Widgets Magazine

Apr 14, 2012

A New Pair of Jeans

I turned 14 in 1979. It was the end of the 70s and psychedelic clothes, but the beginning of big hair and $50 jeans. That might not seem like a big deal to you, but to me it was huge! Girls were wearing their jeans so tight they had to lay down on the bed to zip them up. There was no such thing as stretch denim then, at least not where I lived.

You know I grew up in small-town Utah. We had very few shops there and only a handful sold clothing (I think the IFA sold the most...). That is until the Pant House opened. Their place was small, one area of our tiny strip mall, but they only carried denim jeans and one rack full of tee-shirts. I would have done anything to own a pair of those fancy jeans! Including apply for my first job from a real and actual business.


Our town had three places that served fast food, Charlie's, The Malt Shop, and Taco Time. Everybody wanted to work at Charlie's, because he was a fun and awesome guy, and because unless people came in, employees didn't really have to work. Those lucky few could even study if it were slow.  The Malt Shop was clear across town nearer my grandparents' house and since I was too young to drive, it was out of the question. That left Taco Time.

Taco Time was only about a block away from my house and relatively new to town. I loved the food there. Every time I had extra baby-sitting money, I would walk over and buy a cherry-Sprite in one of their keepsake glasses. After several years, I had quite a collection!  Unfortunately, the guy who ran the place didn't like me...maybe because I was constantly harassing him about when the newest glass would be available.

But I sure wanted a pair of those awesome jeans, so on a Friday afternoon, I gathered my courage and my loose change (had to buy the latest glass) and headed over. I was nervous and understandably so. This guy had the reputation for making his people work and if they didn't like it? They were out of there quickly! Thanks to Grandma, I knew how to work, but I was still worried.
Mexi-fries are my favorite!

I placed my order and sat down to wait. I could see the manager in the back when his daughter handed me my soda. Usually I just left at that point, but on that day I sat down at one of the little tables instead. It wasn't long before he made his way to the front counter, a white rag in his hand, vigorously attacking every surface. He was a big, barrel-chested man with a funny name...and he scared me.

When he got to the front, he seemed to notice that I was there. "What do you want?" he was never great with the customers. Now I am not a timid girl and I wasn't then either, so I spoke up, "Are you hiring?" He sort of guffawed at me, "Who needs a job?" I lifted my chin and looked him in the eye, "I do."

He eyed me up and down, clearly remembering all the trouble I had given him. Finally he asked, "How old are you?" I was a little worried about this question, but I answered truthfully, "Almost 15." After all, it was November and I would turn the end of January. He must have thought that was OK, because the next thing I knew I was getting a lecture on how to be a proper employee. I don't remember most of it, but the last thing he said was that I could start the next day. Maybe he mentioned wages there somewhere, but if he did, I didn't hear it. All I knew was that I had finally found a job, and I was going to get my pair of pants!

1 comment:

Arkansas Patti said...

I can so relate about that first job and actual money to buy the things a teen deems so important. Hope you got your jeans. Let us know.

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