The past year has been a turning point for my 14 year old. He has become confident, reliable and concerned about his school work. With this maturity came his desire to work part-time but, for most 14 year olds, finding that first job seems like a next-to-impossible task. Just how to you build a resume and convince the person hiring you that you are the right person for the job when, aside from a part-time babysitting gig, you have never worked? Well, somehow, my son, whom I will call Junior, applied for some seasonal work, got hired and is bringing home a cozy little paycheque. As his parent (aka his designated driver to and from work), I couldn’t be prouder.
Aside from dealing with the potty mouth that a 14 year old boy acquires when he is working with a group of men, a downfall of working teens is you have to plan your evenings around their drop-off and pick-up times. To add an extra twist into scheduling, their pick-up times can change at a moment’s notice. “Please, be here in 30 minutes” or “Can you pick me up at 8:45 (instead of 10:00)?” or some similar message are often sent – and usually when I have something else that needs to be done. Regardless, I drop everything and head out. As his parent, that is my job.
Last night’s message, though, was unbelievable. “Pick up now.” What? There is no way. At best, work is normally a 25 minute trip away but last night, it was pouring (20 mm over 12 hours) and driving conditions were horrendous. “On my way,” I replied and headed out. When I got there, I sent the usual “here.”
I saw Junior peek out the window and waited. Someone’s more than obnoxious car alarm went off and I ignored it, burying my head back into my Instagram feed. Then I looked up again. Whose car alarm was that anyway? Then it dawned on me: Junior set off the alarm in the shop!
He sent me this quiet little wave for help. You don’t need to be shy about this, kiddo! I think everyone around knows it was you. I ran over to him but, the reality was, there was nothing that I could do. He tried to phone his supervisor. No answer. He texted him. No reply. I watched helplessly as he went through the alarm settings trying to turn it off. “Wait! I’ll get my glasses!” Eyes rolled back as I ran back to the car to get my glasses, only so that I had something to do because, unless those glasses had some kind of magical power that I didn’t know about, we would still be stuck with the shrieking alarm when I got back. And we were. Junior called Security on a two-way radio. No answer. I started to scroll through the alarm settings, aimlessly trying to help and stopped when I saw “Fire Alarm.”
“No, Mom!” he yelled. “We don’t need the fire department here too!” He was shaking. What were we going to do? How do we fix this?
I yelled back, “We probably already set it off but can’t hear that alarm because the security alarm is so frickin’ loud!”
We felt absolutely lost. Junior tried to call his supervisor and security again. He sent a message and heard two voices. “Do you want me to run over there?” was followed by a stern “Under no circumstances are you to go there. We have no idea what kind of threat there is.”
Fantastic. Junior always has been a force to be reckoned with but this was the first time he was called a threat. Were the police on the way? Junior repeated the message and, then, there was silence, not a true silence, but the quiet from the alarm being shut off and a remaining buzzing in our heads. Finally. Security was on the way. We waited until they arrived, which seemed like hours, but was probably only a few minutes.
As it turned out, being a particularly quiet Friday night, they closed up shop early but no one wanted to wait with Junior. Instead, he was shown how to lock up and he did he was supposed to – turn off the lights, turn on the system, lock the door. Setting off the alarm? Let’s call it “going above and beyond.”
The night was not a loss. On the way home, I told him that his first job disaster was way better than his brother’s, who broke a large vase when he was asked to close up one night. In fact, I think that Junior now owns the story of the year. On top of that, he is now is now buds with the security guard, which is always a good thing. And Junior has bragging rights; he is now considered to be a “known threat.” We’re still waiting for a new nickname (I am guessing “Alarm Boy”) to be handed out when he shows up for his next shift. Fortunately, he is opening, not closing.