Friday, 17 April 2015
My First Paying Job
On my "Ask Me Anything" post, Diane of Always Crave Cute inquired: "What was your first paying job?"
I got my first job in high school when I was fifteen. The local dentist hired me to be his part-time dental assistant after school every day and on Saturday mornings. He trained me to do everything his full-time dental assistant did. When her workday ended at 5:00 p.m., my 2-hour shift began. I changed out of my school clothes in the medical centre's public washroom and got into my blue polyester healthcare uniform. So cute, LOL!
I assisted the dentist while he did fillings, extractions, root canals, dentures, crowns, etc. I poured and cut plaster impressions of teeth. I learned how to sterilize instruments in the autoclave and develop x-rays. I answered the phone and booked appointments. I did it all, man! However, since I had no professional accreditation I was not allowed to work directly on patients while unsupervised (i.e. clean teeth).
Now that I was earning wages, my $20 per month allowance from my parents stopped. I paid for all my own clothes, books, records and entertainment. I gave a certain amount of my wages to my Mom every month as a contribution to household expenses. The rest I saved to help fund my dream of going to university. In the three years I worked for the dentist, I managed to save $1,500. Doesn't sound like much now, but it was a tidy little sum in the mid-70s.
I learned two very important things from that job. First, I learned the ropes of how to work for a living. On my first day, the dentist said: "I don't ever want to see you just standing around doing nothing. There's always something to do, so find it and do it. Don't wait for me to tell you." If I did something incorrectly, he made me stay late to do it over until I learned how to do it right. It was a demanding job, but he trained me well.
Secondly, I learned enough about dentistry so that I can always tell when a dentist is recommending unnecessary work just to charge more fees. I've had a couple of dentists over the past 40 years who've tried to pull that stunt on me. I just immediately leave them and take my business elsewhere. But largely I've been fortunate to have had some really good and trustworthy dentists, both in Winnipeg and here in Edmonton.