While not as exciting as traveling the country as a Snapple Girl or packing oysters, I tried on several hats before landing my dream job writing. (And no, there was no booze in the classroom!)
1) Potty Training: Junior and senior year of high school, I babysat for three children while their mother ran the local health food store. I was told the youngest—a girl—was three when I applied, but it turned out she was two, and as I was with the kids from noon until elevenish in the evening five days a week—I like to think I was an integral part to little Jessie’s potty training. (Although I will confess to chucking a few messy pairs of underwear into the woods rather than washing them out in the sink as I was instructed to do.)
They family were strict macrobiotics, and I learned to cook foods I’d never heard of and that it takes a lot of elbow grease to get petrified rice off the stovetop. I made sure the house was spotless when the mom got home despite the fact my own room was always a mess, and to this day my house is not much better.
2) Free Books! Next, I decided to try out something with different hours and less poop, I applied to our local Waldenbooks. Heaven! Do you know bookstore employees can take home books to read? Unfortunately, I didn’t quite escape the poop. The manager snuck two kittens into the backroom and cleaning the litter box was on our list of things to do. I love cats, but a small backroom just doesn’t smell fresh with cats around!
3) More books, less poop! In college, I was lucky enough to get a summer job in Kittery, Maine, at The Book and Music Outlet for a couple of summers—no cats allowed.
4) He wants a Glen-wants it on the rocks with a twist. Ready to increase my earnings, I joined some of my friends as a cocktail waitress at a ritzy country club on Long Island. I spent my days in the Men’s Grill in a short, brown polyester uniform trying to figure out what the heck the old men chewing on cigars wanted me to bring back from the bar. My knowledge of liquor at the point was beer, wine coolers and schnapps. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what they ordered and just wrote their orders down phonetically. Luckily, the bartender knew what they all drank, but I never did get it straight.
Working in a country club is interesting—we’d play “guess who got a face lift” and laugh at the women who wanted their coleslaw rinsed to reduce calories. It really is another world.
5) Classrooms ups and downs. I taught fifth and sixth grade for six years before “retiring.” I planned to take some time off after my son was born, but when my daughter was born with cerebral palsy, I stayed home for good. Teaching was full of highs and lows—impossibly wonderful children sitting next to children who were just impossible. I loved turning kids onto science—we dissected eyeballs and owl pellets. We kept an insect zoo and I got my first hissing roaches. I still think about some of my students—I wonder if any of them will stumble upon my books?