CHS Teachers Before CHS

Marci Harris
At the age of 13, Marci Harris, CHS French teacher, got her first official job as a caddy at the Birmingham Country Club. Harris wanted the job because her friends also did it but admittedly, she didn’t know a single thing about golf. While the job required training beforehand, Harris acknowledges that she wasn’t paying enough attention during the training sessions.
Harris remembers her first day on the job, as she was out and about the links, serving as a caddy to an older gentleman. Throughout the day, Harris was carrying the man’s bag, full of various clubs and as they trudged along the course, Harris was exhausted by the sheer weight of the bag. The man offered her to sit down and rest on the back of his golf cart, which Harris graciously accepted. As the day came to a close, it’s customary for the golfer to give their caddy a tip, a token of appreciation that the service was exemplary.
However, Harris did not get the ending she expected. Empty-handed, she went up to the man, believing it was a mistake. After being told that Harris never gave him the correct clubs and sat on the back of his cart, it was clear that she wasn’t getting a tip from the start.
“He was like, ‘you weren’t a real caddy, you don’t get a tip,’” Harris said. “And I was horrified.”
After complaining to her boss, Harris was told that caddying wasn’t the job for her. Harris was fired on her very first day, only working one day and one shift.
“They dismissed me and [never] put me on the schedule ever again,” Harris said. “It was a tragedy.”
Shortly after her caddy catastrophe, Harris felt that even though she knew little to nothing about golf, she might as well have pretended she knew more about golf. Harris was embarrassed about being fired her first day but also felt relief about never having to be back on the course again, recalling how boring and tiring it was to carry a golf bag for hours in the hot, blazing sun. Harris would later find jobs at other establishments like Swenson’s, Pizza Hut and Unos — all far away from the golf course.
Looking back at all of the jobs Harris had, she mentions that the best thing to be recognized as a stellar worker is to be on time and have a good work ethic.
“Don’t be a slacker,” Harris said. “When it’s your first job, they become a reference for later jobs.”
In addition to showing up on time, Harris believes that friendship is one of the most important aspects of a job and creating close connections with your co-workers is priceless.

Christia West

All throughout high school and college, Christia West, CHS FOS teacher, worked at a sailboat marina, given that she had grown up sailing. West’s funniest story begins on her first day on the job. West’s boss told her that she had to get in a chair on a crane and go up to the top of a mast. Positive that West wouldn’t dare to do it because she would be ‘scared,’ West nonchalantly agreed. As he was lowering West down, he swung her out over the water, as if he was going to lure her into the water.
“I just sat there and glared at him and I said, ‘If you get me wet, you’re going to be in trouble,’” West said.
Unphased, he continued lowering West down as she gave him a glare. Inches away from the water, he dipped her toes and lifted her back up. Days like those were fun and laid back as West worked at the marina for a couple of summers in a row, heavily involved in the culture surrounding sailing and boats. West knew everyone she worked with after being a crew member on their local Wednesday night sailboat races. Even though West knew her boss and co-workers closely, she encourages people to ask around and see who’s looking for hires.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to people,” West said. “When you put in an application, you have to use the telephone and call and follow up.”
Admitting that it may be difficult for people to follow up, West emphasizes that it’s the biggest thing because that’s gonna make you stand out.

Jeri Schneider
Jeri Schneider, CHS librarian, still has nightmares about her first job: waiting tables at Big Boy, a popular fast-casual restaurant.
Though she kept this waitress position for over two of her high school years, Schneider hated most days on the job. Because this Big Boy was in a mall, most customers were looking for a quick bite amid their shopping. Tips were slim, customers were impatient and the restaurant was constantly overrun, leaving teenage Schneider to manage the chaos.
In addition to the stress of managing food service in a mall, Schneider also dealt with harassment in the workplace. Though Schneider was friendly with most of her co-workers, there was one bus boy who frequently harassed the girls working with him.
“[He] liked to pinch the butts of the girls who worked there,” Schneider said. “He did it to me and I said, ‘don’t you ever do that to me again or I will get you fired.’ He left me alone after that.”
Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace was even more common at the time and this perpetrator was not fired.
Despite all of the aforementioned waitressing horrors, Schneider’s nightmares mainly center around one fateful Sunday morning shift.
Schneider arrived to work to find the restaurant packed as usual. This particular morning, Schneider was waiting on a very large table. When the 12-person pancake order was finally ready, she came out of the kitchen, balancing the large tray of pancakes as best she could.
This is when disaster struck. Scheider slipped, dropping the entire tray of food in the middle of Big Boy.
“To make things worse, that was the last of the pancake batter,” Schneider said. “It’s totally the kind of thing I can laugh at now. However, in the moment I was horrified. I hated it. I probably cried. I had ruined everything and the guy didn’t even get his pancakes.”
The incidents that occurred during Schneider’s first high school job, have still not completely abandoned her.
“Once in a while, I have a dream that I am going to work a Big Boy [shift],” Schneider said. “Things [would] just go horribly wrong and I couldn’t quite do anything right.”
Schneider acknowledges that your first job will likely not be your best job. She does, however, emphasize the importance of having that professional experience early on.
“You might make friends or other [professional] connections,” Schneider said. “Even if it might not be something you love doing, you never know where it will lead you.”