tomatoes, picked up potatoes on our hands nad knees, picked corn, planted and picked cantalope (planting on our hands and knees). The rows are at least a block long if not longer. Hauled hay. TOOK CARE OF THE SHEEP–in first grade. My dad got us sheep and they were a block down the street. My brother was 4 years older, my sister 1 year older, and for Christmas we got a cart to pull the water to the sheep every morning and evening including winter until my brother turned 9 and could drive the pickup a block to water the sheep. Need I go on?

    You are about the age you could have babysat my children–and you got 50 cents an hour? I hate to tell you what I paid . . . I got 50 cents an hour in the 1960s and 1970s–what the?? I paid $2.50 an hour at least. I always gave bonuses. No wonder the girls fought over babysitting for me.

    Oh–and I have to come back and check. I get so distracted during the day I don’t get back to reading comments (I’m home again and painting another room and going to all kinds of doctor visits and dentist visits–and fighting with my internet)–but I was in Dillards yesterday and I saw SPANX for the first time. I’d never even heard of them until you posted about them. Are they worth buying?

    • Good crimeny, Colleen… garden work is dang hard work… especially such a big one! I used to complain so much when I had to pull weeds in the garden and on the ditch bank. It was literally a pain in the backside!

      I like my SPANX. They are hard to get on and I wouldn’t wear them for very long, but if you need to suck stuff in for something, they are totally good! I can tell a big difference when I have them on!

  4. cl2

    Sorry–your post hit home with me. I had a really good job in my 20s. I worked at Thiokol as a secretary for 8 years and i earned really good money. I had a brand new car (twice). I had a nice apartment and lovely clothes and I traveled. I got married and we were still doing well. Then he left. My sofa and love seat are 18 years old. I won’t tell you what else I DON’T HAVE. I finally have a reliable car thanks to my brother cosigning with me (credit went in the toilet with him leaving–I had perfect credit when I married him). I learned very slowly that THINGS mean nothing. Nice to have a few luxuries, but I’ve learned to go without. Actually, it is a lot less stressful . . . not having to keep up with the latest “home fashions”–etc. As long as its clean and there is enough money to pay the bills and buy food (and a car that doesn’t dump you in the middle of the desert in California).

  5. dessawade

    Picking potatoes was one of my first jobs. My brother and I worked together bending over the rows and putting the potatoes in a basket then dumping the basket into a burlap potato sack trying not to spill them all over hence having to pick them up again. It was hard on the back but I must admit that now that I look back I really didn’t mind it.
    I’m at the point where spending time with my family and enjoying the little pleasure of life that you can find everyday means the most.

  6. Louisa

    Question of the Day: What was your first job? How old were you?

    Growing up on a farm, we always had jobs / chores ( gardening, harvesting, haying, tending to animals, cleaning…)
    My first paying job was babysitting the neighbor’s bratty kids. Only did that once and I was over it. I was 10.
    My Dad is a doctor so all of us worked at his office. We started out young ( 10-11) mowing the grass, picking cigarette butts out of the ashtrays out on the porch, and painting. When we got old enough to work inside the office (pre-teen & teen age ) we filed, typed, answered phones, scheduled appts, and brought patients in and did the basics before putting them in a room to be seen.
    We learned about collecting money and billing as well.

    It was only natural that I worked my way through college. I worked in a couple hospital ICUs at night and on a horse farm part-time too and even as a waitress for a short time. It took some juggling but I made it all work. After college I worked in mental health facilities and at a lab. I made the lab my career and was doing very well with my own place and company car etc.
    Meeting my husband was life changing. He had his own success and a house. When we decided to get married and later to have kids, I was the logical one to stay home with them. Neither one of us wanted daycares and babysitters to raise our children. We decided to sacrafice for what we wanted and planned to get debt free, go to one income, and to have kids.
    We have had our struggles along the way but we are stronger for them.

    Keep on…keepin’ on…

    • I did not know you had been in the medical field previously, Louisa. That’s where I am now. I think it’s very honorable that you are home raising your kids. They will so appreciate that when they are older.

  7. Jen

    Besides babysitting, my first real job was when I was 15 at Western Wats.

  8. I babysat a ton in my teen years. I did 2 summers at Discovery Research (not much better than Western Wats I’m guessing!). Then I worked for Dr. Anderson and then I’ve been at my current job ever since. I did some research related jobs in grad school and was even a TA for a semester for a statistics class. You are definitely a hard worker (maybe even too much sometimes) and that is something that is priceless.

    • Some of them people at Discovery Research across the hall from the office are kind of freaky! They were the same way at Western Wats. Sucky job, but at least it brought in some money!

  9. Dorothy Dingman

    My first job was babysitting as well. I actually baby sat a girl that had down syndrome and was 4 years older than I was. I was 9 at the time and she was 13. Guess I have always known my calling in life! I don’t have a lot, my car is a 1993, we are buying our modular home, and we are able to meet our basic needs, and manage to save up enough to do a mini-vacation on a strict budget every other year.

    I am happier than I have ever been, and can honestly say that I would not trade my experiences, or the life I have for anything.

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