Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Training for...?

I think my favourite job I ever had as a teenager was working at a hot dog cart.

I was 16 years old and my dad knew this guy from one of the bars he frequented. They talked it over and my dad arranged for me to work for this guy. He had a gray mullet and tucked his T-shirts into his shorts. But the pay was good and the work was easy. I sat on a stool under an umbrella, hanging out in nice weather at the park, grilling up hot dogs while the owner got drunk nearby. Then my best friend got a job with him and sometimes on busy days we could work together.

However, the man was a pervert and an ass. He paid me less money than the other girls, for no other apparent reason than I was, let's say, less womanly looking. He didn't observe our work, nor count the money before deciding that I should get $20 less for my day's work than my bustier co-workers.

After a fashion, I (accidentally) ruined one of his carts. Pretty sure it was an accident and not a subconscious FU to his sexist employment practices. But maybe it wasn't. But let's say it was. The assholery aside, it was still a fun job.

The worst job I ever had probably was when I was a chamber maid at the Day's Inn. My boss was a harried sort of person. She looked like she had been there a long time and had grown bitter with life. We were given 18 rooms to do a day, which meant 22 minutes per room. Yes, 22 minutes. This lead to a lot of stress. To make the deadline, sometimes I haphazardly wiped a used tub with a used towel as a means of cleaning it because I only had 3 minutes left to finish the room and about 10 minutes of work left.

This sometimes got me called back into a room to take care of a ring or some soap scum. But it's pretty shocking how frequently I got away with it. But then when you got yelled at for getting behind because you did take the extra time to do it right, you tend to make those sorts of choices. Also, a supervisor liked to go ahead to all the rooms before me, and somehow when she was working I never got tipped. Good times. The pay was also ass.

The actual work was gruelling and demanding. It had me aching and hating life each day. I got in better shape for it, though. And I got really fast at housework.

The longest job I ever held, which is closely going to be tied by my current one, was at a pita place my aunt and uncle owned. I started when I was 15. My mother was very insistent I work, my father organized this opportunity for me as well, and it all kind of just happened.

I worked there off and on, but mostly on all through high school. My cousins were in charge of me and I gave them a hard time for shits and giggles. I ate a lot of pitas. I drank countless litres of free fountain pop. By the end of high school I was 18 and I moved away. But they always got me back when I came home for reading week, Christmas, Easter, and some days in the summer.

One day my uncle convinced me to work an evening shift for him after my day shift at the Day's Inn. He came to pick me up from work to go to work and I was ready for a nap. I had a small crying fit from exhaustion in the front of the store. One of my cousins came up front and saw me laughing and sobbing in the corner near the pita steamer and didn't seem to know what to do about it. I didn't try it again.

I once worked for free (internship) at a wedding magazine. Despite the fact the pay sucked (har har), it was in many ways my dream job. I wrote about topics that were easygoing, researched topics that were mellow and pretty, and worked with women who liked their jobs. They talked me out of dressing like a slob, I got to take home hundreds of dollars worth of beauty swag from the closet and sometimes we went shopping when my boss felt like the time was right. It only lasted three months. There were no openings, and we knew my time was no longer needed when all my boss could offer me to do was organize her Rolodex. I was 21.

I was 22 when I started the job I have now. I took some time off to travel. Then I goofed around and barely looked for work until something in closed captioning fell in my lap. I've spent the last five and a half years transcribing television shows. Now I do it in my pyjamas from home. Sometimes I wonder how long this will last. My work experience doesn't exactly offer me a lot of options: Making hot dogs and pitas, cleaning up, researching how to get married and watching TV.

Thinking on it, the picture that paints is kind of depressing, isn't it?


Alek said...

Sigh... I guess I'm not the only one feeling a bit lost lately. You look at your resume, and you think, "Have I been working towards a career, or have I just been working?"

Wanna start a business or something? :P

Jendra Berri said...

You're in good company. I get a little envious of people who have obvious "careers".

Anonymous said...

I always wonder if my doctor who can't even spend 10 minutes in the room, demands only one issue be discussed per appointment is at all happy. I often doubt, though media, family and friends thrive on it, that having a career has much meaning. Because at the end of your life is really the career that matters or all the little things in life that make you happy. I would never want to be one of those people who are their career and I think that's a slippery slope when you have to invest so much of yourself in what you do. All for it if that's who you are but I think for a lot of people they lose themselves in it. And really when one of the first questions people ask is what do you do? it's no wonder people focus their lives so much on having a career. I rather answer I'm a good mother, daughter, wife, sister, artist, friend or (WRITER in your case, you have such a gift and worried over work history?!) whatever fits the bill.

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