Tag Archives: Teenage employment

That’s Why They Call It “Work”

My 1st job — as soon as I turned 16 — was at Chubby Lane’s.

I wore dorky blue shorts and knee socks.  I got french fry grease all over my already-greasy teenage face.

I learned that when Chubby’s kids wanted a cheeseburger at 8 p.m. — right after we cleaned the grill — they got it.

I thought of my days at Chubby’s — and other jobs I had in high school and college, like working at Longshore, and Singing Oaks day camp — the other day.

The reason I thought of that long-ago employment was because I saw a Westport teenager working in a downtown store.

Suddenly it hit me:  Most kids around here don’t have jobs these days.

The reasons are many.  Some legitimate; others, well…

A sight you won't see in Westport.

For example, school is far tougher than when I was at Staples.  Classes are harder, and there are more of them.  Homework is more intensive.  Grades count for more.

Colleges demand more in terms of extracurricular activities and community service.  Athletes play their sports out of season, as well as in it.  Artists and musicians have many more outlets for their creativity.

With fewer teenagers working, there’s less peer pressure to get a job.  If you don’t see your friends — or older siblings — working, there’s less chance you’ll want to yourself.

Parents no longer ask their kids to pay for movies, gas, clothes, whatever.

Our economic implosion has put top-down pressure on the workforce.  Men and women now fill jobs once held by boys and girls (even if those youngsters came from Norwalk and Bridgeport, not Westport).

There are many more options for teenagers’ leisure time.  They can play video games, watch movies on their laptops, texttexttexttexttext.

And hey, let’s face it:  Work is work.

I can’t remember why my 16-year-old self was so excited to get that job at Chubby’s.  I don’t recall wondering whether I should work or not; it was simply a rite of passage.  I do remember how independent I felt getting my “working papers,” my training, my 1st paycheck.
Today’s teenagers work, for sure.  They work incredibly hard — and I am a huge fan of Westport’s youth.

Besides all they do in school, after school and volunteering in the community, they babysit, tutor and give computer lessons.  Others help out in offices.

But very, very few work in stores and restaurants.  Westport kids don’t work at places like CVS, Planet Pizza or gas stations.  Which is why seeing one behind a counter downtown was remarkable enough that I could write an entire story about it.