Magazine topic: 
Life around the world
Total votes: 76

My first job: cleaning clothes

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by : 
JenniferO

‘Dry clean only’ is probably a phrase that you have seen before. You see it on the labels of certain pieces of clothing – like smart jackets, trousers and skirts, and ties or other silk garments. Next to the words, or above them, you’ll also so a capital ‘P’ with a circle around it. It’s the ‘P’ my mum always taught us to avoid when buying clothes. ‘P’ means it has to be dry-cleaned, and dry cleaning is expensive. ‘P’ stands for ‘perchloroethylene.’ That’s the chemical that is used in the machine to ‘dry clean’ the clothes because water would damage – stretch, shrink, fade – the fabric. I know quite a lot about this because every Saturday from the age of 15 to 18 I worked at a dry cleaning shop. I greeted customers, advised them about their clothes, pinned tickets onto anything we took in, sorted the clothes into ‘loads’, sent them to the machine, steamed them when they came out, sent them to be pressed, put plastic bags on them when they were done, hung them up in numerical order, and took the money for them when they were collected. At the end of the day, I helped to clean the floor, and once I even cleaned the walls. It was my first job: it was not particularly fun, and it was not at all glamorous, but, looking back, I think it was important.  I’ll try to explain why.

The only reason why it was important back then was the money. For the first year I earned four pounds an hour, and after that it was five. It’s almost unbelievable now: that’s the physically hardest job I’ve ever had and the least I’ve earned. But it paid for my social life, my mobile phone credit, a weekly copy of the NME, a holiday to Portugal after my 'A' Levels, and, thanks to extra shifts in the summer holidays before university, my first laptop. 
               
One of the reasons why that job seems important now is because it was the first time I spent on an equal level with adults. As a teenager, the only adults you tend to regularly spend time with are the ones who have authority over you: your parents and your teachers. But having a job gives you a chance to mix with adults who are doing the same task as you. And if you don’t do the task, they won’t shout at you, or call you back after school, they’ll just tell you not to come back to work. And then you won’t have any money for the things in the previous paragraph. This is a handy thing to learn early. And it was also handy to learn that adults are okay – that you can actually get along with people who don’t have the same hairstyle and shoes and year of birth as you.

Then there’s the clothes. I love clothes. I think clothes are great. Working at the dry cleaners gave me a chance to work with some beautiful, expensive, well-made, well-tailored clothes. It gave me a chance to work with wedding dresses and evening dresses, and to learn which materials can last through generations, and which cannot. It’s probably the reason why I still prefer to repair old clothes – new buttons, new zips, patched-up holes – than buy new ones.

But my time at that shop also taught me some important things about what I didn’t want. I knew that I didn’t want to be cleaning other people’s clothes in the future. I didn’t want to work on a tiny, suburban street where you saw the same people every Saturday. I didn’t want to kneel next to a basket folding a stranger’s underpants and pairing their socks. I didn’t want to go home smelling like chemicals. And so I went to university at 18 with no idea what I wanted to do or be as an adult, but with my very own laptop and a good idea of what life wasn’t going to be. It wasn’t going to be  ‘dry clean only.’

Discussion

Do you have a part-time job? Do you think teenagers should work while they are at school?

Comments

warda2001's picture
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warda2001 18 July, 2016 - 19:00

No I haven't a part - time job, but my friends have part time - jobs and they do not time to do homework .

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dzeni's picture
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dzeni 14 March, 2014 - 18:13

No, I don`t. I think teenagers can work while they are in school. It`s great to have your own money and be independent but not do some hard work because then you will be tired, you won`t concentrate on lessons and you will failed exams.

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Niluh's picture
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Niluh 28 November, 2013 - 16:37

I don't, but my friend has a part-time job. He has job in hotel as a waiter, It starts after class from 2 PM to 10 PM. I don't think to have a part-time job because i will be so tired doing it. My friend always fall asleep at class and doesn't really care about study

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25 users have voted.
Ilgın's picture
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Ilgın 12 July, 2013 - 13:21

I think we don't get a part-time job a when school time. Because we should concentrate on our lessons. But in suumer I get a job. This summer I help with a student for her English lessons. And now I try to be a guide to Divriği Great Mosque. I spend time in Divriği at summer time with my parents. A few weeks before I applied for this job and now I'm waiting:) But I really wanna this job:)

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22 users have voted.
Bosnianchild's picture
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Bosnianchild 3 July, 2013 - 15:08

