By Sally Torbey
Selling concessionsUploaded: Jan 11, 2016
I helped chaperone the music boosters concession stand at the Palo Alto High School flea market this weekend. The band students sell pastries, coffee, chips and burgers to raise money for the music program. As I watched the students learning the basics of waiting on customers, keeping track of orders, and hygienically wrapping sandwiches, I thought back to my first jobs: working at a gift shop, selling coats at a department store and busing tables at an Italian restaurant at a ski resort.
I thought about all the skills I acquired and honed with those jobs, and how, like our kids, many teenagers don’t do these jobs anymore because between academic loads, sports commitments, SAT prep classes, internships, and community service work, there isn’t time, and now we provide the spending money (which would have eliminated my major motivation for employment!).
By working the music boosters concession stand, in addition to earning the community service hours she covets, our daughter is learning to work on a team, follow established procedures, and serve customers. Flea market vendors need to stay put at their stands to sell their wares, so the kids go booth to booth taking orders for morning coffee and then later lunch, grilled and delivered at the vendors’ requested time. The older kids run the grill and instruct and organize the younger students, assigning them tasks and keeping them on schedule. Food delivery is not only a nice convenience for the flea market vendors, but the vendors, many who are seniors, clearly appreciate chatting with the teenagers as they make their rounds.
All in all, a very productive way for teens to spend a Saturday: raising money for a great high school program, gaining useful work experience, and providing a much appreciated service!