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Laborious Day: A list of jobs I held, hated, loved, and left

Jobs I’ve held, paid and volunteer:

1. Babysitter: Back in the late 80s, we made $2 an hour to watch MTV. And kids.

2. Candy-striper: I volunteered at a hospital when I was in high school. I wore the classic candy-striper uniform. I made the beds, delivered the meals, made coffee in the ER, and delivered messages and specimens.

3. Amusement Park Diva: For 2 summers in high school, I ran rides and worked in the arcade giving out prizes and fixing Skee Ball machines. During daytime shifts, I sat at the top of the waterslide, handing out mats.

4. Target Lady: My senior year in high school, I found myself in a Red Shirt. I worked on the floor, in the Domestics Department. I was queen of folding towels and stocking shelves. I hung display curtains, created endcaps, and sorted embroidery floss because people simply didn’t care where they put the floss when they changed their minds. That tells you how long ago this was. Target still sold yarn and embroidery junk. And all the home decor was slate blue and mauve.

5. Dorm Cafeteria Nerd: To help pay my expenses during my freshman year of college, my parents had me apply to work in my dorm’s cafeteria in exchange for room and board. I washed dishes, sliced deli meats, served on the line, chopped veggies, and checked IDs. I did it all, except look cool. It felt good to know I saved my parents a lot of money, though.

6. Call-Center Operator: When I came home from my freshman year, I got a summer job working for Choice Hotels International. They had a call center in Grand Junction. I spent 2 weeks learning how to book hotel reservations and the rest of the summer wearing a head-set. People called the 1-800 number and said, “HI, I’m going to Sandusky, Ohio and need 9 adjoining rooms with 4 king size beds, 3 smoking, 5 rooms with doubles, non-smoking please, 3 cribs, 2 roll-aways, and we’re bringing 6 dogs. We need 2nd floor, close to the elevator and there must be a continental breakfast with a toaster in the lobby. 2 of the rooms need refrigerators and I’d like for at least one of the king rooms to have a jetted tub with a view of the interstate. An indoor pool with a twirly slide would be acceptable, but we’d prefer an outdoor pool because August in Sandusky is so nice. Have you been?” My job: To make it happen. Over and over and over.

7. Health Food Restaurant Wonk: I decided to not return home after my second year in college, so my parents thought it wise I get a job in Boulder. Where else but a health food restaurant? It was called Healthy Habits, which is a terribly boring name for a restauran—but it was wildly popular. Everyone started out washing dishes, then bussing tables. I worked my way up to the salad bar, chopping veggies and stocking then-exotic foods like quinoa, cous cous, tabouleh, and jicama. I was finally promoted to hostess, a coveted job because you didn’t have to wear a purple shirt.

8. Waitress: I was Flo with a dark brown bob, taking orders for green burritos and beer at a Grand Junction southwestern-cuisine hot spot called River City. It no longer exists, but they were one of the first restaurants in the nation to serve hot artichoke dip. They called it Sheep Dip.

9. Shakespeare Tutor: I wrestled Shakespeare to the ground. I showed him small-town waitresses could write kick-butt papers about King Lear. When my professor noticed as well, he asked me to apply to be the college’s tutor, speciality Shakespeare. I was very busy.

10. Airport Rental Car Lady: I worked for Hertz at Walker Field in Grand Junction. It was fun and I had an insider view of airport life. They could have made a reality show based on the characters who work in airports. All sorts of crazy things happened, like hunters returning with a dead deer in the trunk of a bullet-riden Ford Taurus to celebrities popping through on their way to Aspen and Telluride. The best was watching charters from the East Coast arrive, full of skiers wearing huge furry boots and their ski clothes! On the plane?! (don’t do that…) And then they’d ask if the roads were paved yet and if I’d carry their baggage.

11. Home Health Coordinator: I finally graduated after 7 years in college. I had a BA in English. What to do, what to do? How about get a job in a completely unrelated field? The same week I got married, I started scheduling home health care visits for elderly and disabled people. I scheduled CNA, RN, PT, and OT visits, coordinating care. I worked with social services, who referred cases to us through Medicare, Medicaid, and Adult Protective Services. Some of our patients were victims of elder abuse. I received additional training and was given a job in the field, tutoring a brain-injured man who wished to earn his GED. I left when Ryley was born, so I never got to see him graduate.

12. Urgent Care Receptionist: This was an interesting job. I really liked it. Nights and weekends, I manned the desk at an urgent care, serving as eyes, ears, with a bit of triage thrown in. The strangest aspect of the job was that on any given night, the injuries and illnesses would be the same. Like one night, 80% of the people who came in had foot injuries. We’d have Ear Infection Night, Mystery Rash Saturday, Strep Sunday, Broken Arm Tuesdays…

12. Bed Bath and Beyond Clerk: My husband got a job in Denver, so we moved away from Grand Junction. I needed to work part-time. Nights and weekends, I was a cashier ringing up down comforters and ice cream scoops. I was pregnant with Sam and had horrendous all-day sickness, so they moved me to the customer service desk. It was close to the bathroom. More than once, I had to abandon my register. I left when my husband found a new job which made it possible for me to stay-at-home with our growing family.

13. Blogger: I refuse to blog about blogging. I’ve been doing this thing for almost 7 years, though.

What about your jobs?

(Friendly reminder: I am attempting to collect fast food gift cards and/or money to buy gift cards to distribute to Denver’s homeless community. Get the scoop here.)

8 comments to Laborious Day: A list of jobs I held, hated, loved, and left

  • edj

    What a fun idea for Labour Day! I’m totally stealing it 😉 Read more later at Planet Nomad!

  • I have been meaning to do something like this. I have held do many jobs in my life to NOT to it!!


  • I always wanted to work at TARGET!! You are so lucky!

    One summer….I worked painting gas meters for the gas company.

    I have also been an auto parts delivery driver and service manager in a car repair shop.

    • Gretchen von Lifenut

      I’d work for Target again. It was a lot of fun, actually. And the discount! I didn’t care about it then, but now I’d take it.

  • Loved your list of jobs – got me thinking about mine – not so many!

    Here goes:

    Baby sitter (part times while at school), camp counsellor (one summer in Belgium when I was 18), bank official (17 years – eeek!), mum (13 years and counting) (but it doesn’t pay in cash, but has many other perks) and now jewelry designer (you liked my bling rings on twitter the other day – thanks!)

    (and I have used TOO many brackets!)

  • Shayne

    How fun! My list of jobs is considerably shorter and less interesting. I spent most summers working for my dad at his engraved stationery business, 2 summers working in the operating room at a hospital, then several law firm jobs (admin. asst., paralegal clerk, summer associate) before graduating from law school.

    One year in college, I worked at Service Merchandise as a cashier during the holiday season. It was insanely busy but kind of fun. I’ll never forget the time a customer at another register paid his bill of $17-something in dimes.

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