This ain’t Wal-Mart.

I’m pretty sure my parents fed, clothed, and gave me shelter as a kid just to make sure I was fit and able to work as free labor. When I was 10, my mom opened a costume jewelry shop in a swap meet. Her little store, part of a larger outfit named Community Mart (their slogan: “Bringing the Community Together“) sat in a seedy part of town, infested with gang violence and questionable fashion choices.

I worked as the stock girl. Sometimes, I served as the security detail, patrolling the perimeter of her store with my hands behind my back, making sure no one snuck a $1 nail polish into their pocket. I must have been intimidating-a 4’6” fanny-pack-clad 10-year-old, ready to put the smack down on any thief.

I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do if I did catch a thief in the act, and no one schooled me on the basics of a smack down, so really, I was just hoping every customer was on their best behavior. That way, I could do a half-hearted job and still walk away with a brand-new My Little Pony at the end of the week.

Then, Shirley walked in. There’s a high likelihood Shirley wasn’t her name, but it sounds like a hardened criminal’s name to me. Let’s just roll with it.

I caught Shirley sneaking an $18 watch into her purse. I tapped her lightly on the arm.

Me: Ma’am, I think you forgot to pay for that watch.

Shirley: (laughing a little) Oh honey, I was just putting it in my purse so I could have two free hands to look around.

Me: Maybe I could take it up to the counter for you?

Shirley: Sure, honey. How much is it?

Me: $18

Shirley: $18?!? This ain’t Wal-Mart. You can’t charge that kind of price.

She walked out of the store, muttering something about highway robbery. I can’t be sure though. I was too busy congratulating myself on being a hero.

My mom, busy in the back pricing handbags, missed the whole thing. She just patted me on the head when I told her. I think that was her way of telling me I was a bad-ass.
Did your folks put you to work or make you do crazy chores?
Or, did you take on odd jobs for pocket money?

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