Other than bottles of Mountain Dew and a handful of cassette tapes, I’m not sure what I spent my first paychecks on. It was probably something both exciting and important, like a new sparkly banana clip.

Regardless of where the money went, I definitely remember how excited I was to start earning it. Those middle school days of babysitting and assisting a local photographer (and friend of my parents) introduced me to the world of making money. And even at that young age, I equated having my own money with freedom and independence.

That’s why, being the independent young woman I was, my top priority for my first summer after turning sixteen was to find a “real” fill-out-a-timesheet and get-an-actual-check job. I remember my mom’s rules for that first job hunt: no gas stations or video stores. (Looking back, that was pretty good advice.) She had no need to worry, though, because I found a job that fit me perfectly: working at the local library.

I’m pretty sure you won’t be shocked to learn that I was a nerd even back then. I’ve always loved to read, I treasure my spelling bees medals to this day, and by the time I graduated high school, I was captain of the academic team. I know.

Working as a library page was a great fit for me in so many ways. My main job was to put returned books back on the shelves, which meant I got to do two things I love: put things in order and snag the best books before they went back into circulation! Unfortunately, working in a library – especially for the bottom-of-the-rung pages – was not exactly conducive to my tendency to talk (a lot).

Eventually, my school schedule got too intense to maintain a part-time job (and I couldn’t handle getting in trouble for talking one more time), and I resigned from my job at the library.

But to this day, I love the library. Last week, I was there three times. I am a pro at finding and reserving books online and on days my library’s self checkout isn’t malfunctioning (so, you know, about half the time), I can be in and out of the library in mere minutes, leaving with a stack of books in hand and a nerdy smile on my face.

I’ve had a lot (a LOT) of jobs since then, but the library will always hold a special place in my heart. What was YOUR first job? Does it hold a special place in your heart – or were you glad to see the last of that place?

By the way, that photo up there is of the Kansas City Public Library’s downtown parking garage. Every time I’m downtown, I try to drive by it – even if I have to go several blocks out of my way – just because I think it’s so cool. And, yes, I realize that says something about my own level of coolness. But, look! Giant books!

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