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Working Papers

January 26, 2010

I’ve been working since I was about 14. I don’t really know why I started so early (other than my mom wouldn’t just let me stay home from summer camp and sit on the couch) but it’s not like I saved for college or did anything awesome with my money other than pay my beeper bill. My mom didn’t have a lot of money, and I never had an allowance, so I this was my spending cash – but I think I just really liked working. The responsibility, the rhythm, being around people who weren’t in junior high/high school…

That being said, I have had some odd jobs. Not all of these jobs lasted a long time–some just a semester and some overlapped. And I’m not counting babysitting.  But I think my “resume” is worth sharing.

In what I think is chronological order – Jobs I Have Held:

Clerk, Bayside Milk Farm
A family-run, upscale produce/grocery/appetizing store. I worked the registers with a chain-smoker named Jolene. I am pretty sure there were some shady dealings at this store and man-oh-man did it take in money. I eventually quit because they wouldn’t work with my junior high schedule. Also, the produce manager had a lovely habit of assigning each of the clerk’s chest different fruit categories. The girl deemed “Cherry” would always go home crying. Welcome to the working world.

Bridal Consultant
Somehow, someone decided that not only should I help brides with fashion choices, I should go near them with sharp pins, dress their mothers and bridesmaids, memorize fabrics and convince every bride that her wedding dress will be classy and original. And that her special princess day is the most important day in all of our lives. I was actually pretty good at this, as long as I could sell the one or two dresses that I didn’t think were hideous. I vaguely remember Little Miss Sarcasm also working here with me.
Awesome things learned: If you can handle a mother-of-the-bride, you can handle anyone. Seriously.

File Clerk/Law Firm
I filed stuff. It was supposed to be in alphabetical order, but I was a little lax. I actually worked for two different law firms, but I am condensing them here. One was a real estate attorney. The other was a divorce attorney. I spent a lot of time in the back room reading the details of people’s divorce and custody agreements. This makes me a bad, but very nosy person. I once left work crying and with the sympathy of three paralegals because my then-boyfriend dumped me. For the first time.
Awesome things learned:  The boyfriend would dump me many times in the future, and it was never worth crying at work over. And that you shouldn’t get married willy-nilly (but I kinda already know that.)

Clerk/August Moon
This was one of my most favoritest jobs. Working at August Moon was considered pretty cool. It was a collectibles/gift store that also sold party favors, balloons and rented out costumed characters. We also had a seasonal, awesome costume rental store. My responsibilities included regular store clerk stuff, custom invitations but I was also put in charge of the Beanie Babies consignment. This may have been my most high-pressure situation to-date.  I also occasionally had to get into a furry-mascot suit and hand out flyers. I worked here for about two and a half years.
Awesome things learned: How to make a balloon arches and balloon/styrofoam centerpieces.

Assistant Clown/Carny
Yes, I was an assistant. Essentially, my then-boyfriend was the clown/costume character and my responsibilities included Febreezing the outfits, taking pictures of the kids with the clown, running carnival games, serving food and fending off both advances from drunk firemen and evil eyes from their wives.
Awesome things learned:
I can make about 12 different balloon animals (all variations on a poodle), and I can make perfect sno-cones and cotton candy twirls.

Medical Records Collection for Life Insurance Underwriting
Life insurance agents need your medical records in order to decide your … plan stuff. Way back when, before email and scanners were popular, this was a pain in the butt. So, they hired companies to do this for them. I worked for one of those companies. My job, all day, was to call up doctors offices and hospitals and request medical records. I would wait on hold, beg, call back, beg again. It was awful. I did this for about two years, off and on. My co-workers were all miserable, middle-aged women who hated their lives. One of my co-workers had a daughter who was dating my boyfriend. Unfortunately, so was I.
Awesome things learned
: That it’s very important to stay in school.

Office Manager, Paper Brokerage
I don’t think I was here more than a month. My boss was a father-son team who despite me explaining my technical abilities, figured that as long as I knew how to turn on a computer I could also re-write database programs and design websites. This was not true. I do remember that the father wore oversized, tinted women’s glasses.
Awesome things learned: I learned that there are companies like “paper brokerages.”

Bartender/Waitress
Nothing really to note here. I actually really liked doing these kinds of service jobs, but it was always in addition to another job, and just too much for a full-time college student with another part-time job. I also attended bartending school. I have never had, but can easily prepare you a Rusty Nail or a Harvey Wallbanger.
Awesome things learned
: Despite being really, really clumsy, I am a pretty good balancer of plates/trays.

