08 January 2012

Doing Odd Jobs

I found myself intrigued with this week's Monday Listicles prompt (link at the end)... Squashed Mom suggested we write about our Top Ten Strange (odd/unusual/funny/interesting) Jobs we may have had. And if you haven't had ten jobs yet...well, wow. That's cool, I guess. Then you can give us ten things about your working life that are funny/odd/whatever that might make a good read. Which is not to say that what follows is necessarily a 'good read'.... 

My very first job (other than babysitting) was cleaning hot tubs and saunas...I lasted one shift. It was just gross. And the lady was weird and super uptight. It was valuable lesson to learn right off the work-force bat that if your entry-level, skill-less job is a lousy fit, you can just go find another one.

I traded hot tubs for telephones. I was a telemarketer (#2) for texture coating for houses...cold-calling people at dinner time. It was the most demoralizing job EVER. I remember tallying one night that in my 3-hour shift minus 15-minute break I called 225 people and had only 2 people respond favorably. This was not because I sucked at this sucky job. I actually did really well ... I have a great phone voice and great phone manners when the situation warrants these things. Only 2 people responded favorably because no one wants telemarketer a**holes to call them at dinner time...or EVER. Unless they are super lonely. The things I hated the most about the job (other than just the job) were:

  • calling mobile home parks...because you cannot use this stupid product on a mobile home! 
  • calling the military base...because the residents cannot decide to do anything to their homes :P 
  • calling a number and asking for someone who had passed away or was super ill :( 

Lame product. Lame job. Not lame worker.

This segued into being a coffee jerk (#3)...now called a "barista" in fashionable circles. Neither one of the happy people in the picture below is me, but that is the actual café in which I worked. I could make a wicked cappuccino. I don't drink coffee myself (remember, it makes me like Hammy in Over the Hedge), but I was really good at making it :)

My most favorite job ever was being a rowing coach (#4). I remember tooling around in my little motorboat on a beautiful sunny spring day saying aloud to myself..."I can't believe they pay me to do this!" Of course, they weren't paying me very much. And the job was seasonal at the high school level. The pay wasn't much better when I moved up to the collegiate level, but it was a year round position.

And this fed into the opportunity to be a ...community college instructor!(#5) My class was Learn to Row. I taught this for a few semesters. There were people from all walks of life, all ages, all sizes, all different levels of athletic ability. It was a total trip. It was way harder than coaching because high school and college kids listen a whole lot better than stubborn grown-ups.

Somewhere around this coaching time, I also was a mail-order company coordinator (#6). I had this job for 3 years. This was the only job I ever got fired from. There was a lot of tension due to a new (and useless) 'general manager' who just plain ol' didn't like me. And when my co-worker was pissed at me and said, "F*** you, XL" to me, I didn't just walk away. I said it back. But louder. The GM heard me say it. Only me. I was told to pack my things and leave. No warning. No second chance. Just leave.

So disappointing because I was so great with bubble wrap, peanuts and a tape gun.

Another guy who left that company around the same time I did started a black market t-shirt selling business. He had a line of shirts with great rowing graphics to sell at big regattas. He needed a selling buddy (#7), and I certainly had the time and needed the money since I had just been canned. I am so glad I blog anonymously...

We were like this...only it was shirts not hats. 
And we sold them out of a sneaky duffel bag and not a big blue coat. 
It wasn't within the letters of the law, and we did have to keep our eyeballs peeled,
and we did end up needing to jump into the bushes and run up wooded hills to escape.

I did a stint as a florist delivery driver (#8). I became intimately familiar with the entire city of Philadelphia and most of its outlying areas. I was working three jobs at that time...three jobs and over 80 hours a week. I couldn't hack the hours and still train effectively (this was back when I was rowing). I quit right after Valentine's Day ...which was the most insane workday I have ever experienced.

One of the other of the three jobs I was holding down simultaneously was that of nightclub coat-check girl (#9). I was holed up in a little room at the Trocadero Nightclub. You give me a dollar, I hang your coat up and give you a ticket. DO NOT LOSE THE TICKET! Your coat stays safe while you dance, drink and try to hook up. Did I mention you need the ticket to get your coat back? This was the best job I ever had...except for the hours. I raked in tips like nobody could believe. I made more than the bartenders and cocktail waitresses. I had goals, people. At first I tried to get a quarter of the people who checked a coat to tip me at least a dollar. When that was happening regularly, I upped it to one third of my patrons. And then I went for half. I was really quick and efficient and friendly. I know...you're thinking "BFD, girl...you were a friggin' coat check girl." Yeah, but I was a damn good one.

So years and years go by... and I decide that grad school is a waste of time and money. I realize I hate waiting tables. I want to be a teacher, but I also want to make some money. I'm going to be a realtor (#10). I do the coursework, I pass the test, I buy the cute suit. But I'll tell ya...it is really hard to be a realtor without a car.


