Archives for category: MY FIRST JOB

My First Boss
by Mary McCarthy

Wasn’t in the office much
always out at meetings
doing the glad hand
having coffee
networking with other
men in suits.
But he insisted
the office air conditioner
be kept on high.
His secretary and I
said nothing
wore sweaters
kept typing.

He thought it was OK to ask
what I was wearing
under my dress.
OK to take credit
for what we did
at our desks all day
the fliers
the mailings
the contacts and reports.

His secretary complained.
And they fired her.

Last month I saw his
calling him a good
family man
church member
who lived 90 years
and would be missed.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The photo was taken that summer. In one of the dresses the boss wondered about.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first real job, in an office in the downtown YMCA, opened my world in dramatic ways. Used to being part of a group (of classmates, of siblings, of friends) I was suddenly on my own in a new environment, with new rules, new expectations, and new freedoms. It was an exciting, even magical time for me.

mary-m1ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. Her work has appeared in many online and print journals, including Earth’s Daughters, Gnarled Oak, Third Wednesday, and Three Elements Review. Her echapbook Things I Was Told Not To Think About is available through Praxis magazine online as a free download. .She is grateful for the wonderful online communities of writers and poets sharing their work and passion for writing, providing a rich world of inspiration, appreciation, and delight.

Thank you to the 105  authors — from 25 states and 13 countries — who participated in our MY FIRST JOB Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from May 7 through July 4, 2017. Many thanks to the following authors for sharing stories and poems about their fledgling days in the workforce!

Elisa Adams (New York)
Elizabeth Alford (California)
Allen Ashley (England)
Ginger Beck (Arkansas)
Nina Bennett (Deleware)
Kerry E.B. Black (Pennsylvania)
Shelly Blankman (Maryland)
Steve Bogdaniec (Illinois)
Janet Bowdan (Massachusetts)
Jayne Buckland (England)
Karyl Carmignani (California)
John Carney (Pennsylvania)
Allison Carvalho (Illinois)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Ava C. Cipri (Pennsylvania)
Wanda Clevenger (Illinois)
Marion Deutsche Cohen (Pennsylvania)
Joan Colby (Illinois)
Patricia Coleman (New York)
Clive Collins (Japan)
Dan Coxon (England)
Neil Creighton (Australia)
Barbara Crooker (Pennsylvania)
Linda Crosfield (Canada)
Bruce Louis Dodson (Sweden)
Meg Eden (Maryland)
Amanda Eifert (Canada)
Barbara Eknoian (California)
Jeanne Ellin (England)
Ellen Evans (Rhode Island)
Vern Fein (Illinois)
Melissa Ford Thornton (Alabama)
Vincent Francone (Illinois)
Jeri Frederickson (Illinois)
Susanna Fussenegger (Pennsylvania)
Martina R. Gallegos (California)
Brad G. Garber (Oregon)
Anuja Ghimire (Nepal)
Susan W. Goldstein (Florida)
Vince Gotera (Iowa)
Vijaya Gowrisankar (India)
Vicki M. Grey (Pennsylvania)
John Hardic (Pennsylvania)
Oz Hardwick (England)
Lynn-Marie Harper (England)
Richard Harries (England)
Jennifer Hernandez (Massachusetts)
Sabrina Hicks (Arizona)
Elizabeth Hilts (Connecticut)
Stephen Howarth (England)
Mathias Jansson (Sweden)
Joseph Johnston (Michigan)
Derek Kannemeyer (Virginia)
Phyllis Klein (California)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Kathleen A. Lawrence (New York)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Joseph Lisowski (Virginia)
Rick Lupert (California)
Marjorie Maddox (Pennsylvania)
Tamara Madison (California)
Betsy Mars (California)
Carolyn Martin (Oregon)
Mary McCarthy (Florida)
Janet McGinness (New Jersey)
Linda McKenney (New York)
Bob McNeil (New York)
Terri Miller (Florida)
Penelope Moffet (California)
Alice Morris (Delaware)
Leah Mueller (Washington)
Lylanne Musselman (Indiana)
Paul Nebenzahl (Illinois)
Robbi Nester (California)
Maria Nestorides (Cyprus)
Petros Papadapoulos (Greece)
Alan Pattison (England)
Candace Pearson (California)
Tim Phillipart (Michigan)
Sandi Phillips (England)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Luisa Kay Reyes (Alabama)
Jim Ross (Maryland)
Alexis Rotella (Maryland)
d.r. sanchez (Pennsylvania)
Karen Sawyer (Texas)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Annette Skade (Ireland)
Gary Smillie (England)
J.L. Smith (Maryland)
Jo Taylor (Georgia)
G. Murray Thomas (California)
Angela Treviño (Illinois)
Vincent Van Ross (India)
Lynne Viti (Massachusetts)
Daniel Wade (Ireland)
Alan Walowitz (New York)
Mercedes Webb-Pullman (New Zealand)
Steve Werkmeister (Kansas)
Kelley White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Lin Whitehouse (England)
Adjoa Wiredu (England)
Jonathan Yungkans (California)
Joanie HF Zosike (New York)

