My first job

My first job

When I was a kid, I needed a great deal of money to support my Bazooka Joe bubble gum addiction. I was up to 3 new pieces every hour. That was $1.50 a day, which is $1390 in today’s money.

I asked my dad if I could use the family’s push lawn mower to mow the neighbor’s yards for money. He said yes and I used my etch-a-sketch junior printer to make a bunch of fliers that I put on all the neighborhood door mats.

I got a call the next day from President Nixon. We lived a block from White House. He asked how much I charged. The White House lawn was especially big. I said $10.50, which would scratch my gum itch for a whole week! He said he’d pay $3 plus an extra large button that said “President Nixon – Now More than Ever.” I felt in my pocket and counted three cents and moped, “I guess that’s alright.”

I pushed the mower over to the White House. Back then there was no guarded entrance. I walked up the long driveway and knocked on the door. President Nixon answered the door in his fancy suit.

He looked at the mower and said, “When I was your age, my daddy made me scythe the entire yard’s lawn. I pretended I was Dickie Death, lawn slayer. I showed no mercy.”

I said, “That’s good. I’m gonna start now.”

I set about the mowing. I got tired after a half hour. Plus the flavor of my Bazooka Joe ran out. I felt like I was chewing wax.

I went into the White House hoping to find a snack. A lot of people were walking around fast. My kid’s radar guided me to the kitchen. The chef was smoking a cigarette and reading a pulp paperback. I asked if I could get a cookie. He pointed to a jar. I grabbed a handful of chocolate chip cookies. I asked for a glass of milk. The chef pointed to the fridge. I grabbed a carton.

I went outside to eat and discovered the President mowing the lawn with our mower. He was wearing baggy shorts and an, “I’m a Pepper!” t-shirt. He waved at me. I waved back.

I sat on a bench ate and drank and watched. The President was fast. He mowed row after row with no signs of fatigue. He seemed possessed.

The President finished the entire lawn. I felt cruddy. I had a dull headache. I worried that I wouldn’t get paid.

The President came up to me, smelling like grass. His eyes were ablaze. He reached into his pocket and gave me five dollars.

He said, “Can you come back again next week?!?”

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