My First Job – at F.W. Woolworths


My friend Carol has just recently joined Facebook and has been discovering all kinds of things about people and places we knew when we both grew up in Brockville. She introduced me to the sites, and they have brought a lot of memories and filled in some information that I’d forgotten.

When Carol posted the question, “Who worked at Woolworths in Brockville,” I could answer “yes” but I’d worked there only for a couple of days. I still don’t know why, but now I have some names to put into my story.

When I turned sixteen my mother thought it was time for me to find a summer job, although I don’t recall her ever mentioning it to me. She just came home from shopping one day and told me that I was to go the next day to see Mrs. Shipman at the Snack Bar in Woolworths. She’d asked her to give me a job!

Now, contrary to what a lot of people thought about me, I was really very shy. But if I was told to do something, I’d do my best. So I went to see Mrs. Shipman. I filled out some forms and I showed up for work on the day she told me.

I remember only a few details about the job. The first day I spent my entire shift in the upstairs kitchen, putting together ice cream sandwiches. At the end of the day, I was given a uniform and told me to go back the next day. I took the uniform home with me, because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I’d wear it back for my next shift. She’d given me no instructions and I was too shy to ask. Later my mother got a phone call telling her that I wasn’t supposed to take it home and to make sure I took it back.

The next day I was behind the counter. I was taught how to take orders and put together lunches. I was taught how to make banana splits, and I was given a tip jar. I got to know Gloria Byrd, who helped guide me through the day. She went to my high school and lived not far from me. I don’t recall being too busy, until the lunch crowd started coming in and a whole family sat down and ordered six banana splits. I had to make them! Maybe Gloria helped me.

At the end of my shift, Mrs. Shipman gave me my tips and said she’d call me when she wanted me to come in again. I left my uniform there. I think the only call I got was to tell me to pick up my pay cheque.

For years I wondered why I never got called back, but now reminiscing, I imagine it’s because I wasn’t outgoing enough for such a job. Too bad. I think had I’d been given a chance I might have learned how to relate better and stepped out of my shell sooner.