PHOTO: Welder at boat and submarine building yard, 1943 (Bernard Hoffman, LIFE Magazine).

In formation
by Angela L. Treviño

We stand; eyes forward, above the sea
of heads and hair. Bodies as stiff
and motionless as the mannequins
that stand beside us. We are dressed
in all black, ready for our orders.
One of our generals steps out from
the line and faces us; eyes focused.

He lifts his arms to gather our attention.
We put our focus on his extended arms
as they stretch out to the ceiling.
He mouths “One, Two, Three.”
before gently flicking his wrists.
In unison we open our mouths;
our voices blend together
in synchronization.

Our bodies follow the melody,
engrained in our minds from hours
of training. Two sergeants emerged
from our dance line to sing their solos
before gracefully sliding back
into formation. The general
continues to signal orders
as we march and sing.

When the end of the war came
we froze in triumphant victory
as people clapped and cheered.
for our victory. The general lowered
one of his arms and tucked it behind
his back; he turned to the crowd and
bowed. With a flick of his wrist
we bowed together in formation
before making our way back to the base
to begin training once again.

IMAGE: “Dancers” bt Erte (1892-1990).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Before I began my journey as a writer, I was a vocalist for two years. I remembered my very first performance. I was so scared that I would mess up the choreography or do something wrong. My instructors were strict. We had to practice standing still, posing, smiling, breathing, silence, and everything above. But once we finished I felt a sense of relief and accomplishment. Over time, it became natural. We were a force to be reckoned with; similar to the military.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is one of the performances I had to do in 2013. This was around my second year performing. We always had to wear these long black gowns for all our performances. I was a senior at the time.

TrevinoABOUT THE AUTHOR: Angela L. Treviño is a student at Aurora University studying English. She also is minoring in Latino Studies, Political Science, and American Sign Language. She invests her time in improving her writing. She loves to write most of her poems in Spanglish, a hybrid of both English and Spanish. She has a goal of publishing a poetry book before she graduates from college in Spring 2018.

johns 1960
by Joanie HF Zosike

Uncle Sid and Aunt Lily had a Mom and Pop shop
that they birthed in their garage in 1964 (though it felt
like the 50s) — the slow economy was soon to go BOOM!

In my uncle’s garage, there were big machines that engraved
metal and plexi, and those that printed on khaki and canvas
Not an inch left to park the cars or store ephemera and toys

But times they were a-changin’; troubles were a-boilin’;
the captains of industry wooed the five-star generals;
presidents and pawns came to join the festivities, too

Soon Uncle Sid and Aunt Lily were toasting the local Police,
the Civil Air Patrol and the ROTC, in their shiny new store
They served cheap champagne and signed on the dotted line

Whether contracts for uniforms for nurses or new draftees,
they had ’em in stock. Be it senior exec or boot camp sarge,
they’d engrave a custom nameplate to decorate that desk

This is where I came in, almost 16, growing up, lusting for
pocket change. Sid and Lily had just fired their girl for pilfering
and being too slutty. They needed nice help at the family store

I worked through summer, learning to operate the machines
When autumn came, I agreed to work after school. I knew what
to do. Meanwhile, slightly older boys mastered other machines

I began to march against the growing draft and curse about the
U.S. role in Vietnam, worried for my friends’ endangerment
I would go to work and fill orders, print nameplates and patches

Anderson, Aragon, Buxbaum, Baxter, Conroy, Dunn and Eisner
Farraday, Flores, Gold and Gomez, Harrison, Ikeda and Jordan
Kalama, Lipschitz, Mayuma, Norris, Orbison, Pines and Quincy

Then the R’s, the S’s, the T’s, the U’s and X-Y-Z’s in abundance
As I printed, I saw the young faces; I saw their bravery and their
fear; their unwillingness or full complicity, but mostly, I saw blood

