High School Jobs


My primary high school job was waitressing. But I worked at a box store for 3 months before that. I was 16. I didn’t last long in retail because I’m really not a people person and I’m allergic to everything.

But three incidents in the space of a week, is what did me in on retail. I worked the floor, meaning I straightened stock on shelves and I was the person customers asked where things were. The first incident was a customer with a kid. She wanted help finding lotions. I took her to the lotions. I was assisting her with the purchase when her kid who was maybe 5 years old grabbed a bottle of lotion and dumped it on me. It was very fragrant. I almost immediately started getting a migraine. She wanted to stand there and talk to me about why it didn’t have a safety seal. Beats me, I don’t make lotion, I just work in this store. She starts yelling at me. I turned my head away mid-scolding and puked. I finally get a manager over to me and the manager told me to “just go home and don’t come to work sick ever again.” I was scheduled to work the next evening and I came in to find a formal reprimand in my file. I try to explain to the manager on duty what happened and she tells me I should no better than to come in sick. I explain again and she tells me scent triggered migraines aren’t a real thing.

That night, shift went mostly okay. I was annoyed, but whatever. I’m moved from my usual area to clothes. I had not been trained in clothes and I apparently can’t fold shirts correctly. I know because I was told that like six times. I went home when my shift ended.

The following day, schedules came out. Now I had requested the weekend off for a family trip to visit my grandparents, who I got to see like once every couple of years. I had followed the rules and put my request in 4 weeks in advance. It had been approved. I had double checked before schedules came out. But I was scheduled to work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I was talking to a coworker about how much it sucked that I had to come in and she said “you didn’t hear?” Didn’t hear what? One of our other coworkers had fallen and broken their arm, so my time off had been cancelled and I’d been put in to cover their shifts. I wasn’t happy, but shit happens.

I was straightening shampoo with my regular manager on the aisle with me because there was something wrong with the massive codes that got put out. Co-worker with the broken arm comes in, no cast, nothing, and tells me they lied about it because they’d had to clean up my vomit and this was my punishment. Our manager stood there and listened to this guy tell me this. It was like 6 pm, if I hurried home, I’d still make the trip to see my grandparents. So I asked, since he obviously isn’t hurt, can I go ahead and leave town with my family? I was told no. WTF?! I argued. I was told no again and told to drop it. I dropped it.

The following morning, I show up for my shift. Coworker who faked the broken arm is standing in my section and he reeks of cologne. I’m talking strong. He must have bathed in a gallon of it. The smell instantly begins to trigger a migraine. He begins following me around the store. I found the manager, explained about the migraines and asked her to let me go before it gets worse. She tells me I can go to urgent care, but she expects me back in less than 2 hours, with a doctor’s note.

It took me 3 hours at urgent care and I was so sick I had to get a ride from Urgent Care back to the store, but my family was out of town. So I called a friend of mine. She came and picked me up, I explain I have to go back to work and give them the damn doctor’s note. She takes me, I get car sick, because vertigo and migraines are great friends. I manage to mostly not throw up in her car. But in the process of getting my head out her window in time, I get it in my hair. So I am a mess when I get back to work. I have a note that says I have to be off for 24 hours to recover from the migraine and it explains that smells, especially flowery smells can and do trigger migraines.

I give the note to the manager. She tells me to go buy some ponytail holders and put my hair up since I have vomit it in and that I have to finish my shift. So I quit on the spot and walked out. And I will never work in retail again.

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