The Oddest Job I’ve Ever Had
Yesterday you read about how Eric quit his career as a lawyer and opened his own food truck. We all have dreams like that. But we also have a history of random jobs, even careers–I read today that the new length for a career is 4 years.
So it got me thinking about the oddest jobs I’ve ever had. None have been too crazy. But I’ve compiled them onto a list in chronological order to see how they hold up.
A standard referee uniform.
Babysitter: One of those typical teenage jobs. I could act responsible, but was I really equipped for this responsibility? I remember once putting a little kid on top of a refrigerator to keep him away from other kids. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s not okay.
- Referee: I actually loved this job. You get to run around, watch soccer, and enforce arbitrary rules. I was pretty good at this job. Reffing for teenage girls was really interesting, though. They would get really done up for the games–like, lipstick, heavy mascara, the works. Very odd. My proudest moment (not really) was giving a 12-year-old girl a red card for stopping the ball with both hands right before it was going to go into the goal. She was not the goalie. If there’s one true no-no in soccer, that’s the one, and I figured it was better she learned that from a young age.
- Movie Theater Dude: This was awesome. It was the summer before college, and I wanted to see a lot of movies in the theater for free. Little did I know that I was also going to consume a tremendous amount of popcorn and soda for free as well. I loved working concession, partly because of the popcorn (yes, we ate it with our hands directly out of the popcorn maker) and partly because I loved doing the math in my head for people’s purchases. At times I also had to tear tickets and clean theaters (people do dirty, dirty things during movies). I once asked two young teenagers for their IDs when they went to see a PG-13 movie (I think it was Galaxy Quest–there’s some cleavage in that movie!), and another time I hunted down a grandmother for sneaking in popcorn and candy. Not on my watch, lady.
- Church Work-Study Helper: In college, my part-time work-study job was at the church where I currently work full time. I worked with a lot of really nice people. Mostly I did data entry and bought/fixed technology for the technophile priest. I think he may have purchased the world’s first GPS device.
Roughly how I imagined an alarm company central station would look.
Alarm Company Central Station Operator: I thought that working at an alarm company would look like an ADT commercial. Heck no. Basically, you’re locked in a small, aging room with no windows filled with out of date computers for 8 hours a day with a sassy group of 40-something African American women. Which means that it was way better than the ADT commercials. Other than the social atmosphere, it was a pretty boring job (you just sit there responding to alarm signals) until I realized that I could read books between alarms. Also, I was a rosy-cheeked college sophomore (this was a summer job). It wasn’t until years later that I realized that a lot of the friendly things those women said to me were actually quite suggestive. Who knows who I’d be today if I had been more in tune to those comments.
- Olive Garden Waiter: For two summers I thought I was going to open a restaurant after college, so I worked as a waiter to see how a restaurant worked. I learned a lot about serving people and customer service. I learned that a lot of tipping stereotypes are true, but I believe in giving people the same level of high service even if they fit into one of those stereotypical groups. I also ate a lot of breadsticks.
- Crab Louie Waiter: The second summer I upgraded to work in a nicer restaurant in my hometown. It really wasn’t all that different from the Olive Garden, but the tips were a little better. It was at this job that I realized that some people make their living by waiting tables, and they get really, really mad when you get the 4-top they wanted. I was not living from paycheck to paycheck, so I often traded tables. One underrated skill set that you’ll learn if you wait tables is memorization on the fly. Not just orders, but also little requests and observations as you dash around. I still have dreams that I forgot to refill the cornbread at table 5.
- Publishing Company Project Manager/Team Leader: For every textbook or scientific journal, there’s a publisher who finds the authors and gets them to write the book, there’s a middle man who managers all the copyeditors, typesetters, proofreaders, and authors to make the book perfect, and there’s a printer who actually prints the book. I was the middle man for 4 years. During that time I had one of the kookiest bosses I’ll ever have and also one of the best bosses. My coworkers were awesome. We ate lunch together every day and had a blast. It was the perfect first post-collegiate job.
- Newman Center Director of Operations: This is my current job. I’m the business director for a Catholic Church on a college campus. I manage the staff, the finances, the volunteers, and the contractors. I handle communications and conflicts. And I run our large annual fundraising event. If you ever want to work with truly good-hearted people, work at a nonprofit. When there’s no corporate ladder to climb, you’d be surprised at the tenacity of the human spirit.
- Co-Founder of Blank Slate Press: My ongoing passion project is a small fiction publishing startup here in St. Louis. I handle the application process, some of the marketing, and some editorial work. I’m in constant contact with our authors. We’re currently accepting applications for our next novelist.
How many jobs have you had? What’s the oddest one? Which one would you do if it paid $100,000/yr?