Working Girl

Since I was able, I have worked. I’ve always liked earning money (perhaps a little too much) and when I was younger, I found a lot of freedom in having my own money and being able to buy the things I wanted. While I did have a savings account that I was expected to put money into, I was also able to do what I wanted with the money I earned. And it was on me to buy the things I wanted that my parents didn’t think necessary like B.U.M. Equipment-branded clothing, Skids pants, hypercolor clothing (let’s pause to think about the appropriateness of clothing that changes color depending on body heat, for teenagers) and accessories from Contempo Casuals.
But this post is not to recount all the stupid ways I have spent my hard-earned cash (evidence: I also purchased and wore a Coed N@ked Bungee Jumping shirt, as “Coed N@ked… [fill-in the blank]” shirts were ever so popular). Instead, I’d like to reflect on all the jobs that I have held since it hit me that I have worked consistently since I was about 13 and started babysitting. That’s 20 years, which seems like it should be time for retirement, yet I’m not even middle-aged (I hope). Though I’m sure I’m not the only one for whom this is true, plus, even if I wasn’t going to an office everyday, I’d still be working by staying home, I just wouldn’t be earning a paycheck – once you are a parent, there is no early retirement. But that is neither here nor there… let’s take a little gander at my work history.

  • I got my first babysitting gig thanks to my father. We were walking our normal neighborhood route one evening and passed the house of my former church middle school group leaders’ who had just had a second child. They happened to be outside and my dad told them I was available as a babysitter. I ended up babysitting for that family until their THIRD child was 2-3 years old. I still see that family at church and am in denial about the fact that the youngest one just graduated from high school – oh dear. I babysat regularly from 13 through college for many different families. As a parent, I see those jobs in a completely different light and I cannot believe how clueless some of the parents were who I babysat for but I can appreciate how desperate they were for a good sitter. One time, a neighbor I’d never met, called and asked me to watch her child (she’d been given my name by another neighbor) and when they went to leave, she handed me the car keys and told me I could take her son out for ice cream if I wanted, I was 14. On another occasion (and another referral sitting job), I watched a 13-month old for 6 hours and had no idea what his name was as his mother had told me over the phone when she called about the job and I had forgotten it and was too embarrassed to ask before she left and thought I could figure it out once I was in the house, I never did learn what his name was, poor kid. But I’d like to think I was a good sitter, I was always asked back and had quite a few regular gigs over those years.
  • My second job was working at Dunkin’ Donuts, from age 15 to 18. This was probably my favorite job I ever had because I worked with a bunch of my friends, the managers let us do our own thing as long as we got our work done and showed up for our scheduled shifts, and I could work as many hours as I wanted so I could earn quite a bit of money (relatively speaking). Handily, I grew to hate the smell of donuts and while I brought donuts home regularly for family and friends, I stopped eating them myself (this side effect has since cleared itself up). The only downside came after I broke up with my then boyfriend who was also a co-worker; he was a donut fryer (he made the donuts) and I was a finisher (I finished the donuts by frosting/glazing/filling/sprinkling them). After our break up (my doing), when we worked together and he needed to bring me warm donuts to frost, which was done by picking up the donuts with your hands and dipping one side into the frosting, he wouldn’t wait for them to cool but instead would deliver them straight out of the hot fryer and I would have to keep up or he would just bring more. This meant I ended up with bright red and burned finger tips for a few weeks. Until he started dating someone new and came in to work with a hickey covered the side of his neck, after that my donuts were delivered much cooler.

