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.

40 comments:

anne marie in philly said...

my boss always says the same thing: "no standing, do something!" and he's right!

my first job was a cashier in a cafeteria. this was the early 70s; the register was huge, no bar scanner, just punch in all the numbers. and it didn't make change, you had to figure that out for yourself!

strangelynaked.com said...

People were okay with a 15 year old sticking her fingers in their mouth? I would be trepidatious at best to have a teenage dental hygienist. Regardless, what a great opportunity for you. That had to be a much better and more interesting job than the one I had at a gas station. Great answer to a good question.

DEZMOND said...

such delight! Did you manage to get into the university in the end?

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hahaha...i did the same thing in boston! i was taught everything by the dentist i worked for. i gave all the injections and even did fillings and minor surgery. i was so good that patients requested that i work on them rather than the dentist. hmmmm...are we on to something here? slave labor in dentistry? i always thought i was the only one! dentist can NEVER pull anything over on me!!!

Jeanne said...

Debra the Dental Assistant...some how I just can't picture it.....

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

What a fantastic first job! And that dentist was a great teacher, too. This is such an interesting post!

mxtodis123 said...

What a fabulous first job. So much more interesting than my waitress job...although at the time I made it interesting.
Mary

laurie said...

that is amazing,, I always thought you were a strong willed person and I see I was right!!Independent right from the start!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Hi Dezzy -- Yes, I did make it into university, thanks to government Student Aid and Loans.

Hi Jaz -- I'm so glad we have this in common! Yay for all dental assistants everywhere!

Mark said...

It's a bit of a shame that in all your time there you didn't earn any kind of accreditation. It sounds more like an apprenticeship than an actual job; where you learn while you work and come out of it fully accredited. You picked up some neat tricks no doubt though and now won't get swindled by dentists. Yay! And, best of all, you got to go to University.

Miss Val's Creations said...

That sounds like a perfect first job to learn work ethic. A great boss, willing to train is so important. The month I turned 16, my mom had interviews lined up for me at retail stores. That first job I had from 16 all through college. They were awesome!

Snap said...

I'm really enjoying your "ask me" segments. $1500 was a lot of $$$ way back then ... I remember! Catching up today. Love the timmy's post.

JACKIESUE said...

amazing..couldn't do that today..and good for you you hard worker you..



GO JETS

Linda Wildenstein said...

What a wonderful 1st paying job. Great lessons learned.

Katy Anders said...

No. No no no.

I can't even think about teeth.

That job for me would be worse than having to rip people's toes off with pliers. I can at least look at toes.

Dr. Theda said...

Stacey could probably use your "help"... months back when that sorry "Crack-Head" attacked me ... (over five minutes of me being held to the floor by the throat and beaten in the face , broke and fractured all of my teeth... since then fragments and "chunks" on my teeth have been coming out and mouth ( and face) are in constant pain...
even have a collection of some of these pieces of my teeth setting on my monitor in front of me...
... So we have had to become accustomed to "Pain" all of the time...

Jono said...

So now you have ways of making me talk!

Professor Chaos said...

Holy cow, you can be a dental assistant in Canada without going to school? You may have us beat in healthcare, and just about everything else probably, but I think we win dentistry. Finally, something we do better than Canada. USA! USA!

John M said...

Very interesting post. My first job was packing boxes at a greeting card company called Norcross. There was no air conditioning and the work was hard.

It motivated me to stay in school and eventually I became a Pharmacist.

Another good thing that came from this experience is that now I'm good at packing the refrigerator, car trunk, etc.

Dixie@dcrelief said...

How interesting, really!

Adam said...

My first job was a bagger at a grocery store. That brings back nightmares. I wish my shifts had been just 2 hours long.

Missy George said...

My first job was at a snack bar in a hospital..at least you learned something...Sounds like he was a positive influence ?..If it's worth doing..Do it right..Have a fun weekend.

Dr. Theda said...

