This weekend a trending topic hit Twitter that was actually interesting and not just an excuse to make terrible jokes or coordinated online harassment. It was people listing their first seven jobs. Not sure if this is going to be interesting to anyone other than me, but let’s find out.
- Lawn mower: When I was around 13 neighbors would see me mowing our family’s lawn as part of my general chores and would approach me about mowing their lawn. At my peak, I was mowing four other lawns on the weekend. I charged $20 for mowing and edging and $30 if you wanted me to do your backyard. The only drawback was the one neighbor who seemed to actively refuse to employ me but would come over and tell me what I was doing wrong. Go back inside and let the professionals handle things, Gill!
- Busser: The first job to which I applied was busboy. I was terrible (used a rag that was too wet to wipe down the table, bad at getting people water, bad about cleaning tables promptly), the restaurant was terrible, and I quit after two weeks or four total working days. The restaurant went under in less than three months. Also, I think the manager was skimming tips. We supposedly split the tips with waiter, bussers and kitchen staff, but it somehow came out to exactly 10% of everyone’s paycheck, and after I quit, I didn’t get the tips for that week.
- Gas station/Auto mechanic cashier: To be clear, I didn’t work on any cars, still don’t know how to change my own oil, I just jockeyed the cash register. For someone with low ambition, this was the ideal job. I could just sit there, read, listen to music, my friends would come down and we would mess around after hours. I kept this job, kept eating innordinate amounts of Slim Jims (not an endorsement) even after the owner sold the place to another guy. The new owner was Korean (North Korean, fled the Kim Jong-Il regime) and I would help his daughter with her English and to thank me, she bought me the Jurassic Park II book. Not the first one, the sequel. I also once saw the owner talking to his cousin, mid conversation, the owner punched his cousin in the face, they yelled a little more and then hugged. At that job I would do anything to not
work yet stave off boredom including setting up a makeshift frisbee golf course and flying a kite.
- Beer Stocker: In college, I was trying desperately not to work, but there came a time when I was so poor that I needed an influx of cash. So I took a job where I would go to supermarkets super early in the morning and be there when they delivered the beer and stock the shelves. If they messed up the order, I would get to take home the extras that the market didn’t order. I did this job for a week then told the manager that my grandma died so that I wouldn’t have to be honest and say that it wasn’t worth waking up that early and doing that job with a wild hangover.
- Electricity Meter Reader: This job no longer exists. People used to have to physically visit all of the electric meters and record the reading. This was the second best job. I got to break into places, hop fences, see things I shouldn’t see (I went into a backyard and a dude was nude sunbathing and pointed me to the meter by gesturing with his butt–bet you thought I was going to say penis, but not so) and really only work five hours then joke around with a bunch of other knuckleheads.
- Technical Writer: This was the second worst job I’ve had. It was writing policies and procedures at a credit union.
- Training Manager: I should not have been promoted to this position. While working as the Technical Writer, I was promoted and was absolutely not prepared for it. It also came about in 2008. As the housing market crashed, our Vice President thought it would be a good idea to look at the sub-prime housing model and apply it to auto loans. Because, why not, we can just repossess the car. So they would get the down payment, whatever payment the person could muster, then repo the car. It was gross and it lead to me having a drinking problem. On the plus side, I was passively-aggressively fired (That same VP got me to interview my replacement without me knowing it, then offering me a part time teller job. That offer was a strategy to trick people into quitting and not trying to collect unemployment.), and lead me into the non-profit world where I actually feel like I’m making a tangible difference in the world.
That’s my first seven jobs. I’ve also taught English as a Second Language (nothing better than teaching someone the full suite of curse words), several temp jobs, helped re-write an offshore oil rig safety manual, babysitter, and now a grant writer. Life takes you a lot of strange and interesting directions, like reading an electric meter over a dude’s taught, bronzed glutes.