Summer Wages

                                                                                                                                     The Light circa 2005

The notice on the wall at the corner candy store said that the summer job offered 50 cents a day plus tips. I was only 12 but my addiction to comic books and macaroon chocolate bars dictated that I seek summer employment. The job on offer was to help the coal man deliver heavy bags of Cape Breton’s best to the basements of North End Halifax. Two dollars and fifty cents a week was big money but the only tip I ever received was a glass of cool aid from a Granny on Ilseville Street.

My uncle advised me that I was on the road to financial freedom and that I should consider saving some of my summer wages. Can you imagine 12 years old and $2.50 a week to spend, and no expenses? Life just could not get any better!

With that experience under my belt I moved on to better jobs for better wages. There was yard cleaning, cutting grass, painting fences, walking dogs, delivering the Star Weekly and finally working for Halifax City Recreation as a Life Guard. My assignment was Horse Shoe Island beach on the North West Arm. Sadly there are no Life Guards working that beach today due to water pollution. If truth be known Halifax’s beaches were probably just as polluted back then, but nobody tested the water then.

As part of a local committee I recently interviewed 10 teenagers for 5 summer jobs in the North Shore area. I was very impressed with their level of experience and their enthusiasm for work. Contrary to popular belief I found that not all teenagers are content to vegetate in front of their computer. I agree that there are a few who will pig out on potato chips in front of the television watching reruns of Don Cherry’s Rant. This small group of teenagers is easily identified because they are usually wedge in between adults enjoying the same activity.

Kids today have many activities to tempt from not taking on hard labour. Sadly not many of these activities entice them out into the fresh air. Computer games, internet browsing, mindless, moronic television are just few of these temptations. Did I say moronic television? Excuse me. I meant to say, thought provoking television that stimulates the minds of our youth to consider future career paths that will create economic growth and happiness for them and their community. Yes that’s what I meant to say.

My nephew had a terrific summer job when he was saving money for college. He was the Night Watchman at a knitting factory in Cambridge Ontario. His only responsibility was to turn off the machines if one broke down. He then had to call in the technician to repair it. When asked in the initial interview if he had any experience in the knitting industry he replied that he often made tea for his granny when she was knitting.

The local office of Open Doors has scores of walk in clients. Many of these job seekers are teenagers who require employment advice and counseling. Open Doors advises me that many applicants have computer skills high on their list of abilities. I asked the employment counselor at Open Doors what kind of work do most of her teenage clients seek. Her immediate response was “They definitely don’t want to pick berries of any color. They prefer non laborious positions such as surfing the internet. More importantly the job must offer more than 10 dollars an hour.” I for one could be tempted out of retirement for a job like that.

I then enquired what was the most interesting job opportunity at Open Doors this summer.The answer was that Flesh Encounters was seeking trainees, no experience necessary for 2 positions at their Amherst location. The job was body piercing for the walk in public. How does one prepare for such an employment opportunity? More to the point, how does employment experience of this nature assist you with your next career move?

I am often asked now that I am retired how did I make my career choices.

Well the answer is simple. I took every job that I ever was offered when I was younger and the moment I felt that it was a bad decision, I vowed to move on and avoid that work in the future. Needless to say, one has to prepare oneself for future career moves and lifting large bags of coal while not on my resume today was nevertheless a good career move at the time.

Quietly Retired on Waugh’s River


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *