Metatalktail Hour: First Job June 2, 2018 5:44 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, Metafilter! (Take 2, since I apparently can't keep track of my own doubles.) This week, I want to hear about your first job! And also your weirdest job. And of course what exciting plans you have for June!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 5:44 PM (150 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

My first job was tutoring other students at my high school. I wasn't very good at it. In hindsight, this may have been what kept me from going into teaching.

The real point of this post, however, is because I just returned from a trip to Atlanta, where I was lucky enough to see Hamilton for the first time. I feel like Metafilter ought to know that, because it is responsible for unleashing said musical on me and my family.
posted by PearlRose at 5:50 PM on June 2 [9 favorites]


My first job was at the main branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. As first jobs go, it was basically the coolest. As a staff member I got free access to the art and natural history museums any time I wanted (and I went to high school two blocks away, so that was basically all the time), and an all access pass to a massive, historic building complex complete with basement hallways full of dinosaur bones and library stacks closed to the public. I was a page, so my job was fetching books from those closed stacks for patrons. Back then, most of the stacks were closed, but they've since opened them and I don't think they employ pages anymore.

My June plans are considerably less exciting now that my son has broken his arm and swimming is off the menu for the time being.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:51 PM on June 2 [12 favorites]


My first job was a waitress in a road-side diner in the small town where I grew up. I had to get special permission from the Ministry of Labour because I was too young to work without it. They wanted to know how I would get to work, and when I said I would walk through the bush to get there, I got the most horrified reaction from the citified bureaucrat. I almost didn't get the needed sign-off because of that.

The bush was just a square block of undeveloped land between the houses and the retail frontage along the highway that everyone walked through and which we played in as children and which had a number of clearly worn paths but I had to promise I would always walk the long way around on the roads to get to work.

Narrative Voice Over: She didn't.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:54 PM on June 2 [16 favorites]


Also, in June, I plan to be called to the Bar. That involves a two hour ceremony in which hundreds of people I do not know will walk across the stage and bow and shake hands with other people I do not know. I'm not sure it counts as exciting.

Narrative Voice Over: It does not.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:55 PM on June 2 [13 favorites]


My first job was being an Elf. My siblings worked at Baskin Robbins in a strip mall, and a Santa and his photographer friend had rented a building across the parking lot from there.

I was 13, and my Mom made me a green flannel vest, skirt, hat, and pointy spats to cover my shoes, all decorated with gold bric-a-brac. I wore a white turtleneck and tights to complement the outfit.

My job was to take the children to sit on Santa's lap. It was not as traumatic as A Christmas Story, by any means, and I think I did a good job. I'd had previous experience as a babysitter, and I was good with the little ones. Was probably paid under the table, maybe $1.35 an hour or so, as I recall.

I did get to go to lunch with the guys at the nearby Denny's. Both of whom treated me with the utmost respect. I do remember one of them, probably the photographer, drove an MG, which was considered very cool at the time.

All in all, I got to dress up, got paid, and had fun. Would do it again.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:58 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


My first job was at Sam Goody, in an honest to god mall. The manager was a clone of the dude in High Fidelity. The job lasted all of a month, because the store closed right after Christmas. This was way before Napster, so I have no idea what happened, but it wasn’t working out on my end anyway and the closure saved me the bother of giving notice.

I haven’t had a lot of super weird jobs in my life. I’ve had some entertaining bosses, though. My favorite one kept a hula hoop in her office for the express purpose of taking self-important clients down a peg. Another had a habit of saying “that’s exactly right” when he didn’t actually agree with you at all.
posted by eirias at 5:59 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


First job: In 8th grade, my dad got me an internship/summer-job type thing (I don't think I was paid) with the wife of one his colleagues; she owned a software-training business. I spent most of the summer, when I wasn't making copies and such, being a guinea pig for the trainers wanting to see if they could train me. It would have been the late 80s and mainly they trained me on "Harvard Graphics." I remember on my last day they let me make whatever design I wanted, and I did a winter scene with buildings and dozens and dozens of individual star-shapes as snowflakes, and the one-page image took three hours to print.

First paid job was waitressing at an Italian restaurant where we got paid only in tips and had no idea that was illegal. The owner yelled at me once when a couple left me a very big tip (I mean, I was in high school, so it was like twenty bucks), because he thought I didn't deserve it or they made a mistake or something, and he wanted to take it for himself. Dude in the couple ended up yelling at him.

Weirdest job is just being a therapist, in all the various settings I've done that. There's always something a little weird about realizing I'm sitting in a room with a new client, a stranger, and I'm supposed to cure their mental illness by talking. It works, a lot of the time, but it's weird.

