My parents never insisted that I get a job when I was in high school, but I wanted to shop at Contempo Casuals without having to ask them for permission to buy another plaid mini skirt or colored Guess jeans. Living in The Valley there was only one place to get a job ... the Glendale Galleria ... and I got a job at The Popcorn Palace serving up bags of flavored popcorn.
The galleria was a very social work place. You would see guys from school at the food court watching the cheerleaders bounce up and down while making lemonade at Hot Dog on a Stick. We would trade popcorn and candy with friends who worked at the gourmet coffee shop or the pizza & pasta place. Our friends who didn't have jobs would stop by for popcorn samples or just to hang out when things were slow.
Every day during the Christmas shopping season there would be a line of people wanting to buy canisters of popcorn as gifts. By lunchtime I would be wading ankle deep in spilled popcorn. I would go home with popcorn stuck to my clothes, shoes and hair.
Seventeen years later I can still remember the 28 different standard flavors and seasonal flavors of popcorn we sold (I dare you to quiz me sometime). Looking back I am proud that I got a job in high school when I didn't need to have one. I learned that I had a responsibility to a business, a manager and my co-workers. I was able to buy myself things and Christmas gifts because I earned a paycheck (even though I only made minimum wage). I took pride in a perfectly packed gift canister. And, I learned the benefits of a job well done when I was offered the position of Assistant Store Manager. This little job set the groundwork for where I am today.
The one negative that came out of that job was that I no longer like popcorn.