Closing Coordinator, Mortgage Company
I worked in the closing department of a mortgage broker for years. It was boring, repetitive but it was the job I worked almost all through college, and it kind of became my entire social life. In fact, a friend got me the job, and I brought on my (then) best friend, my sister, my friend Rachel and at times, my then-boyfriend (yes, that same jerk.) I still keep in touch with a lot of people from there, and keep up with the gossip because Rachel’s boyfriend still works there. I left after I graduated college. I was offered a full-time position, but while I was occasionally challenged, mortgages just aren’t for me. Perks included seeing the appraisals and inside photos of some high-profile clients.
Awesome things learned: Lots of great stuff about credit scores and personal finance.

Intern at the AMNH, North American Archaeology
No matter what job I have, this will always be the coolest. Mainly because it was very little work and a lot of walking around behind locked doors at the museum and looking at awesome artifacts, getting behind the scenes looks at the Human Genome Project, death masks and curiosities from the early collections, learning stories about Margaret Mead and hanging out with the curators in the professional lounges. They paid me for this. I also did all sorts of research and collections cataloging and curation. I was asked to help with some exhibits, but since I apparently can’t cut in straight lines, I was removed from that project.
Awesome things learned
: Just that all the really cool stuff is behind locked doors and some awesome stories to tell when I walk around the museum like a pretentious snob.

What I do now isn’t wild or wacky, and the skills I have learned are more valuable but not as general-population-fascinating as balloon animals. But the short version is I am a Marketing Manager/Social Media Specialist. And while it has it’s own host of crazy stories, since I very much love my job, I will keep those to myself.

What’s the craziest job you ever had? What’s the coolest thing you learned from a job?

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8 Comments
  1. Jess permalink
    January 27, 2010 6:06 pm

    Awesome post, this was really fun!

    Craziest job I ever had was working Saturdays in a butcher’s shop, where all the butchers would take drugs at about 3pm, to get them through the afternoon and ready for a night out. The owner also paid off the health inspector. Many of the others working there became vegetarian.

    Coolest thing I’ve ever learnt from a job is just how to deal with people. I was seriously bullied at my last job, and spent the first few months it was happening ignoring it, because I didn’t want to play stupid games like that. Unfortunately, that let the bully get me fired.

    Now I’m at a new job, and one of the ladies here is giving me attitude. I’m her superior, and I’m politely going to smack her down the next time it happens. Lesson learned – don’t take attitude, deal with it straight away. I’ll always do that politely, because that’s just the kind of person I am, but I have learned that you absolutely have to deal with it.

    • January 27, 2010 8:09 pm

      My first job outside of babysitting was working at McDonalds. It was my way of proving responsibility to my parents so I could drive. I was 15, driving age in the state I lived was 16. I was on my way.
      Except (shocker) it was the worst job ever.
      Greasy all the time, dealing with jerks, getting burned, it goes on.

      Awesome things learned:
      When the 18yo grill guy asks you to come down to the walk in freezer and help him with the patties, he means something else.
      Also polyester pants are the devil.

    • January 28, 2010 10:40 pm

      Awesome! Learning to deal with problems instead of ignoring them is a major, major thing to learn.

      Speaking of butchery, my boyfriend wants me to take a butchery class with him. Assuming no drugs are involved, should I do it?

      • Jess permalink
        January 28, 2010 11:00 pm

        I would totally take a butchery class. Most butchers are really funny, although the humour may get a little black at times.

        And I think it’s important to respect where food comes from. I eat meat frequently, so knowing how to tell good meat from bad (hint: don’t buy anything pre-marinated. If you really like the marinade, buy good meat and ask the server for the marinade in the bag), what cuts are best to use for frying, stewing or roasting and how to carve a chicken are great skills.

        And, you can eat your assignments!

  2. January 27, 2010 9:29 pm

    Indeed! I did work at the bridal place too, but we never worked there at the same time. Also agreed, probably not the best idea to have you near people with sharp pins. That kinda sounds disastrous 😉
    .-= LittleMissSarcasm´s last blog ..Get Out of My Head. Oh Wait, I Just Invited You In… =-.

  3. January 27, 2010 9:53 pm

    I had to stop reading at “beeper bill” to comment. Ha! Beepers!
    .-= nancypearlwannabe´s last blog ..Spirit Reading =-.

  4. Beth Anne permalink
    January 27, 2010 10:35 pm

    I think my tutoring job has been the cooolest job I’ve ever had. I get paid for helping kids and I don’t even have to go anywhere…sadly it’s my part time job and it pays more than my fulltime job 😦

    • January 28, 2010 10:43 pm

      And wherever could that be? 🙂

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