***

June! I am still working toward my hiking 100 miles by Solstice goal; I got to 51.5 today.

I learned yesterday who's taking over for my boss when she retires at the end of July and also that my job is basically doubling, though I think I'm losing some parts of it so maybe it's just 1.5-ing, and I will soon (like, in a few weeks) have two bosses and five work locations and my current boss (whom I adore) is framing this -- I think genuinely -- as a vote of confidence in me, so I'm trying to get into cautiously optimistic mode. It should really be a good opportunity to make sure our mental-health system is focused on recovery, not just symptom-management, and assuming I am allowed and/or can fight for my vision of how these teams should run, I think it'll be good. If a LOT of work, much of it on the inspiring/cheerleading/visionary side, which I always find exhausting. But I really believe in this sort of system transformation, so I'm willing and getting ready to push for it.
posted by lazuli at 6:00 PM on June 2 [11 favorites]


Oh, I forgot the fish job! When I got to college I had to get a work-study job, and I had no idea that students were supposed to angle for jobs in the departments in which they were going to major in order to buddy up with their professors, so I just looked for jobs that sounded cool. I was an English major and I spent a full year in an ichthyology lab transferring fish specimens from old jars of (bad? old?) preservatives into new jars of (rubbing?) alcohol. I wore gloves but my hands smelled like alcohol my entire freshman year. I got to see all kinds of very cool fish, however, including the deep-sea ones that have little lights on antennae that dangle in front of their faces. And I occasionally had to correct a label, which meant I got to go on the computer and enter things into an internetted DOS-based system, including my name, so I have no idea what the database was, but I think that, at least for a while, my name was officially associated with important fish specimens, which makes me happy.

After that year I worked at the Center for Jewish Studies, which also had nothing to do with my major but the work was more writing/editing. The secretary always had kosher sweets available, so those were years of Pepperidge Farm cookies and See's chocolate lollipops.
posted by lazuli at 6:09 PM on June 2 [14 favorites]


My first job was at Dunkin Donuts—worked there my last two years of HS and then the owner always saved a spot for me when I came home on breaks from college. If I walk into a DD today the smell immediately takes me back!

In other news, but same topic—I found out on Thurs that my dept at my current job is being eliminated. In 2 months I’ll be out of work. I’ve worked there for 18 years and didn’t see this coming. I’m still pretty much in shock and am trying not to panic, but I haven’t interviewed or written a resume in 18 years. It’s been a rough weekend.
posted by bookmammal at 6:09 PM on June 2 [13 favorites]


First job was the ice boy at a convience store on a military base. I filled bags of ice from ice makers out back of the store and filled the chest coolers. I moved up to cashier within a couple of months.

Weirdest job was hustling tourists with a Polaroid camera and a life size photo of Ronald Reagan in front of the Air & Space Museum the summer of 1987.

I'm in a curling league during June. I'll be curling the next 4 weeks.
posted by COD at 6:12 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


The first things I did to earn money were raking leaves and shoveling snow. I charged a dollar a bag for a giant contractor bag of leaves and $10 a driveway. A case study in early and enduring underpayment if ever there was one. I also sold candy at school at exhorbitant prices and cleaned cat show cages on weekends. Sadly, most of this money went to buy groceries for me and my siblings and with what was leftover I bought stickers at the tiny stationery shop in the way home from school.

The first w-2 job I had was as a hostess at a busy restaurant back in the days when smoking sections still existed and entire restaurants reeked of stale smoke. All the mashed potatoes, chicken soup, and brown bread I could eat. It was heavenly and while it took a while to be good at it, the job was not hard.

My plans for June include having been surprised with a trip to Europe and working as much as feasible while there for my new job. I leave on Thursday and have been reading the various asks about a few cities. I’d be more stressed out if there was more time to plan. I’m excited but also feel a lot of guilt about accepting this very generous nice thing. The airfares were inexpensive and the trio is necessary for the person taking me, so that helps.
posted by bilabial at 6:13 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


My first real job for which I needed a social security number and a work permit and all of that, rather than babysitting or mowing lawns, was selling bagels and making sandwiches in a bagel bakery. It was basically nonstop sexual harassment, and in retrospect I should have quit pretty much right away, but I was really proud of myself for sticking it out for most of the summer.

I am not sure that I have ever had a really strange job. I was in a lot of focus groups for a while. I had a focus group wrangler who would tell me what they were looking for, and I may have been a little flexible with the truth to make sure that I fit the specifications. I got paid good money to talk about advertisements for things like Hallmark cards. It was kind of fun but also kind of depressing.

My exciting plans for June are to survive without quitting my job or getting fired. Work is going to be sort of hellish this month. If I can make it to July 4th, everything should be smooth sailing after that.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:17 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


bookmammal, *hugs* if you want them. That sounds really hard.
posted by lazuli at 6:17 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


My first job was a nurse’s aid at a convalescent home for ancient nuns.
My weirdest was driving the beer cart at a ritzy country club. It totally sucked and I think it’s the only job I ever walked out on. I learned a lot about myself when I realized I would rather change a soiled brief on an aggressive old nun with Alzheimer’s than flirt with a rich golfer for a $50 tip while I lit his macanudo. I went back to the nuns.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:19 PM on June 2 [24 favorites]


First job: When I turned 16, I started working at Mailboxes Etc. after school, on weekends, and in the summer. (Also went back for a few summers and winter breaks from university.)

God, I think about that job and I just think about how it was a ton of responsibility for a teenager and is the hardest job I’ve ever had to this day. NONE of the customers particularly wanted to be there. Some were nicer than others about it, but it was not usually far from the surface.

(Through this job I met the woman who gave me a second job, hiring me to do night janitorial work for her company, Klean Klean Klean. I didn’t last long. It wasn’t too hard, it was just boring AF. I went back down to just one job after a week of kleaning.)

Hang in there, bookmammal. You got this.
posted by veggieboy at 6:23 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]


My first job was working as kitchen staff for a youth summer camp in northern Ontario. I did that for three summers in a row, including the summer of the giant, multi-day east coast blackout. I really loved working there and sometimes wish that I could have somehow made it a full time thing.

This topic is especially relevant to me as I had a terrible week at work and am planning on going into the office on Monday and resigning. I've been job hunting for a few months without much luck while also working 12 hour days, trying to make my current job more manageable. It isn't helping.

Also this week I applied for what is essentially my dream job. I have very modest dreams: Data entry. Reasonable working hours. Walking distance from my house. So if anyone is into sending over good vibes, I would appreciate it.
posted by janepanic at 6:23 PM on June 2 [14 favorites]


I'm in a curling league during June. I'll be curling the next 4 weeks.

Curling is a summer sport?? I had no idea. (Or are you in the Southern Hemisphere?)
posted by eirias at 6:25 PM on June 2


Good vibes to you, janepanic!
posted by lazuli at 6:25 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


First job - for a national IT department serving manufacturing plants (for a multinational soft drink company) all over the country. Entire staff was racist and sexist and took a 2 hour pub break every lunch leaving no support in place. And the office was the first building outside the fence of an airport runway so at least once a week you’d be running for the exits when a plane took off late and looked to be heading for the building. I lasted 2 weeks and never looked back after I quit.
posted by valleys at 6:25 PM on June 2


First job: Feeding papers into a scanner document feeder for the company my father worked for. I was just barely old enough for a work permit, and I think I could only work 20 hours a week, but, hey, show me another 14-year-old who knows how to diagnose faults in a high-throughput OCR system, or what a SCSI terminator is and why you need one.

Weirdest job: One summer when I was home from college, my father put me in touch with a guy one of his coworkers knew, who ran a small TV/media company in the area where I grew up. "Oh [coworker] got a great gig there overnight swapping tapes!" Father neglected to mention that [coworker] was married to the owner's sister, which may have influenced his pay and his perception of the gig. I got paid so little that I was losing money on gas driving out to their office. On the bright side I learned all about fedex and business phone etiquette, which has served me well, even if I quit after a month when I realized the money wasn't working out..
posted by Alterscape at 6:25 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


Working at a Dairy Queen. I wasn't lactose-intolerant then, so could have been worse.

But the best news is that I have a new grandbaby, healthy 8 lbs, sweet and snuggly. Son and gf are thrilled.
posted by theora55 at 6:28 PM on June 2 [20 favorites]


bookmammal, I'm sorry to hear that. I hope it works out for you.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:33 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


First job: a place called Mama's Pizza where we made pizzas but shrink-wrapped them before cooking them. Thus, we could accept food stamps which was a significant part of our business, but we also had a lot of confused people who ordered and were disappointed to not to get a cooked pizza. No, we said, we don't have an oven in the back to cook it for you. Also, "Mama" (the owner) carried a revolver in her purse (a pistol packing mama!) and was against us taking the legally mandated breaks during the workday.

This month, I intend to take my four cylinder personal airplane across the country and back for I think the fifth or sixth time. I guess I am getting jaded about it, but it remains an adventure. The worst is crossing high terrain (the mountain west) during the heat of the afternoon - heavy relentless turbulence. This year I plan to pad my schedule a little to get those flights done in the early morning. But there are always amazing views and interesting experiences in new places (though I seem to spend a night in Amarillo more often than not).
posted by exogenous at 6:41 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


I started working at a feed store when I was 14, and did it all through high school. When I started I could barely lift 50 pound sacks and load them. By the time I graduated I could load 100 pound sacks with one on each shoulder. It was a good workout regimen.

Then I became a telephone operator, right before the old cord boards became digital. I can sell anybody anything over the phone, and you will be delighted that you bought it, because that was some intense one-on-one training right there.

June is going to be rough because my counterpoint in the payroll office will be away for two weeks and it's brutal when we're both here so I guess it's going to be real brutal. There will not be any time for fooling around for sure.

On the upside, it finally quit raining after one solid week of Alberto, and everything looks green and verdant right now. The remaining canopy trees have leafed out and there's some shade to be found.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:51 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


My first summer job in college was making collections calls for a small manufacturer. Their customers sucked and all paid late. I spoke to a lot of angry people that summer and received a lot of angry voicemails. I can remember dreading checking my messages. I’m pretty sure it’s why I still hate making phone calls and checking my voicemail when I see I have a message.

I know, Metafilter: therapy.
posted by bkpiano at 6:59 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


My first (and probably weirdest) job was working in food services at Knott's Berry Farm. Most of that summer was spent selling churros from a cart within sight of Montezuma's Revenge, the Mexican Hats, and the Dragon Swing. (I got to hear lots of people screaming.)

Not coincidentally, I have a deep-set aversion to churros.

I'm spending June writing a conference paper, doing research for two other projects, and then heading to England at the end of the month for the conference that goes with the conference paper. Somewhere in there, I have to move to a new office in my department; my attempts to jettison books in order to lighten the load have not been what you'd call successful.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:01 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]


The first W-2 job I had was at a coffee shop at the mall, where part of my uniform consisted of a tuxedo shirt and a green bow tie. I had red hair at the time, so it was actually fairly flattering, and my high school boyfriend thought it was adorable. They called me Little Red.

The weirdest job I had ever had was serving as bodyguard for Rancid's tour bus one January night in PVD over 20 years, but because Tim Armstrong is a horrible person whom I will never forgive for as long I live, I got stiffed out getting paid for that one. Huh, now that I think about it, the longest grudge I have ever held in my life is against Tim Armstrong.

This month, I am preparing for, having, and recovering from surgery. Right now I'm in the planning stage, as I'm still not terribly mobile yet, so I'm making lists of what needs to get done before the surgery and checking off what I can, like arranging for my mom to take Kid Ruki to her road test, which is scheduled for four days after, and queuing up my Netflix and Prime watch lists.

I came very close to making Kid Ruki snarf coffee out her nose today. We were driving to pick up a friend of hers and I unexpectedly started crying because I am going through PMDD for the last blessed time. She parked in front of his house and asked me in alarm, "Ma, Ma, why are you crying?"

"Because I won't be able to have children anymore and I thought to myself, well, I could freeze my eggs, but they're taking my uterus, so what am I going to do with them? And you don't want biological children of your own, so why would you want to have MY biological children? So, what then? Wait until the grandkids are old enough and give them the world's worst Hanukkah gift? Bubbe loves you! Here are my frozen eggs!"

When her friend got in the car, he found Kid Ruki and I both wiping tears from our eyes and laughing hysterically. It was wonderful.
posted by Ruki at 7:07 PM on June 2 [23 favorites]


First job was as an old-fashioned paper boy on a bicycle throwing the evening paper at front porches when I was 11 or 12. Writing that out now makes me think that anyone under the age of 30 would look at me like I was a time traveler from the 19th century if I told them that.

Weirdest job was probably doing customer phone support for house paint stores working for a big paint company here in Pittsburgh. I had to spend all day on the phone talking to guys like Dwane at Booneville Hardware in Booneville, AK who needed the pigment formula for Hunter Green in an Interior Satin. I'd either tell the formula over the phone using military codes for letters (Able, Baker, Charley, etc) or print it out and then feed it through a fax machine.

June will be consumed by painting and cleaning the outside of our house and generally getting ready to be one of the six houses on a garden and wine tour of the neighborhood. A few hundred people pay $65 to spend the afternoon or evening sitting in six different gardens drinking Paso Robles wine, eating snacks and listening to us talk about our houses. It's fun but exhausting.
posted by octothorpe at 7:22 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


First W-2 job: for a couple of years I worked seasonal retail services at Legoland. I hired workers, coached people through difficult conversations like ‘you must wear deodorant to work’, wrote yearly reviews, fired when apppropriate, scheduled breaks for 30-odd people, handled customer disputes as ‘the manager’, and was responsible for literally thousands of dollars a day in cash.

