When someone asks what my job is, I'm always at a bit of a loss. For most of my married life I've been just a wife and mom, but of course all you wives and moms out there know there's nothing "just" about it. Now the kiddies are grown and out, and I jokingly tell the DH that he's my job now.
Sometimes I actually get up the nerve to tell folks I'm a writer. They ask what I write and I tell them. And there's usually a bit of discussion about books and magazine and reading and such. My nextdoor neighbors are actually impressed that I've had short stories published in a magazine. And some other friends have asked me to see copies of the magazines where my stories appear.
Here's a list of the jobs I've held through the years (and this doesn't include any lemonade stands or babysitting):
1. My college was on the quarter system and we didn't get out of school until later in December. By the time I got home my freshman year, there weren't many good jobs available, but I found a position in a local supermarket trying to convince shoppers to buy eggnog. The company didn't want me actually giving samples. I just had to hold up a quart and show it. Talk about boring. And I even hate eggnog. But I earned enough to pay for my part of a trip to NYC with the Interfaith Council, where I saw Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Empire State Building and was in a disco in the East Village when a subversive group planted a pipe bomb.
2. The next Christmas I worked at Sears. It was my first foray into retail sales. After a quick lesson on how to operate the cash register I was turned loose on the floor. No matter what department I was in, the cash register always screwed up. And to make matters worse, one night I was working with a guy who was still in high school and I learned he made more money than I, even though we both had the same level of non-experience. Talk about mad! The next two Christmases I worked in a small wholesale buying club. It was like Service Merchandise, only locally owned. The owner was great. The other employees were great. I actually enjoyed working there, and bless the owner's heart, he did his level best to make sure everyone had some time off on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day so you could be with family.
3. I was a dorm counselor for two years. Mostly I had to tell girls to keep the noise level down, and when they instituted male visitation in the dorms, occasionally I had to run a guy out of the dorm after hours. The worst was when I was told one of the girl's boyfriend had been killed in a hunting accident and they wanted to keep it from her until after final exams. The other two girls who knew asked me to cancel the hall Christmas party because they didn't think we should be celebrating. Of course I had to come up with some reason for canceling. And once they told her, I had to listen to her sob because she was in the room next to mine. Not fun.
4. I went to summer school after my freshman and sophomore years in college. Going after my junior year wouldn't have let me graduate any earlier because I had a required course that was only taught during winter quarter. So I stayed home and worked. I applied again for a retail job and when they didn't call back after a week, I settled for a waitressing job at a national chain restaurant , which shall remain nameless, but it was a good twenty years before I could eat strawberry pie, and I still can't eat hot fudge cake. I started on the counter, which was mostly just serving coffee and desserts, and then moved my way to the bigger tables. The more experienced waitresses amazed me with their ability to carry multiple plates and those huge trays. I barely managed with the small beverage tray. And the lingo -- for two weeks I thought c-burger was a fish sandwich. Sea-burger. Get it? And would you believe the retail store offered me a job AFTER I'd bought the waitressing uniform and a pair of white shoes?
5. After getting married, I had a variety of temp jobs. My husband's job required a lot of travel and I went with him. Sometimes we'd get to stay in a place for several months and I'd register with Kelly Girl (it was called that way back when I worked for them) and work temp jobs. I did mostly office work, but my most interesting job was doing inventory at International Harvester in Atlanta. All day for three days I counted nuts and bolts and doo-dads and other things. We worked in teams of two, and my partner was a Moonie -- you know, a member of Sun Myung Moon's cult.
6. My husband and I have a charity that's close to our hearts because several of his first cousins died from this disease. I've worked on their telethon and was asked to join their fundraising team for pay. For forty hours a week I sat in a basement room with a phone and a reverse phone directory and called people to very politely ask them to canvas their street for donations. Most folks were very nice, even when declining. But a few... May they rot in hell for the awful things they said to me and my co-workers.
7. We owned a retail computer software franchise for a while and I handled all the inventory control for the business. Twice a week I picked up all the invoices along with shipping and receiving documents and entered them into a database on the computer at home. It was a good job for someone with two small kids. As long as I got the work done, it didn't matter when I did it. Sadly, one of our business partners was letting inventory walk out the back door and we had trouble finding help who didn't steal from us. Combine that with a caved in roof after a heavy rain and it was bye-bye franchise.
8. I sold Tupperware for a year and I still remember that it's guaranteed against "chipping, peeling, cracking or splitting for the lifetime of the product under normal, non-commercial use." I hated asking people to do parties and I hate trying to sell things to people, which makes me wonder why I allowed myself to get involved in...
9. Amway. 'Nuff said.
10. My last "real" job was on a space shuttle support contract. For four years I worked in property management and helped keep up with billions of dollars of computational and telecommunications equipment. I also wrote procedures so if Joe Blow walked in off the street, we could hand him the procedure for receiving property and he would know how to do it. Then the contract was renegotiated, which was the roller coaster ride from hades, and after the new company took over, I was moved to the customer support group, where I tracked work orders and tried to keep tempermental engineers happy even when the network gateway was on a launch lockdown and no changes could be made to anything.
All things considered, my jobs really weren't that bad, especially when compared to some I found online.
How'd you like to work in a chicken processing plant? I just don't want to think about all those chicken guts. And how about the poor guy at the zoo who has to perform vasectomies on the male elephants. One wrong move and he'll be a human pancake.
Then there's roofing. We had two weeks of 100+ degree weather last month. I cannot imagine being on a black shingle roof during that. Heck, getting the mail nearly left me suffering from heatstroke.
Prostitution is also low on the list of desirable jobs. I'm just not sure any little girl ever says to her mother "When I grow up, I want to be a hooker." I'm not sure how many little boys grow up wanting to be a pimp, either. But a school teacher friend of mine had a student tell her he wanted to be a rapist when he grew up. She immediately contacted the school psychologist.
What's the craziest or worst job you ever had? Tell us every zany and/or awful detail. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Bite Me if You Can by Lynsay Sands or The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt or Cross My Heart by Carly Phillips.
P.S. We've started posting totals from Smarty Pants and Problem Child's writing challenge in the sidebar, just under the red contest logo. Tune in daily to watch their progress.