Saturday, May 16, 2009


A recent bit of Flair made me laugh: I do many things well. None of which generate income. Seven jobs I've held:

1. General Help. My first job was making artificial floral arrangements. I also spray painted plastic flower pots in seasonal colors, swept the factory floor, cleaned the work benches. Walked across a steep roof in order to open up the shop on Saturday. That wasn't bad during good weather but a little dicey in the winter. I loved this job.

2. Sales Associate. I worked in the Lingerie department of Filene's. Not a thrilling job. Got caught by one of the floor managers counting out my change till early one night. He yelled a department away and I jumped and slammed my fingers in the cash drawer.

3. Lab Clerk. Started out as a receptionist, answering the phones, typing up test slips, handing out urine cups. Eventually, I became a float helping out in the different departments. I was taught how to draw blood using wound drains filled with water and a few brave co-workers. I was the test for new phlebotomists since I have such tiny veins. If they could easily draw my blood, they were qualified to go to the Nursery, Pediatrics, and ICU. I helped out a lot in Microbiology plating specimens. You name it; I had my hands in it. Literally, this in the days before gloves were required. I had to leave this job when the state mandated one had to have a 4 yr med tech degree and be certified on a state exam in order to work in a hospital laboratory. I didn't have enough years experience to get me in under the grandfather clause.

4. Girl Friday. I worked for a cement company. Took orders by phone and sent the orders to one of the plants by teletype machine, dispatched trucks, resolved billing problems. Sat in on a weekly sales meeting as the my sales manager was grooming me for the position of Office Manager. The promotion never happened. When it came time to move up, Corporate decided I wouldn't be effective because of being female even though I had done the work for two years. However, they did want me to train the new male office manager. I went out on my lunch hour and got a new job. Tendered my resignation. I told the regional manager it was ludicrous for me to train the office manager if I couldn't be the office manager. He said he was very disappointed in me. "Not half as much as I'm disappointed in you. If a company can't appreciate me for my dedication, integrity and service, quite frankly, the company can go to hell." I was 24 or 25 at the time. The regional manager told my boss, "Still waters run deep." It's the best compliment I've received even though it wasn't meant as a compliment.

5. Inside Sales. This time for a food brokerage. During the interview, the boss wanted to know if I'd be able to handle the job. I told him I was doing the same job only shipping cement. Didn't seem much different to me if I was shipping bags of cement or bags of frozen potatoes. I was hired on the spot. (On my lunch hour, see #4)

6. After I graduated from computer school, I went to work for my uncle's steel distribution company. I was in charge of the computer room. Responsible for printing all the month end and year end reports. Franny, one of the outside programmer/consultants gave me some training in programming on the new mini computer. I proudly showed her what I had written. She smiled and then slammed her hand against the keyboard. The program crashed and burned epicly. She taught me a programmer had to think of every possible input especially the wrong ones. She sent me back so I included rude little phrases that would pop up if the operator input incorrect responses. I thought this assignment was just something fun for me to do. Had no idea she used the module in a real program for the Purchasing Manager. Some of the rude phrases (What ah you...) popped up while the manager was working. He came back to tell me he loved them. We became good friends. When I had paid my dues and was ready to move up, he was the one who encouraged me to go out and find another position. He gave me a programmer's ruler which I still have and is a valued possession.

7. Letter Programmer. I programmed junk mail for a marketing company. Amazing and frightening the information they collected. Most of what I programmed were form letters from colleges hitting up the alum for donations. Every morning, we went to a meeting called "Shove". Basically, it was confession. You told the manager what you were working on, what you were having problems with (if sales sent you the wrong tape to use) or the printer jammed. If you had nothing in your queue, you were given another assignment. Work was sometimes slow and the bosses didn't like to see us sitting around doing nothing. We worked across the street from a mall so after shove, we'd go to the mall. Then go back to see if there was more work. If nothing came in, we'd go to lunch at the mall. The work wasn't challenging, but it was a cushy job.

As you can see, I've crossed a few hills. What about you? Have you had any odd or interesting jobs?


  1. You've done it all!

    Here are mine:
    Burger Babe at McDs
    Food Server/Kitchen Help at College Cafeteria
    Library Assistant
    School Teacher

  2. You are responsible for junk mail??? Hmmm... I think you owe some trees an apology.

    As for me? Let's see, Waitress, cook, shop clerk, including ear piercing, phone sales (incoming calls only), storage facility assistant manager, mortgage assistant, summer program leader, desk clerk, oh and a teacher.