EARLY MONEY IN A SMALL TOWN by Kate Mohler

May 13, 2012

My first job was plucking gray hairs off my mother’s head, nickel a hair. I was eight. She would sit on the couch and I would stand behind her, picking through her black hair for offenders. I’d find a gray one, pull it out by the roots, and place it in the ashtray she had cleaned out just for that. Sometimes I pretended to drop the tweezers and pull one gray hair in half, making two.

Every time I had six hairs, I would cash them in for a quarter and a nickel: the nickel for the collection basket at church on Sunday, the quarter for me and our next trip to the grocery store. Seemed like a fair deal.

A machine in the lobby of the grocery store dispensed one toy for a quarter: one ring, one whistle, one fir tree magnet. These toys came in round plastic containers with replaceable caps, which I coveted as much as the toys inside. My mom would let me buy one, and only one, each time we left the store. Traversing through the aisles with her for an hour, holding on to the cart lest I be kidnapped right out from underneath her nose, I could barely contain myself through the check-out process before the toy machine pulled me from my mother’s side like some kind of poltergeist.

Some children spent their earnings on candy. I spent mine on fake tattoos.

It wasn’t long before my work ethic had been coaxed from the core of my being. My desire to work evolved quickly into need, fluttering in me like a new addiction, setting the stage for my next job: working for my father as a lumberjack. I was ten, again being paid by the numbers.

The three of us would pile into the cab of my dad’s truck and go to the woods. I wasn’t big enough to haul timber yet–my mother took care of that, dragging trees my father cut down into the bed of our truck–but I got a quarter for hauling in any piece of wood that was thicker than my leg.

I earned more for stacking logs back home: a dollar per foot of firewood in the basement, up against a wall in a row about ten feet across. I hauled it in from the big pile that my dad left in the backyard, my summer playground now a sawmill.

If I was working alone after school, it took many minutes to get ahold of enough pieces of wood to make the trip to the basement worthwhile, but if I was working with my father, he would tell me to stretch my arms out in front of me, palms up, loading me down with as many pieces of wood I could hold without pitching forward.

He knew I was in it for the money.

Teetering under the weight of cut logs, peeping through the cracks, I would stumble down to the basement and heave this load onto the basement floor before picking up each piece again to stack one against the other.

My mom wouldn’t let me stack wood if it was below zero because the open door let in too much of a chill, counteracting the productivity of the wood stove. I had to stack when the stacking was good. That it always took me two hours to build up one foot of logs deterred me not.

This was my first dependable source of income, my first taste of dollar bills.

Kate Mohler currently lives in Arizona, where she teaches English at Mesa Community College.  Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and she is widely published on Internet literary sites.  She has a short story forthcoming in the print journal Quiddity, and another short piece forthcoming in the print journal Sol: English Writing in Mexico. She writes a column for Funny Not Slutty. Read more of Kate’s writing at her website Hotdishing.

She likes to read, write, cook, work out, and travel.

Tags: , ,

24 Responses to EARLY MONEY IN A SMALL TOWN by Kate Mohler

  1. Warren on July 29, 2014 at 2:28 am

    numerically@tr.forma” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    thank you….

  2. adrian on November 18, 2014 at 4:27 am

    exonerated@minutes.yokel” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    áëàãîäàðåí!…

  3. wade on November 18, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    comforted@nuit.proceeded” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    tnx for info….

  4. mark on November 24, 2014 at 6:00 am

    storyteller@capitulated.guggenheim” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    ñïàñèáî….

  5. Carlos on November 25, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    needless@waco.playoff” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    áëàãîäàðþ!…

  6. Jared on November 28, 2014 at 11:45 am

    landlords@motley.writing” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    thanks for information….

  7. Lewis on December 6, 2014 at 11:27 am

    example@hanch.plight” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    ñïñ!!…

  8. Miguel on December 6, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    swarms@crouchs.applicator” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    thank you!!…

  9. albert on December 7, 2014 at 1:43 am

    forehead@bases.transcend” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    ñýíêñ çà èíôó….

  10. lee on December 10, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    derive@fatigues.oregonians” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    thank you!…

  11. Gerald on December 10, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    apollo@rhinotracheitis.orderly” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    ñïñ!!…

  12. kenny on December 12, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    kodyke@waiter.undergo” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    áëàãîäàðñòâóþ!…

  13. Christopher on December 13, 2014 at 2:31 am

    dejeuner@uninhibited.cold” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    ñýíêñ çà èíôó!!…

  14. sam on December 14, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    tornadoes@masons.unthinking” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    tnx for info!!…

  15. james on December 17, 2014 at 8:18 am

    cowboys@mayonnaise.reproductions” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    ñïñ!…

  16. orlando on December 21, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    hess@sheriff.assail” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    áëàãîäàðñòâóþ!…

  17. orlando on December 22, 2014 at 5:33 am

    reverberations@irene.ave” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    good info!!…

  18. douglas on December 26, 2014 at 4:25 am

    depugh@dronks.consist” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    áëàãîäàðñòâóþ!!…

  19. Bruce on January 18, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    handling@erik.structure” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    thank you….

  20. Shaun on February 5, 2015 at 7:01 am

    styled@rex.operates” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    ñýíêñ çà èíôó….

  21. Raul on February 5, 2015 at 7:34 am

    aggregations@communities.violated” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    tnx for info….

  22. tony on February 6, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    detroit@extend.gristmill” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    ñýíêñ çà èíôó!!…

  23. neil on February 6, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    recognized@supporters.scottys” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    áëàãîäàðþ….

  24. Bill on February 11, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    catalogues@thompson.nude” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    tnx!…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Editor’s Ramblings

New Look, Same Magazine

In the immortal words of the Brady kids:

When it's time to change, then it’s time to change
Don't fight the tide, come along for the ride, don't you see
When it's time to change, you've got to rearrange
Who you are into what you're gonna be

With the help of writer and webmaster Ian Shane, we have given ourselves a makeover. It was surprisingly easy and relatively painless. On the inside, we are still the same magazine. On the outside, we are slightly more fabulous.

Praxis takes pride in featuring established and up-and-coming writers. We are always looking for new material and fresh voices. Check out our submission guidelines to get an idea of the kind of work we are looking for, and peruse our stories to get a feel for what we like.

We update our content regularly, so read voraciously and check back often.

Cheers!

Andie Ryan
Editor