Take this job – Part 1

When I started this post I was planning to do a meme that I saw over at The Stolen Olive. But I was having so much fun with the first question that I decided to scrap the meme and just write about different jobs I’ve had over the years.

In high school, I was a grocery store cashier for a couple years. This was back in the days when you had to key every price into the register—no scanners back then. I loved ringing up orders. My fingers, conditioned from years of clarinet playing, could fly across that keypad in record time. Of course, there was the time I charged a guy $10.90 for a half gallon of milk. Hey, I didn’t say I was accurate—only fast.

During my freshman year of college I had two horrible jobs. First semester, I worked in the dining service dish room. Hey, remember when you mixed your unwanted Brussels sprouts in with your leftover softserve ice cream? And that day when you stuffed all those wadded-up napkins in your half-full glass of chocolate milk? Yeah, I was the one taking those trays off the conveyor belt, scraping off the food, and then putting the dishes in the dishwasher that was bigger than my dorm room. At the end of the shift we’d have to practically climb inside it to get it clean. And the lovely smells; ah, those were the days.

As you might imagine, second semester I wanted something different. Better. So I signed on with the alumni office as a telemarketer. Yes, that was SO much better. Every night instead of hanging out at the library or watching TV with friends, I’d head over to the the science building where the auditorium had been converted to a phone center. For three hours, I would call alumni and ask for donations to the college. That job was a character builder, let me tell you. But it was also a good stepping stone. For the three years after that, I worked as the statistician for the telemarketers—keeping track of the pledges, sending out the pledge forms to alums, and doing other odd jobs around the office. It was wonderful, and even though I graduated 15 years ago, I still keep in touch with my boss from that job.

As my freshman year drew to a close, it seemed like all of my high school friends were getting really cool summer jobs. I didn’t want to be left out of the fun club, so I applied with a family in Denver to be a nanny for their three girls, ages 11, 5, and 3. Now I don’t know about you, but when I hear that someone has a nanny, I imagine that they live in a huge luxurious house, take fabulous vacations, and basically have a lot of money. These people? Not so much. They lived in a three bedroom split-level in the suburbs and were struggling to repay their dental school loans. But hey—I was used to that! They were great, the kids were well-behaved, and I loved it. They basically treated me like another member of their family. It was a sad day when I had to say goodbye to them and the beautiful mountains to head back to the flat frozen tundra that is North Dakota. I still keep in touch with them too. The girls? Yeah, they’re now 29, 23, and 20. Ugh.

The summer after my sophomore year, I started out as a cashier in the souvenir shops at Valleyfair. I was miserable working 12+ hour shifts on my feet with a bunch of irresponsible high school kids. And I hated watching for shoplifters, taking wet money that people had pulled out of their shoes, and being subjected to overtired tantrum-throwing kids. Who needs all that? After a month I gave it up for an office job in St. Paul.

The next job that I want to write about was my first “real” job after college. It truly deserves its own post, so I think I’ll stop here for now. Tune in later this week for Take this job (from hell) – Part 2.


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