IMAGE: “Order and Disorder” by Jasper Johns (1960).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first job was as odious as it is memorable. The strands that transformed the thinking of American youth during the late 60s and early 70s are woven through this poem. It was a time when we were happy; it was a time when we were miserable. It was a time when young people were certain; and everyone else seemed confused. But it was not a time of mental chaos. It was a time of fundamental change. What ethics and goodness we have maintained from those times to the present is, alas, more difficult to measure.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR; Joanie HF Zosike’s poetry most recently appears in the publication 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy, Eds. Casey Lawrence and William D. Dickerson, released on May 26, 2017. She is a frequent contributor to  the Silver Birch Press blog as well as other pubs, including Bastille, Heresies, Levure Literraire, and Rabbit and Rose. Her work is also featured in Silver Birch Press anthologies: Alice in Wonderland, Ides, Noir, Summer, and The Great Gatsby. Joanie is a writer, actor, singer, director, workshop facilitator, caregiver ,and activist living in New York City and Manchester, New Jersey.

johns 1959
A world of theorems and formulae
by Vijaya Gowrisankar

“This sum is so hard.” I heard my friends groan. I looked
at them and shook my head. “Once you understand the
technique, it is really simple,” I said. Maths and I were best
pals; she understood me and I understood her, like no other

It all started with explaining how to solve the Maths problems
to my friends, my classmates. I needed assistance for Hindi and
I offered my services as a Maths teacher to her son, instead of
tuition fees. It started as a mutual understanding, a need

Before I knew it, I was spending time teaching Maths to those who
struggled with it. I was always surrounded by kids, even at lunch,
those in the same class and junior to me. The joy when they solved
each problem and the struggle to explain to those who refused to listen

I learnt to tailor my explanations depending on the calibre of each student
For the weaker ones, I explained easier techniques. For those who just
needed a push and were sharp, I taught them the tricks of revision. I told
them to attempt the simpler sums, and prepared pages of sums to practice

IMAGE: “Numbers in Color” by Jasper Johns (1958-59).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A major surgery in class 7 left me with a weak nervous system. This meant I stammered badly when I tried to talk. My self-confidence was at its lowest low. I felt at peace when I did Maths. I loved Maths and “She” loved me in return. Surprisingly, I stammered less when I was explaining Maths or talking to Maths. That love for Maths opened the opportunity and for a long time, that was my first job. I taught Maths to children for years.


Vijaya Gowrisankar
‘s fourth book of poems, Savour –Art and Poetry Meet, was published on April 30, 2017. Her first three books of poems, ExploreReflectand Inspire, are all bestsellers. Her submissions have been published in Silver Birch Press, Nancy Drew Anthology, Poetry Marathon 2016 Anthology, Sometimes Anyway: Pride in Poetry Volume II, Forwardian, Triadae Magazine, iWrite India, Dystenium Online, and Taj Mahal Review anthologies. She has appeared as guest speaker in colleges. A participant in the Poetry Marathon 2016 (24 poems in 24 hours, 1 poem per hour), she has reviewed and edited poetry and fiction books. She participated in NaNoWriMo 2016 and completed her first novel in November 2016. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Visit her blog at

An Apprentice at Work
by Vincent Van Ross

I never thought
Of my first job
As a job
When I took it up,
I did not know
What to do
Or how to do it

I learnt
My accounting work
By and by
Through guidance
From my superiors,
Of my fellow workers,
And, my own patience
Which I lacked
In good measure!

My first job
Was never
A job for me —
It was a training centre

All that I had learnt
Until then was theory
This was the first time
I was putting my knowledge
To practice
It was a great learning experience

I had learnt
About cash transactions,
Bank transactions
And adjustment entries
In my class
But it was here
That I learnt
To write the cash book,
The bank book
And the journal

I learnt to post
These entries
Into ledgers,
Prepare the trial balance,
The profit and loss account
And, the balance sheet

In those days
There was nothing
Called the MIS
Or, Management Information System —
This was the MIS

Because of my keen interest
In the job
And anxiousness to learn,
The management
Recommended me
For training
In their Administration Department
As well

During the entire term
Of my first job,
I never thought
Of myself
As an employee,
I looked at myself
As a trainee

In fact,
I was an apprentice
At work!

IMAGE: “0 through 9” by Jasper Johns (1961).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I look at my first job and all the other jobs I did after that, I find a striking difference. Though life is a constant learning process, my first job was a threshold when my education was put to practical use for the first time. It was a great learning experience. Theory and practice and two different worlds.  That was my experience and that is what I have tried to highlight through my poem.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vincent Van Ross  is a journalist and editor based at New Delhi in India.  He writes on national and international politics, defence, environment, travel, spirituality, and scores of other topics.  Apart from this, he dabbles in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and humorous writings. His articles and features have appeared in over a dozen newspapers and magazines in India and Bangladesh.  He is also a renowned photographer and an art critic. His poems are littered in anthologies and journals across the world and on numerous poetry sites and facebook groups on the web.