I was 18 and 19 years old. Perhaps it is particularly Danish to have that much faith in teenagers?

Anyway, I always tell people that my first job was working for Lego and they get very excited. I grew up in Southern California, though, and my second seasonal W-2 job was working for a casino on sovereign reservation land. That one was way weirder.
posted by librarylis at 7:28 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


My mom owned a secretarial service so my first job was making copies, answering phone/taking messages.

My first outside-of-family job was selling nurse/doctor clothing/stuff at a uniform shop.

Weirdest job - designing web pages for a database used to track std's for the state of massachusetts and the cdc.

Second weirdest job: I worked for a comedian for six years.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:28 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


My first-first job was babysitting, but my first job with a W-2 was when I was 16, at a variety store. I got my license on Monday and my mom said to have a job by Friday or I couldn't drive, so I got a job! And I mean, I liked most of the people I worked with and I liked working reasonably well, despite the rampant federal labor law violations and ceaseless sexual harassment, both of which I was too young to realize were Not Okay.

My most unusual job was probably as a research assistant on the Arizona Jury Project, which makes me one of around two dozen people who have seen video tapes of live jury rooms deliberating. The tapes are super-strictly controlled. I mean it was pretty routine "watch tapes, transcribe them, code interactions according to study methodology" but being able to see them was unusual and fascinating. (The top thing I learned is that juries don't believe in back injuries.)

My June is all about getting kids to camp and trying desperately to sort out swimming lessons but apparently their schedules are totally impossible to accommodate!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:34 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]


Aside from my paper route and babysitting (I babysat 24 hours a week for $2/hr the summer of my 13th year), my first W-2 job was as a student hourly office assistant for an academic journal. The most important thing to know, for the purposes of this audience, is that I often wound up doing the old in-out, in-out with a former MeFite in my desk chair many a late evening while ostensibly using the computer to "write papers."

Probably the weirdest job I ever had involved stringing cheap crystal pendants on cords and stuffing them in little velvet pouches as bonus gifts for Psychic Network callers.

As far as exciting plans for June, I think I'm going to rent a skid steer one of these weekends to do some work around The Bee n' Rose. I was raised on "Free to Be You and Me" but I'm still having a hard time convincing myself that renting/operating a skid steer is not something that requires a Y chromosome.
posted by drlith at 7:38 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


First job that I got money for: my dad brought me to work (he was an IT guy, I can't say where) and I had to make a map of every computer on every floor and cross-reference it to some cords on a big board of tangled cords that I think connected to the server or something, in a cold, loud room full of machines. I had to make a map of the cubicles, write down the number on the back of the Ethernet port, and then go find the same number on the first thing and then trace that cord to its connection on the other thing. I don't know why the things had different numbers. It is possible that this was meaningless busywork. It took a whole weekend and he paid me $40, which is probably overly generous. I spent it on CDs because it was 2000 and I was 16.

Later in life, he got me hired as a temp at the same company for the summer and I spent several 8-hour days filing or just putting address labels on postcards, which I really enjoyed (I enjoy that Principal Skinner game of seeing if you can beat your number per hour because I am inherently a boring person.) I think I made $17 an hour, which is ridiculous and was the most I had ever made per hour until I went back to school and became a librarian. It was a travel-related company up a hill in Ventura next door to a Vitamin C factory that got deliveries all the time from big open trucks of lemons, so there were always rotting lemons rolling around on the side of the road since they would spill out. I worked across from a nice lady named Jane who was totally into Wimbledon tennis and surreptitiously looked up the scores at work. She also was a true believer in crop circles, and I don't remember how that ever came up. I regret not emailing her to chat after I left. I once rode to work with my dad's colleague who had a truck on those raised up wheels (my dad nixed the motorcycle.) For some time afterward I knew all the state abbreviations in alphabetical order from all the filing, but I've since lost that. This is the job where I learned that killing time at work is easy if you walk around purposefully and with a clipboard.

The weirdest job I ever had was either the 2 weeks selling mineral makeup in Eureka which I got fired from because I couldn't maintain the facade that I cared about makeup, or it was giving tours at Blue Ox Millworks, which I did right out of college until they couldn't afford me when the construction recession hit. I was meant to be a "Tour Coordinator" with care of all the indoor exhibits, but there really wasn't that much work and even in a working sawmill I was still able to keep up with the sweeping and still have time to fool around with the velocipede jigsaw or hang out with the animals, including geese in a pen that I teased ("I'm out here and you're not! You can't bite me, ha ha ha!" "HONK HONK HONK HISS.") Or Manly, the night watchman's friendly orange cat. Or the oxen, Babe and Blue, who are enormous sweethearts with soft ears.