In Bosnia,we don't have so many possibility to have a part-time job beucase this is not normal for our people.Bosnia have traditional,that man(husband) only works and he is responsible for all family.But now,most parents want to learn their children to work and they are looking for a part-time job.
I think that is very cool and important for every child.The child feels responsible and older. :-)

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24 users have voted.
onedirectionlover2002's picture
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onedirectionlov... 21 May, 2013 - 15:07

In my country we don't have any part-time jobs fior teens but to get nearly RS 1000 for a week, I take my neighbourhood's children to park and sometimes coach at sports. I get 1000 from one house for coaching sports and 50 for taking to the park plus my pocket money's 500 per week! I think teens should part-time jobs., it's fun!

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26 users have voted.
Zhazira's picture
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Zhazira 20 May, 2013 - 15:43

The first job is definiately important in people`s life. Actually it`s first and great experience. In my country it`s complicated to get a job if you are under 18. So, i got my first job when I was 15(one year ago), although it wasn`t usual job. It was the end of my mother`s maternity leave, at that moment my little brother was 13 months only.. So Mom told me to look after him for money, she also explained to me that I have to babysit from 9 to 6 from monday to fridaa during all summer holidays. Mom said :"It doesn`t matter what is your job, it`s should be paid" So while all my peers were resting and relaxing far away from home, near the sea, I was working hard. Every day I had to look after my brothers. This means play with him, feed him , etc. It was really hard but then i get accustomed . After all my work, when it was the end of holiday, i just understood how that work useful. I earned quite a good amount of money^) and also lot`s of experience how to babysit. it also made me more mature. So, it was very hard, though, my job was absolutely challenging and rewarding. I didn`t even regret that i missed my holiday.

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24 users have voted.
rosepoupette's picture
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rosepoupette 20 April, 2013 - 12:32

In my opinion, there are two sides to this issue. We can see some advantages but also disadvantages to teenagers working.
First of all, teens don't need to work at this age. They are still thinking about their goals for the future and they are interested in beginning a new life in College or University, because they want to succeed in life when they find a profession they like to do.
In addition, there is too much school work, such as homework and tests, which doesn't leave time for a job. Therefore, they are already stressed and need free time to engage in other activities such as play an instrument, take up a sport...etc. They need to channel their energy into something positive but at the same time relaxing, that will help them decrease their stress levels.
On the other hand, it is said that teenagers should find a job especially if their families are short of money. There are also those who feel under pressure to help in the family business, instead of choosing an academic path. Not to mention the youngsters who aren't keen on studying and will not opt for enrolling in a University, thus choosing to do manual or more technical work.
Finally, I believe that teenagers oughtn't to work at this age as it is necessary that they develop their skills, create a rounded personality and build their future by enhancing their knowledge and being able to offer to society.

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25 users have voted.
ziofraaank's picture
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ziofraaank 6 April, 2013 - 21:46

I personally believe that school and work shouldn't be two separate things. Here in my country (Italy), although the scholar system is not the best in the world maybe, at age 17 you MUST have a season job or attend a job placement. I think this is right because just work experience teachs you to be strong, responsible, practical, reactive, reliable, and the real money value, and I think these features are useful for the school career as well. So I think it depends a lot from where do you live and how's the scholar system organized in your country. For instance, I really like the uk from this point of view.

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 9 May, 2013 - 19:05

Hi, ziofraaank
Nice comment, I completely agree with you; through part-time job we learn how to tolerate others, we become independent, responsible and mature. And of course, when we earn our own money, we'll learn to appreciate it more, and we'll have the different attitude towards money; we'll spend it more rationally and we'll put a little aside.
Greetings:)

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24 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
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Jonathan - Coor... 10 May, 2013 - 04:59

Hi! Something nice, you mentioned that it's not very common to look for a part-time job where you live.  What kind of jobs are available? Have you had a part-time job before? ziofraaank, you mentioned it's very different in Italy and most teenagers do seasonal work. What kind of work have you done? Are you looking for a job this summer? Looking forward to reading your ideas!
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 10 May, 2013 - 13:25

Hi, Jonathan
Thanks for your reply. Here in Serbia we don't have much choice, especially the little places. Teens in Belgrade and Novi Sad can find many job opportunities, because there're many volunteer events, but not a real part-time job, like working in cafes or something like that. One friend of mine works in a cafe, but they mostly hire adults-about 20 years old. We have many teen TV shows, so some of my friends work there, for local television, and they have a very good salary, but there aren't many places for that job. Journalism is perhaps the most developed and the area teens can work in the most. I had a part-time job once, when I was in the USA. It's very popular there and I was on a student exchange. It was the project about hunger relief, and we had to help some poor families. It was more like volunteering, but still good experience. And once in my city was organised the encounter of writers from all the world, and they were looking for teens with knowledge in foreign languages, so I got in, but as a volunteer.

