Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.
Prompt 2. A memorable fishing trip.
I’ve only been fishing one time so right there that’s pretty memorable. But this isn’t so much about a fishing trip as it is a story from my youth.
I was 16 and I had my first job. I was pretty but I didn’t know I had turned into a pretty girl. I was a waitress at a delicatessen, sometimes I would work the cash register. The job was an awful one, but I was no quitter and I liked the money that I got from my tips. When I think back to some of the things that happened on the job, I wonder if it is like that today, and I feel sorry for today’s working teenagers, especially the girls.
My bosses treated me, and all of the waitresses, like garbage. I wasn’t just hit on, I was out and out molested, with one of my co-workers pinning me up against a wall, unzipping my uniform and jamming his tongue down my mouth. I struggled from his grip, managing to escape any other damage. Everyone just thought it was a riot.
And then there was Mel, seriously his name was Mel, and he was our short-order cook. He liked me right away and he respected me. The only problems were: he was not cute enough for me, this WAS his career, and, oh, yeah, he was 21 years old! I think if he was cuter this would not have mattered for me, although I was quite the innocent, having not even kissed a boy yet, “all the way”.
Mel would always ask me out and he would promise to be a gentleman. “Just go out with me, I promise we will have fun.” I always turned him down politely although I liked being his friend. One day it happened to come up that I had never gone fishing. “You’ve never been fishing? Oh, please, you have to let me take you!” He wanted to go on our lunch break one Saturday to a nearby pond. I agreed to go, but I wanted it to be just friends.
Mel brought all his fishing gear and bait from home. We drove in his car that was something like a Gremlin, one of those really awful cars. And Mel was true to his word, he did not try a thing with me and I felt comfortable with him. We didn’t catch any fish, but it was a pleasant time nonetheless. Mel had packed a picnic lunch for us, I think with free stuff from the deli. So we probably ate pastrami and drank cream sodas while we fished.
Mel took me on another one of my firsts, canoeing. We went on a day when the deli was closed for a Jewish holiday with some of the other people from the restaurant. Mel picked me up at some obscene hour, like 4:30 a.m. because we had a bit of a drive. As I got in the car he exclaimed, “You are wearing makeup! It is 4:30 in the morning and you have done your hair and are wearing full makeup!” But in those days I never went anywhere without my makeup at any time, day or night. I didn’t think I was pretty enough not to.
I remember getting to the canoe place and the only other female, a woman in her mid-30s with two kids, was really annoyed at me for wearing makeup. The whole trip everyone was remarking in a good natured type of way how they all looked like the dregs of humanity on the canoe trip and I looked like a model, my hair and makeup totally unscathed.
I hated canoeing, I wasn’t in shape and I gave out early. Mel had to mostly row our canoe himself. And we got bit everywhere by mosquitoes, I mean everywhere.
That was my last time canoeing.
Another time Mel invited me to a party at his apartment. I was going to go with a girl who worked there who was my age but who was a lot more savvy, so my parents said okay.
It was one of the weirdest, most disappointing, most fascinating times of my life that I can still see so clearly. Mel’s place was a dump. There were tons of people I did not know, but there were a lot of people from work there too. Mel came over to me and told me he had some, I think it was Percocet, and he asked if I would like to sniff it to get high. I said no; I was really shocked that he would ask me but I guess he thought he was being a good host. This was probably one of the reasons he was a short-order cook instead of going to college.
And then Mel told me that in the other room people were doing cocaine and would I like to try some of that? I said no, but could I watch them? I went with my friend into the room where I came upon a scene that is still burned in my brain. They had the coke on a mirror, to me it looked like a lot but I had no idea, and people were snorting it. I watched, amazed yet horrified, as the people I knew began to do it. I was especially shocked when I saw the mother of two doing it. I wondered how she could take care of her kids when she got home when she was high.
After that party, I never felt the same way about Mel and I never went anywhere with him again.
You may be asking yourself, where were my parents in all of this? Well they were interested, but not enough. They never asked me what was going on at work, maybe I would have told them, but I liked the money too much to quit, never thinking that I could get another job. The food was good too and I didn’t realize how wrong it was for guys to be harassing me, I thought this was just what went on when you were in your working teenage years. My parents did ask me about Mel but I told them all of his bad points and that I was not interested in going out with him and so they trusted me.
I was very innocent and so were my parents. They were lucky that they had such a level-headed kid on their hands.
That job and the people there certainly opened my eyes about life.
If any lesson should be taken away from this, I would tell parents of teens to ask questions about their kids’ after school and weekend jobs, just like they ask how school was.
My first job was a lot more dangerous than high school ever was.