Hot Fudge Sauce
by Susan W. Goldstein

One of my least favorite, between college semester jobs, was in an ice cream shop . . . excuse me: Shoppe. The owner was a dirty old man who would pinch my butt whenever I was leaning in to scoop from the drums of hard-as-rock ice cream. I was too shocked to say anything, but I am certain that he lost money that summer, as I ate most of the profits when he wasn’t looking. (I mean, have you tried rum raisin with hot fudge sauce?)

One incident evolved into a long-standing family joke. A customer was trying to be helpful, as she pointed out that I had a big drip of hot fudge sauce on my collar bone. I looked down and didn’t see anything, so she pointed. And I began to laugh! It was a beauty mark that would forever be called my “hot fudge sauce.”

I did not return to this store the following summer. Instead, I sought employment at the Weed Pizza Parlor, its unofficial name. At night, after closing, the manager would make pizza that was covered, not in oregano, but in non-medicinal marijuana. I was still a naïf, and would run home to my parents and report what those wild and wicked kids were doing. My folks just advised me to keep working during the day, because summer was almost over and I guess that my mom didn’t want my whiney little self hanging around.

IMAGE: “Hot Fudge Sundae” by Sandy Tracey. Prints available at

 NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I don’t know why I took these crummy minimum wage jobs, instead of applying for internships or something useful. Perhaps I knew back then that I would one day need to draw from each of these experiences to fuel my writing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan W. Goldstein is Livin’ la Vida Loca in Delray Beach, Florida — if you define such as a sensible bedtime and early rising to begin typing away on her little laptop. She has been proudly published in Mothers Always Write, Silver Birch Press, Mamalode, Medium, and JustBe Parenting, Lunch Box (Issue 11: Summer/Fall 2017 ), and is a winner of Hyland’s “A Mother Knows” campaign. Coming up later this month:  Sammiches & Psych Meds.  Follow her blog, at

Retail — From the Inside
by Joan Leotta

Shopping was my hobby.
So when at 16, I wanted summer
retail seemed perfect.
Downtown department stores
were not hiring, so
my Aunt Helen convinced
the owner of her favorite
East Liberty dress shop.
to give me Saturday hours.
I imagined myself
an instant fashion expert,
coolly, enhancing women’s looks
with wise suggestions.
My first Saturday I was
hidden in the stockroom
hanging a new shipment
by size, by color. Hot.
“May I help you?”
I practiced, as I shook out blouses,
skirts, dresses.
Second Saturday saw me selling.
The first woman, slim, young,
asked “blue shirtwaist dress in
size ten, please.”
I plucked it from the rack,
showed her to the dressing room.
In minutes, my first sale!
Ringing it up on the old
register the change came out wrong — twice..
My next fashion seeker
was middle-aged,
a bit chubby. She marched to
the dressing room and told me to
bring her skirts and blouses
in size twelve — my choices!
Proudly, I selected tailored items
she promptly rejected.
“Yooo hoo,” she called, “I want smaller sizes,
and don’t you have anything newer, cuter?
She tossed her discards over the door for
me to turn right-side out and rehang.
At last she opened the dressing room door
to model an A-line skirt and ladybug blouse —
high school clothes!
“Well, how do I look?”
I gulped. Sausage came to mind.
Florid face clashing with floral shirt.
“Wouldn’t you rather . . . ” I began
The owner stepped up.
“It’s a lovely outfit.”
The woman bought the ensemble.
Before Saturday rolled around again,
the owner called my Aunt. “We are not busy
enough to have your niece come in anymore.”
I didn’t really mind.
Shopping was not as much fun
from ” inside.” And,
ever since that job,
I never ask a sales person
to tell me how I look.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This me a couple of years after the events in the poem. My sense of fashion was not nearly as developed as I then thought it was!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What to consider a “first” job? That was hard to decide. Would I consider as “first” a job my job as a clerk in a dress shop in the summer? Or my work shelving records in the college radio station? Or my summer sojourn in the planning department at the University of Pittsburgh between my first and second years of graduate school, a fun internship that gave me experience and a killer recipe for egg roll? I decided to go with chronological order and share with you why I decided not to remain in the retail world.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood in Pittsburgh. She is a writer and story performer. Her poetry and essays appear or are forthcoming in Gnarled Oakthe A-3 Review, Hobart Literary ReviewSilver Birch, Peacock,Postcard Poems and Prose among others. Her first poetry chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, was recently released by Finishing Line Press. She also has written a series of novels, Legacy of Honor, and a set of four picture books, Rosa’s Shell is the latest. A group of her short stories, Simply a Smile is available in paper and on Kindle. You can find more about her work on her blog at, follow her on twitter @beachwriter12 or on Facebook at Joan Leotta, Author and Story Performer.