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
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Jonathan - Coor... 12 May, 2013 - 07:32

Sounds good! I think volunteering is a great way to gain experience and meet new people, and the literary festival in your city sounds brilliant. Did you meet any famous writers? How long and what hours did you have to work? It's only a shame that you can't usually earn much money doing volunteer work.
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 12 May, 2013 - 16:59

Hi, Jonathan
Yes, I met some writers. Have you heard for Claudio Magris? He's an Italian poesy writer. I also met David Grossman, an Israeli writer. It was great to hear their opinion about some topics and to have the opportunity to talk to them about their books.
It lasted for three days and we had to be available every day, during the whole day. I had to work about three hours daily and it wasn't so exhausting, since there were many other teens and interesting writers. Yes, you're right, we can't earn much money, but we got some little presents, like books, and free entrance to some festivals in the country.

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 20 March, 2013 - 18:11

I have never had a part-time job. I think it's very useful and that every teen should earn money by himself, in order to have his own money and to be independent. But my parents would never allow me to do a part-time job. My friend has a part-time job. She works during the school year and she earns about 10$ a week. In my country the part-time job isn't very popular, actually, it isn't popular at all, but I'd like that it become as soon as possible.

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22 users have voted.
Beauty2705's picture
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Beauty2705 16 March, 2013 - 15:56

welll....I don't have any part-time job...but I'd love to earn money on my own...though I know that it isn't easy...in my opinion, teenagers can have a part-time job if they can manage without getting bad marks....if they can study well and work well, I think it isn't a bad idea, don't u agree guys?

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25 users have voted.
fatmira-n's picture
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fatmira-n 7 March, 2013 - 12:05

no i dont think so.i think that the pupils\students should focus only in the school

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23 users have voted.
littlegoldfish's picture
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littlegoldfish 6 March, 2013 - 21:34

I loved your articleª Yes, definitely, I think all teenagers should have a part time job! We can learn so many things which can help us decide what we want and, as you said, what we don't want. We would be better prepared for life later on!

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26 users have voted.
dona cenja's picture
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dona cenja 1 March, 2013 - 04:39

I don't have a part-time job.I don't think that is so important to work because teenagers should spend their time to studing

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24 users have voted.
megisiana's picture
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megisiana 28 February, 2013 - 19:45

i don't have work and i think teenager don't use to work ,,,,,,,, For my opinion they should focus is the school so in the future they can work..............,,,And some teen in the world used to work because they don't have to eat,,, but they are to young .... for me SCHOOL is the first

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Jona's picture
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Jona 23 February, 2013 - 22:28

I don't have a part-time job.
Teens should not work but they should concentrate on their lessons 'cause this is the most important job for them.This is a full-time job that requires hard work,willpower,concentration and a million other things.

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26 users have voted.
Gabby's picture
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Gabby 22 February, 2013 - 23:09

I don't have a part-time job. It's common in my country, but I think teenagers should spend their time studying.

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Konstantina's picture
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Konstantina 22 February, 2013 - 14:13

I don't have a part-time job.I think that teens should concentrate at their studies because they are young and they still go to school.Finally,my opinion is that teens shouldn't have a job.

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Ilda G's picture
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Ilda G 18 February, 2013 - 21:53

No I don't have a part time job,but I think it is good for teenagers to have a part time job because this way they would earn the money to buy their books or clothes

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sam786's picture
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sam786 18 February, 2013 - 13:14

I dont have a part time job and teenagers shouldn't work while studying because it can affect their studies and then they can gain less grade probably a C or D. They should concentrate on their studies.

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gnwestlife28's picture
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gnwestlife28 17 February, 2013 - 01:23

Oh I'm not old enough to find a job. I just 15 years old....But when I 17 years old I'll try my best to find a job. :))

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Demy's picture
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Demy 11 February, 2013 - 10:26

Hi,everybody!!
I have not a part-time job.I would like to have to be independent and earn my own money. But my parents never allow me to adulthood))) They so care about me...

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29 users have voted.