If money were no object I would either do what I do now, children's librarian, or I would be a dishwasher, because that was the other job I enjoyed the most (little human interaction, wet, many interesting textures, listen to the radio, everyone is grateful for your work because otherwise everything would shut down because no dishes.)
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:45 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]


My first job was at the University of Arizona's Science Library periodical room. My favorite story about that job: For some reason, certain fashion magazines were housed in this room, likely because all the textile manufacturing periodicals were also there. Every now and then people who were in fashion design classes would come in looking for magazines, and frequently came in all around the same several week period. They were also not particularly motivated to use the card catalog (shut up, I'm not old), so instead of even trying, they'd just come over to the information desk and say "Where's magazine ABC?". I finally got to the point where once it was clear a design class had an assignment due, at the start of my shift I'd take all the magazines off the racks, and put them on one of the central tables in the room. Students that looked like fashion design students (you'll have to trust me, they did not look like the physicists or engineers) would come in, look around the room like "oh shit, what do I do?" and take a step towards my desk. Before they could ask, I would simply point at the table with all the magazines they wanted and say "Over there".

My "weirdest" job was a temp job where we were calling banks asking about auto loan rates for a published rate booklet (shut up, I'm not old). But we were told during orientation that if the bank suspected we were calling to update this guide, they'd give us misleadingly low rates in an effort to make themselves look better. So, we were told, pretend to be someone, you know, put on an accent, make up a backstory, etc, etc. My peers could be overheard with fake New York or Texan accents talking about buying a car for mamma, but I was never very good at misrepresenting myself, it made (and makes) me tremendously uncomfortable. My very first call, after my very first question, the person on the other end said "Are you calling to update ABC rate guide?". I finished the call, went to my supervisor and said "I'm sorry, I can't take this pressure", and quit.
posted by Gorgik at 7:53 PM on June 2 [8 favorites]


Oh shoot, I forgot-- I did a work-study scholarship in high school. I was a secretary at a desk in the residential part one day a week. It was incredibly boring because nobody ever came from the desk and the phone almost never rang, and I was meant to sign in and out the residents, but everyone who lived there was either a) a nun, or b) a foreign high-school student with no friends off campus and neither of those populations have cars or go out on Saturday nights. The very elderly nuns who were essentially retired were a bright spot because they would go on extremely slow walks around the building and grounds and would come talk to me and admire my doodles and sometimes nap in the lobby. It was a nice building that had once been a fancy hotel (construction completed: September 1929, hence why it was bought by nuns) but when the sun went down, it got spooky really quick.

Also, my mom and stepfather would come up to drop off dinner in my last hour and hang out until it was time to go home, which was incredibly kind of them.
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:07 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


My first job was as a counselor in training for a local Jewish camp. It... wasn't the greatest time, but that wasn't really the fault of the camp. I was kind of a miserable teenager. When people say their teen years were the best of their lives I want to cry. Luckily my life is better now- so clearly the teen years aren't the greatest. woo hoo!

In other news I accidentally put down on my card club notes that I was graduating this month- but nope! That's next semester. SO I now have 4 cards wishing me happy graduation that... hasn't happened yet. WHOOPS. The cards are all lovely, and I am so glad I joined the card club.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:11 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


" I was raised on "Free to Be You and Me" but I'm still having a hard time convincing myself that renting/operating a skid steer is not something that requires a Y chromosome."

This suddenly reminded me of the time my oldest, who was three at the time, met the late CEO of Caterpillar, whom I knew a little bit both professionally and socially and ran into from time to time. My kid was very into "jobs" at the time and was asking everyone what their job was, and Mr. CEO said, "I work at Caterpillar" and my 3-year-old's eyes got really big and he said, "You work at Ca'erpillar?" "I'm the boss of the whole company!" My three year old goes, "DO YOU GET TO DRIVE A BULLDOZER?" Mr. CEO is like, "No, I'm not allowed to," and my preschooler visibly deflates, and loses all interest in the CEO, because what is the point of working at Caterpillar if you don't get to drive a bulldozer?

(The CEO thought it was very funny.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:21 PM on June 2 [29 favorites]


eirias- I'm in Richmond VA. This is a beginner's league. I think real curling season is fall and winter.
posted by COD at 8:22 PM on June 2



Workin' all day for a mean little man,
with a clip-on tie, and a rub on tan,
He's got me runnin' 'round the office like a dog around the track.
And when I get back home your always there to rub my back.
Chorus:
Hey Julie, look what they're doing to me,
Tryin' to trip me up, tryin to wear me down.
Julie I swear it's so hard to bear it, and I'd never make it through without you
around, no I'd never make it through without you around.
Verse:
Hours on the phone makin' pointless calls,
I got a desk full of paper that means nothin' at all
Sometimes I catch myself staring into space,
Counting down the hours 'till I get to see your face.

