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Teens opt for paydays instead of play days

By Times Staff
Published July 3, 2006


After the ringing of the bell signaling the end of the school year, many teens head from the classroom to the workplace. They flood their favorite places with applications, hoping to snag a fun job where they can make lots of money. For some, the search turns out perfectly. The rest are left with jobs they can learn to love or at least tolerate. They're saving for college, cars and clothes as they serve food, mow lawns, dish up ice cream and perform other services to earn a revenue stream independent of their parents. The Times asked a few teens working for the first time how things were going. Responses varied, but one thing is for sure, these kids are working toward more than summer's end. - ROBBYN MITCHELL

KELLEY SIMPSON, 16 of St. Petersburg, is in the business of saving lives at North Shore Pool. The St. Petersburg High student commutes everyday from her Shore Acres home to work with friends as a lifeguard.

Why lifeguarding? It's just always something I'd wanted to do ever since I was little. The job just looked cool to me.

How are you spending your paycheck? I'm doing pretty good this week because all of it made it to the bank - it kind of had to. But normally clothes and food and stuff.

What's the worst part of your job? All the sun damage that is going to happen to my skin from being outside all day.

How does working compare to school? I think it's easier because it's just much more enjoyable than going to class.

Has working made you have more empathy or respect for your parents? Yeah. Sure. Well, it was their idea for me to get this job and they made me do it I guess to teach me a lesson.

- ROBBYN MITCHELL

Rachel Whitehead, 18, of Tampa is a Gwazi ride operator at Busch Gardens. She's thrilled with her job, which includes making sure riders are at least 48 inches tall. She recently graduated from King High School and wants to be a psychologist.

Why Busch Gardens? I really love roller coasters, so I thought that it would be cool.

What's the worst part of your job? Probably dealing with some people that aren't very nice, like, sometimes when I'm at height stick, some people can get really annoyed when the lockers don't work and they get mad at me ... but that's part of the job and I have to deal with it.

What's the best part of your job? The people, my co-workers, and I like seeing all the kids, they really like the roller coasters, so that's cool too. Sometimes I get to test ride in the morning because they have to test ride it before (they open) so that's fun. I get in free whenever I want, but I haven't done that yet.

What have you learned so far? I've learned how to be patient with people that aren't very nice sometimes.

Has working made you have more empathy or respect for your parents? I have more respect for them and I have more respect for, like, how they make money and stuff too. I didn't realize how hard it was until now.

- ALDO NAHED

SAM CALARCO, 16 of Palm Harbor, is an aspiring architect with plans to attend Florida State University. This fall he will be a junior at Dunedin Academy, but in the meantime, he is washing golf carts for $7 an hour at the Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club in Clearwater.

How did you get this job? I applied five times for the job ... Oh, maybe two, three. Put two. I know a lot of people who go here. I play golf. Yeah, I'm good.

Why washing golf carts? Because it's easy to remember what to do. It's a good environment. And I know most of the people who work here.

How are you spending your paycheck? Skimboards. (Spells it.) They're like things that you, uh - throw 'em into the ocean and ride the waves on them, like a longboard. And the rest is going to college.

What's the worst part of your job? Being in the heat.

What have you learned so far? How to deal with customers better, I guess. My personality. Um, like I need to deal with people more than I did when I didn't have a job.

Has working made you have more empathy or respect for Mom and Dad? Yeah, because I'm not freeloading off my parents anymore.

- VANESSA DE LA TORRE

Elle Piloseno, 16 of Hyde Park is the youngest worker at Tampa's Indigo Coffee. This summer she's making money so she can buy the things she wants. In the fall she'll be an 11th grader at Tampa Preparatory School.

What's the worst part of your job? When 80 people come in and they all want hot drinks and there's only three steamers so we have to figure out how to get everybody's drink done on time. And then probably the regulars who I can't always remember what they want, so they get pretty mad at me. They look at me holding their money and I'm like, 'I'm sorry, please don't hate me, what's your drink?' (Laughs)

What's the best part of your job? The people that I work with ... They're just a lot of fun, they make work a lot more comfortable and a lot easier to do. Sadly, I don't get to hang out with them out of work because they are a lot older than me and they get to do adult stuff and I get to do little teenage stuff.

What have you learned so far? I learned how to make pretty much every coffee drink imaginable. And I've learned all the funny names for coffee drinks like "red eyes." Red eyes are like coffee with one shot of espresso. I didn't know that before I came here.

Has working made you have more empathy or respect for your parents? Kind of. I can understand definitely a lot more when my mom comes home and she doesn't want me to irritate her because she's had a long day .... But pretty much if I can handle it, they can handle it.

- ALDO NAHED

Marlee Malone, 17 of Largo, has the coolest job available for teens in the summer, literally. The Gibbs High student serves ice cream at Ben & Jerry's in Tyrone Square Mall.

Why Ben & Jerry's? Umm, I really like how socially conscious Ben & Jerry's is. They use all-natural products and recycled paper and they don't use any of the growth hormones in their milk products. I'm a vegetarian and I'm really conscious about what I put into my body so I really like what they stand for.

How are you spending your paycheck? I'm not. I'm saving for college. It's between Brown and UCLA.

What's the best part of your job? I have no idea. It's just all good.

Is this easier or harder than school? It depends. It's a lot more physical than school because I have to lift the big tubs of ice cream.

- ROBBYN MITCHELL

MORE PROFILES OF TEENS ON THE JOB, 7B

[Last modified July 3, 2006, 06:00:02]


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