  • Office fill-in, summers from post-high school graduation through college. The dad from my first babysitting job was also my first boss at a real job in an office. He was the HR manager and they needed some summer help to fill-in while people were out on vacation. I’ve mentioned this job before because while I stayed mostly in the office, filling in for the receptionist and doing data entry, I also got to fill in for the person who checked incoming loads at the landfill (it was a waste management company). For nearly a month one summer, I sat in a metal trailer, atop a very large and tall pile of trash (granted the new trash was covered with dirt every night), greeting garbage truck drivers as they came in; if it was an open-topped container, I left my seat and went up a flight of stairs to a platform to check out the load for possible hazardous materials (medical waste bins, paint cans, lidded buckets). The only advice I was given was to wear a fake wedding ring so the drivers didn’t hit on me – which was helpful since I was easily 15-30 years younger than most of them. The worst part was watching a thunderstorm roll in as the lightning flashed in the distance, wondering if I shouldn’t seek shelter elsewhere (see: metal shed atop very tall trash pile); the answer to that was yes, so I got to spend a pleasant hour in another construction shed on lower ground with 20 guys who worked at the landfill.
  • Miscellaneous college jobs. I worked for JTS (job transportation services), driving on-campus students to their off-campus jobs. I was a deskie in one of the dorms, greeting guests and sorting mail into the student’s boxes. And I was a resident assistant on a floor of one of the dorms for a year. What I lacked in confidence (I was completely intimidated by half the girls on my floor and never wrote anyone up for the whole year), I made up for in enthusiasm (planning floor dates, letters/packages from home for everyone on the floor, decorating bulletin boards, late night advice sessions for the lovelorn) and I loved that year so very much!
  • Ad agency intern. My senior year, I moved to Chicago and was enrolled in an internship program for students from multiple liberal Christian colleges. I for sure thought I wanted to work for an ad agency when I graduated so the internship was a great stepping stone (or so I thought). There I learned that I never wanted to work for an ad agency and people are mean. No one was ever mean to me, but I saw enough back-stabbing and bitchery to freak me out and make me question my place in the real world. But I kept my head down and did what was asked of my without question and with speed which allowed me to fly under the radar. [Note: The creative director at the agency had achieved success by creating the “I want to be like Mike” campaign for Nike and Michael Jordan; this seemed to mean that he no longer had to prove himself by doing anything else and instead spent his time sitting in his office and looking wistfully at his prominently displayed Jordan posters.]

  • Midwest marketing coordinator for a Panera-like company (this one is on my regret list). I was probably not ready for this job just out of college. I worked from home and traveled almost weekly to one of my cities I was responsible for, marketing-wise. I loved it and learned a ton about people and marketing, but it stressed me out and as I mentioned, I ended up quitting the job via email after 5 months. It did help me have a killer credit score since I charged and expensed quite a lot of money each month for travel and marketing efforts, so there’s that.
  • Which brings us to my current (paying) job where I have been for 11 years next month. I am the only non-English major in an office of writers and yes, English majors. My job allows me the flexibility to be home with my kids when my husband is at work in the afternoon and evenings, to go to MOPS meetings during the school year and take off time whenever I need it for the kids or vacation. We serve clients from small business to multi-billion dollar corporations in both the public and private sector. I really enjoy what I do and every day there is something different to do from editing copy for a website or a brochure to writing training materials for a new IT system to keeping track of the books. It really is ideal and still there is a part of me that’s always looking for something more, after 11 years, it just seems normal to think of the what-ifs of other job opportunities. But then I have to remember how good I’ve got it (plus, I’m a partner now so it’s kind of hard to leave). So instead I started a blog… it’s my new job (and despite what I said earlier, I love it most of all [obviously not more than my job as a mom, but I think of that more as my life, not my job, as hard as it can be sometimes]).

If you have made it to the end of this post, gold star for you… thanks for joining me on this little resume review. Not bad for not having a clue what I was going to write about when I opened this window.


15 responses to “Working Girl

  1. I get a gold star!!!

    And you and I are VERY similar in our jobs fresh out of college….I was professionally ready for mine, but not socially ready for the politics. Oh my, the politics…..<>

  2. I kid you not- I just thought about this yesterday… my first clothing purchase with my own money was a pair of generic Skidz-type pants with neon colored designs. I’m fairly certain this is the first time I have admitted that in public.

    • Mine were blue, green and yellow plaid and in college I removed the logo and wore them as pijama pants. Because that’s what they were.

  3. so jealous you worked at dunkin donuts. my favorites (in no particular order) jelly, chocolate glazed, vanilla kreme, blueberry. Mmmmm. It’s a good thing I can’t get to one right now. And i read every word of your post. 🙂

    • My favorite, by far, was a glazed cherry cake donut, but it had to be warm from the fryer so it melted in your mouth. I don’t think they make them anymore. And maple frosted cinnamon roles.

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