Chorus

Bridge:
How did it come to be, that you and I must be far away from each other every
day?
Why must I spend my time fillin' up my mind with facts and figures that never
add up anyway. They never add up anyway.

Verse:
Workin' all day for a mean little guy,
With a bad toupee and a soup-stained tie.
He's got me runnin' 'round the office like a gerbil on a wheel,
He can tell me what to do, but he can't tell me what to feel.<>
/em>


Mine was delivering flyers door to door for a local business.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:30 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


My first job at the tender age of 12 and a half - the legal limit back then - was packing bags at the local grocery store for 5 bucks an hour. I was no stranger to hard work, having grown up helping out on the farm, but the sheer tedium of the job, coupled with the insane number of bags you can pack in an hour, made it very very boring. I haven't had any truly weird jobs. Interesting, sure, but not weird.

Plans for June, hmmm. We have a wedding and it's also my birthday. Really, I'm going to be basically biding time until our Vanuatu holiday in July. My main focus for the month is to get back to my running volume. I've been battling injury in my right foot since about October last year, and had just gotten back up to a mileage on the treadmill I was happy with. Then I went outside for a 10km, and I feel like I'm nearly back to square one, undoing literally 7 weeks of rehab. Ack. No more running outside for me, for a long time.
posted by smoke at 8:32 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


First job, which was also the weirdest was setting trap for a Sunday afternoon Shooting Clays team. It was nerve wracking because, the little building where the machine was, was of course in front of where the shooting was. Add in bees and wasps, and the fact that you never knew when they were gonna 'pull' and if you were slow the target might fly off and shatter every where inside the little building. I had a flag I had to wave if I wanted to leave too.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 8:38 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


I was around 12 or 13 when I started selling fireworks in a stand by the side of a rural highway intersection in east Texas for July 4th and New Year's. It was in front of my dad's convenience store, and you were technically supposed to be 16 to operate a stand, but my dad figured that I could just say I was filling in for a minute and walk up to get him if needed. It was fun to be responsible for the whole thing, setting up the displays, breaking everything down and packing it away every night, pricing and organizing all the different kinds of fireworks. I still love fireworks and currently have sparklers in my junk drawer for random occasions!

Mr.blacktshirtandjeans is taking off a random week off work from this Wed to the next Tuesday, so I am taking off this Friday for a fun three day weekend. He works at Half Price Books so we rarely, if ever, have even a two day weekend together anymore because one of his days off is usually during the week. We are going to go to see at least two art museum exhibitions and sleep in every day. That's enough of a plan!

Also, today I drove to an organic farm about 40 minutes north of Dallas to pick blackberries by myself, something that I had been wanting to do for a couple of years. Got a bucket and went to work, and in thirty minutes, without really realizing it, I had picked over 4 pounds of blackberries! I plan on making the blackberry ice cream from the new Bravetart cookbook, it uses 8 cups of berries! I'll freeze some and give some to my MIL so they will all get used before the summer is up!
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 8:50 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


I worked for my parents since about the age of seven. They owned a greenhouse, nursery, and floral shop. I was very excited when I turned 11 and I was promoted to the register. Psyched to do less of the work out in our hot fields and instead be able to stay at the register where it was nice and cool, and I could read books in between customers. Sometimes to escape work, I hid from my parents. Often that involved me hiding in a cardboard box somewhere. Sometimes I hid in potting soil. Many times I climbed up shelving units to hide because who looks on top of shelving units for a kid? I have the data: no one, that’s who. The older I get, the more I realize my childhood might not have been super normal.

At 16 I was thrilled to get my license so I could drive to the mall and get a job that wasn’t working for my father. That was the best day. I worked in a terrible clothing store in the mall. The store was named Cummings. No, really.
posted by greermahoney at 9:01 PM on June 2 [11 favorites]


Small town New England so lots of snow shoveling and leaf raking as a kid, but my first "go to a place with scheduled hours and do something to get paid for it" was in the Lenox Public Library when I was about 11 or 12. It started off as a volunteer gig. In order to earn the Reading merit badge for Boy Scouts you had to volunteer at a library. I did my volunteer time shelving books, and then they kind of adopted me. 25 cents per hour, and I think I had a few 2-4 hour shifts a week. Then, I helped with inventory one summer and they bumped me up to 50 cents per hour. That was actually enough money for a paperback or two from the bookstore around the corner (called imaginatively "The Bookstore"--there was also an eatery in town called "The Restaurant") or I could get some candy and stuff like Wacky Packs. I loved that job. I got to work in the library! On my own! With very limited adult supervision. I got to use the dumbwaiter and stuff. It was amazing. I'll probably drop in there this summer when I make a trip back to the States. I make a point of visiting any time I can. It's changed a bit but as an historic building not so much. We moved away part way through eighth grade so that was that.

