And Then I Fell Out the Window

Life, examined and punted around

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Tales from Work: Off to the Rat Race

A while ago, when I was bored, I made a list called “Every Job I’ve Ever Had.” It covered quite the variety of minimum wage pursuits, some degrading, some boring, some life-changing. Being 24 means I’ve been in the work force for 10-odd years now, so I thought the list was worth sharing. Especially since I just started a new job today, one that is a real, actual, factual, Grown Up Job, departing from everything else on this strange little list. But more on that at the end.

Every Job I Have Ever Had

  • Detasseler (Age 14. If you know what detasseling is you probably also grew up in the Midwest like me, and perhaps you too know the anguish of a cornfield on a sweltering July day with a bunch of swearing junior high kids in sweaty gloves)
  • McDonalds employee (Age 16-18. My high school career, which allowed me to work around marching band practice and late night play rehearsals. I’m still amazed at how many good stories I’ve managed to milk from my time at that McDonalds.)
  • Brunch server (Age 18-19.)
  • Cafe worker (Age 18-19, carrying on my food service prowess as queen of the late night pizza assembly line.)
  • Amusement park attendant (Age 19. Dumbest job ever and best summer ever. I met amazing coworkers from Bulgaria, Turkey, and Russia, a couple of whom I got to see in Turkey several years later.)
  • Custodian (Age 19. Very short lived. For a few months I would roll out of bed twice a week to listen to my “Music for Midnight” podcast of chill music and vacuum the science building hallways.)
  • College newspaper writer (Age 19-22, on and off. Proudest moment was having my own comic strip in the paper. Much wit! Wow! Such popular!)
  • Camp counselor and canoe guide (Age 22. Best summer job ever. Lived in a tent, was uncomfortable 80% of the time, was joyful 100% of the time. I learned a ton, felt like a badass, didn’t earn a ton of money, and was totally okay with that.)
  • Baker (Age 23. Baked enough muffins, cookies, scones and bars to cover Mt. Rushmore and heard enough gossip and trash talk to fill up an hour of air time on MTV.)
  • Gas station cashier (Age 23, a brief stint. Lordy. Met some beautiful ugly people and some ugly beautiful people and one very sad alcoholic homeless man.)
  • New age gift shop salesperson (Age 24. Always nice to support small businesses, but it’s also nice to get paid more often than once a month, and to have a computer instead of having to hand-write every purchase in a little notebook. The bookkeeping methods drove me crazy and for a store filled with singing bowl, crystals, and calming music, I was surprisingly on edge all the time.)
  • Tea salesperson (Age 24. I just finished up there last week, which was bittersweet. On one hand, the mall is hell and most of the people in it are vapid hellions. And the more I worked in retail the more I could relate to Bernard Black from Black Books. On the other hand, my coworkers were anything but, except for that one dreadful girl, and I learned SO much about tea and how to connect with customers one on one.)

10 years, 12 jobs. Not bad. Not that any of them really look good on a LinkedIn profile or a resume, but that insane patchwork of places and people and odd skills has, I like to think, made me a more interesting person. (Imagine if I did put everything on my resume–

“Job-related skills:

-Frantically sewing up broken stuffed animals to use as prizes behind a games booth

-Being an ambassador for feuds between the Turks and the Bulgarians at the theme park

-Wrangling cookie dough out of a 60-quart mixing bowl (oh, and lifting said mixing bowl onto a counter)

-Explaining the many benefits of cast iron teapots

-Learning the many (bullshit) uses of crystals for healing and energy channeling and telling customers about them with a straight face” )

Longest parenthetical ever. The big news of this blog is, of course, that after ten years of bouncing around between the strangest mix of jobs available, I have finally landed an editing job–a real, grown-up job that uses my major, and that has a regular Monday-Friday schedule in an office with desks and a water cooler–a water cooler!  It’s funny. The only experience I have with jobs in offices like this are from TV shows like, The Office or movies like Office Space, which all have sort of wacky-but-contained characters and gossip and self-loathing. I’m sort of amazed at how much truth there is to that. Except, I hope, for the self-loathing. People at my work seem to be enjoying their job for the most part.

My supervisor is a woman with messy dyed hair and framed pictures of cats by her computer, who will stop into the editorial office to show me and my two coworkers a “Beatles vs Rolling Stones” book or to talk about the video game she got addicted to this weekend. The office, though small, is a mixture of Arab speakers from several countries, a couple of Kenyans, and Iowans. I share an office with two other editors, and I already feel like I’m starting to fit into this strange little family. We shall see what new Work Tales arise. Onward!