Sunday, October 14, 2007
Hi, I missed scribbling last Sunday. This Sunday’s prompt is about jobs: first, worst and dream. Please, don’t get me going. OK, do.
I’d have to say that I had two “first” jobs—the kind that happen before the “real” job. I made my first money by babysitting. This was back in the day when I felt rich if I made $2 an hour. Of course, I remember when gas was $0.28/gallon also. Ah, the price wars back then!
I babysat a lot. I have a brother 12 years younger than myself and he was my first victim. I learned first hand how to care for infants. This made me popular in the neighborhood and I soon had a few steady gigs. I took care of the neighbor’s 4 children, sometimes for days at a time while the parents vacationed. They didn’t pay well and their house was total chaos. For clothes, there were two piles, clean and dirty. I just moved the clothes from one pile to the other at the end of the day. The house was constantly under construction and was cluttered beyond belief. One daughter only ate cereal and white bread. We figured without all the fortifications in both, she would have been malnourished. I had a major triumph on day when I discovered that everyone in the family liked corn-on-the-cob including the cats.
Generally babysitting went well. I met some hippie-types in Seattle who kept their heat down so low I had to wear my coat in the house. There was an awkward moment when their little son asked me to read him one of those sex-ed books for little kids. I wasn’t quite ready to share the birds and bees at that time in my own life.
I babysat for my cousins which was great fun. I’d stay overnight and the next morning would get to share the Sunday paper and breakfast with my aunts and uncles. I got hooked on the Sunday crossword puzzle that way. For a time I was pretty good at it too. I think my favorite thing about babysitting, besides the money, was getting to eat all the boxed cereals I wasn’t allowed to have at home. Fruit Loops were my favorite. Lucky Stars came in second.
My other job was gift wrapping. During the Christmas rush, I would help at the jewelry store where my mother worked by wrapping boxes. Fortunately jewelry boxes are nice and square and easy to wrap. At times they would be sent back for rewrapping because I wasn’t tidy enough. If you buy someone an expensive piece of jewelry you have the right to a good wrap job.
My worst job was what drove me into working for myself. Actually there was another worst job two jobs before that too. This stuff gets too messy to put in a public forum. Suffice to say that one job was too much like living in a dysfunctional family and did not give me enough room for professional growth. The hours were awful and I was burning out, fast. The prior worst job ended due to extreme workplace politics and a “whistle-blower” situation I unwittingly got into. Sometimes having ethics and a conscience can be a liability in the workplace. I’m happier working for myself although sometimes I miss the intellectual environment and friendships I made in the academic environment. I miss my old dream of doing research too.
I think my dream job doesn’t exist. I wouldn’t even know where to look for it. I will tell you one other dream I have. It is to go on a sabbatical. I vary between locations: England, France, or New Zealand. Sometimes I go to write a book. Sometimes to learn a new skill or see how medicine works in another country. I think this dream can happen. It is a matter of timing. When you share your life with three other people, timing is critical. There are still a “few” more years left before retirement so I’m not giving up on this dream.
I’m looking forward to hearing about your jobs too. I’m sure some of them put mine to shame.