Miss Humphrey
by Leslie Sittner

She was tall, broad, quietly forceful. Mostly intimidating. And, as a 17-year-old, I thought, ancient, uncool, and wore dreadful sensible shoes. Definitely not fashionable. I was a freshman at Cornell in the early1960s in the College of Human Ecology. She was the stern taskmaster of the Textiles and Clothing Department.

But I loved the classes she taught. I learned plenty and performed well.

Junior year she invited me to her home for tea. By myself. Nervous? Absolutely. To my surprise she didn’t seem so very old; she was charming. And funny.

After graduating, moving to New Your City, and beginning my first professional fashion designer job, she invited me to return and lecture on my “design experience” in the Big Apple. She was impressed that I, as a children’s sleepwear designer, had several full page ads in the New York Times featuring my creations. I felt like a successful graduate and creative person!

Apparently the lecture was worthwhile because soon she notified me that she’d be coming to the City to visit me at my job. The company was located in the famous Little Singer (sewing machine!) Building on lower Broadway. It’s a magnificent edifice that enjoys landmark status. Even the elevator was remarkable.

When Miss Humphrey arrived at our fifth floor, she was slightly rattled, slightly disheveled, slightly tongue-tied. It was a Friday, payday, and we hadn’t yet been informed that there’d been an armed robbery in the building. She casually mentioned that the elevator exhibited telltale blood spatter. She matter-of-factly related the lobby-police-elevator experience. Then requested to meet my boss and see my design room. Just like that. And here I thought I was the blasé cool city girl.

Suddenly this tough gracious woman wasn’t ancient or uncool; I cared not a whit that she wasn’t fashionable.

IMAGE: Little Singer Building, 561 Broadway, New York City.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As hip1960’s students, we weren’t necessarily kind when discussing Miss Humphrey the Spinster. It was only hindsight that made us appreciate all she’d had to offer us. Most of us went on to successful careers in some field or another.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner has been turning to the written word as a form of self-expression and reflection. Her stories are available in print in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press, and will be featured in Adirondack Life magazine. On-line prose can be seen at 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, 50 Word Stories as well as many selections of prose and poetry at Silver Birch Press. She has finished a memoir about travels with her ex-husband and hopes a publisher will find it as humorous as she and her writer-friends do.

Oh Dear
by Sandy Phillips

I was fifteen, needed some cash.
A woman approached a group of us girls,
“Anyone interested in a bit of babysitting?”
I responded, and the job was mine.
Just a couple of hours between one parent going out,
The other, getting home. It suited me.
Not every day, but different days, the husband
Would walk to my house to tell me when.
The toddler, was a chubby little lad, smiling, trusting.
I would play peek-a-boo, sing nursery rhymes, or
Just watched him with his toys, then put him to bed.
One day he just wouldn’t go. He cried and cried,
Hit the wall with his head. Alarmed I told his mother,
“Take no notice, he’ll stop,” I found this hard.
On nights he slept, I listened to records,
Mostly classical, some made me cry, don’t know why.
I read a book of theirs about Jack Dempsey, a boxer.
Not my usual reading matter, it was just laying about.
I took my boyfriend there when I didn’t receive information
Early enough and I had already arranged to meet him.
(No mobile phones in those days of 1955)
When she told me I couldn’t, I said I needed more notice.
She replied that her husband informed me five days ago.
I said, no it was yesterday. It came about
That he was having an affair. I left.

IMAGE: “Woman and Child” by Pablo Picasso (1922).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In writing this piece about My first job, I had a longer story in mind, but thought it would not capture the reader written in that way. I therefore aimed to relate the story in sharper groups of words.

sandy phillips

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sandy Phillips, a retired teacher, has written her first book, The Narrow Doorway, about the psychic experiences she has encountered throughout her life. She has written an article for the Psychic News published last year and will have another in the Two Worlds in the near future. She also writes essays, stories and poetry. Another major interest is painting and the arts. She has had exhibitions of her own and has participated in many. She once had a sculpture accepted by the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.