The first time I was paid by check, not in cash, was at Triangle Rents, an equipment rental yard in Carmichael where I worked as a “Yard Ape” doing chores the real employees did not want to do. I was 16 or 17 and It was my first full-time summer job, 8 hours a day for 5 days a week which always included weekends, thereby also making it the first time I had to give up summer vacation.
She promised a $1 an hour and guaranteed 3 hours work each week.
It was not the first time I was paid for work, only the first time by check. I had lots of jobs as a kid; mowing lawns, gardening chores even babysitting neighbor kids; nothing more than chores, but done for someone other than my parents, so I got paid. When I was about 15, a neighbor, who was 4 years older than me, asked if I wanted to replace him on yard-work job he did every Saturday for an elderly lady in Rancho Cordova, about 5 miles from my house. I agreed and met Mrs. Beach.
Mrs. Beach lived on Coloma Road, then a two lane country road between Sunrise Boulevard and the housing tracts of Rancho Cordova, about a mile away. Hers was the only house in that entire stretch of road. I was to come every Saturday morning to mow her lawn and do other gardening chores such as raking or pruning – whatever she would deem as necessary. She promised a $1 an hour and guaranteed 3 hours work each week.
Those were safer times so I would hitchhike to her house. She was nearly always already hard at it cutting things for me to rake or planning other chores. I’d mow her lawn then clean up the cuttings which left a couple hours for other assignments. She was true to her word and always kept me 3 hours. I was often aggravated by what I perceived to be “make work” chores when I just wanted to be done and gone. She did need the help though and always expressed her thanks. I now realize she was just making sure I got the full $3, but required that I earn it.
I worked for her for maybe 2 years then gave it to my brother when I started at Triangle Rents. Without realizing it until later, Mrs. Beach taught me the importance of being on time, of doing what was asked of me to the best of my ability and to put in the time necessary – to stick with it – in order to complete the job; traits that went far toward earning that first paycheck and others throughout my life.