This week’s theme of Jobs That Made Us Who We Are Today is making me all warm and tingly with fond memories. Like Susan, I like to imagine I gleaned some kind of direction from each job (conveniently 5 in total!) that eventually led me to where I am today: living my dream job.
1) Cashier at Hallmark. My first job ever, and I even remember the skirt I wore on my very first day. However, I also remember the fact that I was the sole employee during evening hours, and was in charge of closing the store, counting the money, putting it in the safe, and locking up ALL BY MY TEENAGE SELF while my Dad waited in the car outside (cursing Hallmark for allowing something so irresponsible I’m sure!). Lesson Learned: Some responsibility may be premature, but when you buck up and accept it, it ends up shaping you into a stronger, more confident person. I have to admit, I was kinda proud to have that much responsibility at a job.
2) Shoe Girl at Rich’s Department Store. Oh, these were the days. Everyone at my high school seemed to be employed by Rich’s. I’m not kidding. Everyone. And it was there, among the toxic-smelling rubber of new, cheaply made shoes that I experienced some of my highest, high school drama. I don’t remember a darn thing about what my job entailed, but I remember everything about a certain love triangle and one of the most difficult choices I ever made as a teenager. Lesson Learned: Love triangles are fun and exciting and sad—and great stuff for novels!
3) Dietary Aid at a Nursing Home. That’s right. I fed the elderly. I poured their tea and took down their special orders and even helped a few of them pull up their pants as they shuffled down the hall with their britches around their ankles. In all seriousness, I loved this job. I got to hear the stories of all these people who had lived their younger lives in a totally different time, who had done so much and seen so much. Lesson Learned: Listen when you’re being told a story. Don’t talk. Just listen.
4) Data Entry Assistant at Insurance Company. Like Susan said, I think everyone should be forced to hold a job like this. Why? Because if you have a dream, even an inkling of a dream, a soul-crushing job like this gives you incentive to make it into a reality. OK, maybe not everyone would see data entry as soul-crushing, but for me the only cool thing about the job was the robot-cart that delivered the mail to each department. That and my cubicle mates, who made the job somewhat bearable. Lesson Learned: Don’t settle. The positives of a job really should outweigh the negatives.
5) Assistant Editor at Yankee Magazine. Yeah. Sweet. Landed this baby straight out of college, yo. I credit numerous personal transformations to this job and the people I encountered there. Not to mention the fact that I got to travel on press trips for free, where they wine and dine you in hopes of a good article. Sigh…I did love that job. But, even as cushy as it was, I was still greedy. I wanted my two dreams and nothing less. Dream One: To raise my children as a stay-at-home mom. Dream Two: To be a published author and write books full time. Was it terrifying to quit that job? Yes. But I was more terrified of living the rest of my life without so much as trying to attain my dreams. Lesson Learned: Be stubborn. Be persistent. And heck, be a little greedy.