So I'm in my final year of business school and the fact that most of my classmates are concentrating on finding their next job is becoming painfully obvious. Mostly because I have no idea what to say when they ask me what my plans are. I just don't feel the pressure to lock something down yet, to be honest. I mean, I'm graduating in May and if I knew what I was going to be doing already it might feel a little constricting.
However, it probably makes sense to think about it more...and in so doing I was thinking back on all the jobs I had back when I just had to find something to do. And so, ranked from worst to best:
9. Door-to-Door Vacuum Cleaner Salesperson - Claremore, Oklahoma.
I totally sucked at this. My friend JR told me I could make a lot of money though and I fell for it. Anyone every buy a Kirby? Well, not from me you didn't. I BARELY sold one to my mom, and even that was after she negotiated the price down to where I was basically selling at cost. In retrospect she should have been the one trying to sell those damn things. I gave a demo to my high school English teacher and got some lipstick off her carpet though, so I guess something good came out of it.
8. Restaurant Host at Brasserie T, Northfield, Illinois.
Another crappy job. I got chewed out by the chef-owner for not answering the phone with the full mandatory greeting. Something like, "Thank you for calling the Brasserie T, this is Jeremy at your service, how can I help you this evening?" I mean, that's just a lot to say when you're trying to help someone. My idea was to just say "Brasserie T" to verify they called the right place and get down to brass tacks. Reservations? No problem. Left your jacket behind? Let's go look. But no...I had to engage the poor callers with a five minute introduction guaranteed to mutually annoy. Even more annoying were the uppity northshore Chicago clientele. I was once summoned to a table to be told that it was too warm. When I said I would adjust the thermostat the patron's reply was, "Yes, you will." I cranked it up to 80 degrees after that. Who did that guy think he was? I lasted two weeks.
7. Lawn Mower - Claremore, Oklahoma.
This is not a good occupation for someone extremely allergic to any kind of grass. Like me. That didn't really seem to bother my dad though, and as I was eager to make the measly $25 per week he offered for the task I swallowed my seldane, put on my facemask, and hopped on the tractor. That's right. Tractor. I got to where I could manouvre that thing around oak trees and around the large sandstone outcropping our our front yard. Two sheared acres later I had to go back and rake that crap up, which was really the part that killed me. I did like some things about this job though - since the engine was so loud and I was wearing a facemask (think Japanese person with a cold at Shinjuku Station) I would sing at the top of my lungs and nobody knew how off-pitch I was. The benefits ended there. Aside from the $25, of course.
6. Substitute Teacher - Claremore, Oklahoma.
One of the benefits of living in a small town is the ability to take jobs for which you are in no way qualified. Other places get bogged down with checking for things like credentials, but not Claremore, Oklahoma. My college started very late in the academic year (last week of September) and my winter break also overlapped a large part of the local school calendar, so I thought this might be a relatively easy way to make a buck while away from college. Whoops! Those little shits.
Once a male student was being ridiculed for wearing women's jeans to school (remember Jordache?). I got annoyed because I knew his family was poor (as many families were in my town) and his mom probably got them at the Goodwill without thinking about it. I had clothes from Goodwill also, at least when they didn't come from Wal-Mart. Normally I'm pretty mellow but in this case I think I set a record for number of students kicked out of class in a five minute period. There were a few rewarding moments though...like when one student said I was "tough, but fair." I took that as a compliment.
5. Sales Associate at the Gap - Utica Square, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
This job was okay, except that the store was 40 minutes from my house and paid minimum wage, which was like $4.25 or something ridiculous. I basically spent my paycheck on gas and clothes. Then there were the times that I was "on call" and never knew if I had to come in or not, which was kind of bullshit. Once I remember going to Lake o' the Cherokees with my family and getting called in...I sort of checked out after that. On the bright side, I set a record for highest sale when some crazy woman from NW Arkansas came in and spent over $1,000 (this was 1994 or something) on back-to-school clothes for her three kids. I guess she didn't want to make the drive back empty handed.
This job had another very positive influence on my life though - for the first time I worked with someone who was openly gay. I would hear stories about his adventures at a local gay bar, the "Tool Box." Yeah, Tulsa is a classy town. Then there were all the Oral Roberts University students who worked there and were totally closeted. It was kinda weird when they would flirt with me and then talk about their girlfriends. Except that I did the same thing.
4. Football Recruiting Video Maker - Claremore, Oklahoma.
Now we're getting somewhere! I was slight in high school (late bloomer again...) and didn't really play many sports outside of soccer. But that doesn't really matter. In my town all that mattered was that I didn't play football. Always looking to make lemonade, I decided I would contract my services to videotape the kids cool (and big) enough to play on Friday nights. They could then edit the footage and send the tapes to college recruiters. I know at least one player got a scholarship to play at Kansas State through this arrangement. And I got to film close-ups of the football players, so it was a win-win.
3. Geography Teaching Assisstant - Evanston, Illinois.
This was just easy. Grading the weekly quiz was about the extent of my duties, but the benefit was getting to hear the wisecracks the professor had for some of the people in the class after hours. And I got to take out vengeance on the students who didn't know where the Ouachita Mountains were.
2. Sales Associate at Rand McNally - Skokie, Illinois.
As far as retail goes I was like a kid in a candy store. I got to sell maps. And talk to people about their vacations. Nuf said.
1. Church Security Guard - Evanston, Illinois.
I have to credit my friend Slacky for finding this gig first; I got to take over when she moved on to bigger and better things. Although nobody would come out and say it, my job was basically to keep homeless people out of the building where Sunday School classes were held. Since there weren't really that many homeless people, I basically sat in the lobby and got paid to study. I specifically remember learning a lot about meteorology during this time. Oh, I had to turn the lights off and adjust the heat before I left too. I mean, it's not like I did absolutely nothing. Okay, so at times I would read the postcards the choir director would send from his vacations to Key West and Provincetown when locking up the office. So I did that too.