My very first job was an unusual one. I started working when I was 14 and worked at a coffee/cheese/gift shop. It was a little local affair owned by a retired couple and was just busy enough to make it fun but rarely extremely busy. I tended to work shifts alone during the week and with one other person on the weekends.
Most of my time centered around making coffee drinks (iced, hot, blended, etc.) and creating gift baskets of coffee, cheese, nuts and other snacks. I loved doing this so much! Though I've had many jobs since this one, I learned quite a few lessons at my first job that are a part of my life today...some 17 years later.
1. Covet your alone time
I've always preferred being alone than being around people. Being by yourself at a coffee shop and having nothing but hours to read was amazing. This was before the prevalence of the Internet, so there was no internet surfing...just glorious reading, gift basket making and people watching. The older you get, time alone is more of a rarity so enjoy it while you can.
2. Above all, be kind
On the rare occasion we'd be busy, sometimes customers would get mean or snap at me. I recognized that their frustration wasn't actually at me but at something or someone else and I just happened to bear the brunt of it. I learned that by simply being kind to these angry customers, I usually was able to switch their mood by the time they left. It's really hard to keep being mean to someone who is smiling and being pleasant to you. (Unless you are a monster!)
3. Stop and smell the... (coffee?)
I do not drink coffee at all, but I love the smell of it. The beans, the smell of espresso...all of it! We sold a bunch of flavored coffee beans by the pound and I distinctly remember going over, lifting the lid and letting the smell of the coffee waft over me. It was great. Sometimes, you just need to take a moment and pause.
4. People are often predictable
I got really good at guessing what someone would order before they came in. Business man in a suit? He'll get a plain cup of coffee with a little cream. Mom and teenage girl out shopping? Skinny latte for mom and a mocha for the girl. It was almost a game to me to guess what people would order. In life it's easy for me (usually) to predict people's outcomes or reactions to things. Heck, I've even learned to NOT do things at work or home because I can pretty much guess what a reaction will be. This has helped me immensely to avoid conflict. :)
5. Cleaning is a necessary evil
I used to loathe closing the coffee shop in the evenings because of all the cleaning involved. Mopping, sanitizing, cleaning machines, filters, etc. It took all of 90 minutes to clean that place. I hated it but I realized that it was absolutely necessary to do it all every night because the health inspectors could come by and if it wasn't clean we could fail our inspection or worse. This was a part of my job...a necessary evil. As an adult, I look at cleaning the same way. I do not enjoy it (really who does?!) but it's necessary for me to calm and successful. Having a clean house and work environment helps me to be a better person. I'm less stressed/anxious and more focused and just all around a little easier to live with if my house is clean.
What was your first job?