My first Job was Morris Costumes ( Shipping Warehouse worker)
Wonderful Masks , magic tricks hats wigs.... and other like rubber "critters" (snakes , rats, spiders or severed hands.... Novelty "gags" and "Clown make-Up"..
had to drive all the way the Charlotte and back each day...
once nearly got used as a Bengal Tiger's "play toy".... Magician, Vince Carmine was on break from rehearsing for his upcoming Vegas show... and they forgot to lock "Rusty's" (the Tiger)cage back...
Another time after a 14 foot drop ( landing on one side of my face) a 65lbs box of rubber Spiders fell with me an landed on my head smashing my face to the cold floor....
and the couple of times we were left "dangling" by the neck .... and the Black Widows....
Great place to work....!!!!!

Insomniac’s Attic said...

My first job at 14 was working in the kitchen of the Grace Maternity Hospital, delivering meals to patients. After that experience, I'm kinda surprised I ever had kids, actually! I wish I'd apprenticed at a dentist's office, then I'd know for sure whether all those $3000 gold crowns were really necessary or not. I suspect not. :)

mrsduncanmahogany said...

Oooh you need to give me the names of the good ones here in the Peg! There have been a few over the years that have gotten more than their fair share of my hard earned $$.....

Guillaume said...

This is a really fascinating post. How much one can learn from a first job, and you end up earning far more than a salary.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello, greetings and good wishes.

To start working when you are just fifteen and in school is really admirable. To stand on your own feet at that young age and even contribute to household expenses is fantastic. To save money to go to the University is a very noble aim and worthy of emulation. You are a fabulous person.

Your dentist advice is excellent and can be used by all of us. Most of us sit idle and waste our time day dreaming and do nothing.

Best wishes


CraveCute said...

I can't believe that was legal! What a professional first job! That is simply amazing!
Wow much better then my first paid jobs, which was playing piano and organ for weddings and funerals.

Magic Love Crow said...

That is so brilliant and exciting! Good for you!

Empty Nest Insider said...

I'm impressed that you had such a demanding job when you were only 15, and that you managed to save enough money for college! You had a very strong work ethic, which has clearly shaped the wonderful person you are today.

Julie

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

To learn such specialized skills at only 15 - amazing. You were a very mature, responsible teen. At 48.8 years old, I still often find myself standing around and doing nothing. Glad you had that training.

Happy weekend, Deb.

Fundy Blue said...

You learned some great lessons, Debra! What an excellent boss! And I just had my heart warmed by your funny, oh so Canadian, Jets and Timmies posts!

Rommy said...

Sounds like he was a fair man who taught you an awful lot. It's wonderful you had such a good experience.

Kamyria said...

Awesome post. My first job was also in the medical field. I was opening bottles with expired medications and flushing them down the tub... somewhere on the hospital premises... lol There was several of us students hired at that time and I remember having a lot of fun. We made friends with medical personnel and we were even given some tours of parts of the hospital. It was a temporary job during a winter school break for about two weeks.

Magaly Guerrero said...

Just so you know, that damn picture nearly gave me a heart attack. No idea why. I'm not squeamish... weird.

Yay! for gathering you-won't-rip-my-teeth-and-my-wallet experience. As a young beauty salon sweeper, I only collected gossip. Some where rather valuable though. :-D

psychelyn said...

Wow that job required a big responsibility from a 15 year old. But that's how we learn. I must say it was indeed a very good experience especially on the part of always finding something to do.

Elsie Amata said...

He created a great work ethic in you. I always say, "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean"

Riot Kitty said...

Interesting, my first real job (the one I stayed in - not the calling people who had penile implant surgery, which I could only hack for two weeks) was at a dentist's office as well. I mainly did filing...and more filing...and more filing. And to this day I still know that having a job which is occasionally stressful is much better than being bored.

Birdie said...

That is a a lot of responsibility for a 15 year old. I doubt most 15 year olds today would be able to do it.

The Happy Whisk said...

I dislike the padding thing. Drives me nuts.

Thanks for sharing :-)