But it was a bad year for real estate anyway. And that was the year I met my future husband and his six children. So I decided to give it all up for love :P

This never happened. Ever. I don't think it really EVER happens.

Head on over to Stasha's NorthWest Mommy and tell us about your weird jobs!


  1. My worst job ever - cleaning ashtrays out at a bar! It's probably illegal in most places now. Gum + ash = sticky disgusting mess.

  2. All those jobs and you only got fired once? Amazing. (-:

  3. Wow! That's a lot of weird jobs - I love the pic of the packing girl.

    I don't think I had any official 'weird' jobs - one summer I babysat for a sales person of my dad's company so she could work part-time from home. I took care of her son in one end of the house and she worked from the other.

    I did have a terrible job in a toy store. My first job - I was a junior in high school and the store was horribly managed. I was kind of running the store within the first 2 weeks, I was the only one who had a clue. I quit after a month. Horrible place.

  4. I never did telemarketing, but I did do telephone surveys. That was much better...you aren't asking people to spend their money, just answer some questions. But they were LONG surveys. Some were like 45 minutes long. And I was great at it, but sometimes I could hear their kids in the background and know that they were stressing over the stuff they should be doing, and I'd silently root for them to just hang up.

  5. Your posts are always so entertaining, you have to be one of the most interesting people I "know". :)

    I worked in a credit collection call center for a stint. It was not fun. Most our calls were incoming, where people were angry that they couldn't get credit to buy their Dell computer. Every so often before a caller came on the line, some magical little phone voice would warn that it was an angry caller (there was an official term for it but I've blocked it out). I still have nightmares about some of those calls. Early Saturday mornings we made the outgoing calls... that might be worse than dinner time.

  6. see, all these jobs taught you so much than any text book right??
    I've done a lot of very fun things and I love this writing prompt. Might jump on it :)

  7. In the grand scheme of things, I've never really had a BAD job - none of them were "gross". I consider myself blessed.

  8. OK, what is wrong with me that I had troublke focusing after the chicken hot tub pic?! Will have to try again later, maybe have one of the kids scroll past it for me! Ha ha ha ha!!!

  9. All I can think about is the pictures of soaking chickens.


  10. I was a barista for 2 days once. Didn't work out too well.

  11. Wow, you've had a lot of interesting jobs! I think coat check girl would be good for me...I'm not much of a people person, and it doesn't seem like you'd have to chat much. I may be wrong...and tips are always good!

  12. Funny, I did three weeks doing "phone sex"...well, we were trying to screw people out of their money over the phone... Did not make a dime. Commission sales suck.

  13. Cool beans. I guess being told to pack up at the packing company is the ultimate...
    I cannot imagine you as a realator, you are way too cool! Great list!

  14. Bah ha ha! My second job involved cleaning chickens. I didn't eat chicken for three years. It's still not my favorite....

  15. I'm impressed. I don't drink coffee but still don't think I could make it if I had to.
    That's a lot nifty little jobs!

  16. that is a lot of jobs!
    barista that would be a good one for me..I think...

    I had a few jobs back in the day...picking potatoes in the summer was the worst for sure!

  17. I "walked beans" one summer for my uncle that is a farmer in the midwest. Horrible, hot, boring miserable job. You couldn't pay me enough to do that again.

    Other than that I've had some pretty great jobs ~ lifeguard and swim instructor in high school so I could work on my tan and chat with my friends while getting paid. I pulled a ton of kids out of the water while their moms were working on their tans. At least I was watching at the same time.

    Clerk at a $1 type store in college and also prepared tax returns while getting my accounting degree. Not that exciting but nothing gross either.

    Accountant/Auditor after college. I LOVED auditing but now I have three kids and traveling for work is out of the question. Someday I would love to get back into it but for now I own my own accounting and bookkeeping company and work from home. Its perfect!

  18. @lovetoread600 -- what on earth is "walking beans?"

    @XL - that's one fabulous job history!

    my weirdest job... hmm...(grocery clerk, retail stuff, office admin, and now research/teaching... not really weird...)
    my first "work study" job in college involved the campus dining hall. One morning, after peeling hard boiled eggs for 3 hours, I left with bloody fingers, and found a job in a research center on campus THE NEXT DAY. (I still like to cook -- just not 200+ eggs at a time!)

  19. LOL - Great list! I especially loved the coat check girl ;)

    I was going to comment about how you could not like coffee and be a barista but then again, I sold shoes and I hate feet.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Looking forward to reading more :)

  20. This has to be the start of a book....like one of those great old movies like "The Out of Towners" with Jack Lemmon. Where things just keep getting crazier and crazier. You have done lots of sales. The cold calling. Wow. You have my admiration. Too funny.

  21. Wow! I don't think I have ever been somewhere that has a coat check! I bet the drunk people at the end of the night gave the best tips!


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