I haven't had that many weird jobs. A few that I was maybe the weird hire for. I got a job at the YMCA teaching English to the Yokohama police. I had just moved to a neighborhood with a very significant red-light district and the cops kept promising/threatening to show me a real good time there since they knew all the best spots. We did a lot role plays of drunken Russian biznismen, drunken British football fans, drunken whatevers. The weird part was that I also had to teach kindergarten. Bit of whiplash to go from one to the other. And, that I was teaching a bunch of cops.

And, for a while when I was having a bit of a rough patch a friend got me a job as a stripper. No, not that kind of stripper. Nobody would want me for that. Two and then four color offset stripper. It was a god gig. Spent a lot of time in darkrooms and probably breathing way too much toxic processing liquids and film and glass cleaner. Paid well and four day full time work week. I almost stuck with it instead of going back to college. Good money and free time when you're 20 is seductive. But, I was there for the last few years of those jobs. They were all gone soon after I left.

Summer plans include a flight back to Boston, MA to see my sister and her husband north of the city. Play around on the dock. Last summer my BIL certified me OK to take out the Boston Whaler on my own. Whee! Eat some lobsters. Maybe go back out to the Berkshires with Mrs Gotanda for a couple of days to visit MASSMOCA. Spend some time with my parents in CT. More lobsters will be consumed. And, good corn. Then come back to Tokyo and sit under the air-conditioning while I write up a paper due 15 September (or is it 1 September? I forget. But it's kind of an artificial deadline.) Maybe squeeze in a quick trip to an island in September too.
posted by Gotanda at 9:02 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]


My first job was at a tourist fudge shoppe in the downtown Charleston, SC market. Frilly apron and all. “Hey! Would y’all care for a free sample of fudge?” Smile. “My favorite flavor is chocolate walnut!” No, it was not, but that was the cheapest to make, so it was in the script. Horrible job. I still hate fudge. You have not experienced nausea until you’ve experienced teenage hangover / period nausea in a small room full of cooking fudge. “Hey! Welcome to Charleston! Where are y’all from? This is a genuine old South Carolina recipe!”

But through that job I got to know some of the market people, which is how I got a job making shell shadow boxes - 3 shells, sand dollar, piece of net, dried seaweed (none of it remotely local) hot glue in a nice arrangement, slide the glass on, look, a tourist will spend 15 eighties dollars on that. And I also had a job demonstrating puppets in the market, which led to a lot of jobs filling in for other market vendors, so that was cool.

Weirdest job, hmm, I made porcelain earrings, like in a tiny factory, for a while. We had a tv with no picture tube and we listened to the Guiding Light while we cut out porcelain shapes with a deodorant lid and then dropped glaze on them so they’d look marbleized. For a while I was a life model for drawing classes, which I always found very meditative: you have to really focus to not move at all for 45 minutes. And once I had a temp job where I had to go to Pimlico racetrack and wear a shiny green jacket and hand out copies of the Racing Form; that was kind of fun. I actually did a lot of those sort of weird mall demo temp job things. “Hey! Would you like to try a FREE sample? You could win a car!”

In June I am having a show! It opens June 28 at the Malvern on Patton Avenue in West Asheville (someday oh some day I would like to show my art somewhere that doesn’t have draft beer but that day is not yet) and you all should come by. I am working flat out preparing for it and freaking out a bit because I am also trying to get my house into shape to sell. After 18 years I am leaving Asheville and here is the first official public announcement: well, hello PNW, specifically Astoria, Oregon - I like you, I hope I can encourage you to like me back and give me a place to live and a job even, preferably one where I don’t have to shout “Hey!” But I will if I have to. I have, after all, done it before.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:20 PM on June 2 [19 favorites]


My third job (after delivering flyers and then a brief but horrific stint at McDonald’s in my tiny rural town that paid for the car that ensured I’d never have to do anything in my shit redneck hometown again) was an internship offered to promising young scientists at my hoity-toity prep school at motherfucking *NASA-Ames Research Center.* I had an official NASA ID badge at 16 and was working in a lab studying the effect of weightlessness on bone mineral density. They had a lab rat model they worked on and had had a couple of experiments that went up on the Space Shuttle. My lab also collaborated with a Russian lab (this in the days of the Soviet Union) which seemed completely exotic and top secret. My classmates were working in other crazy cool labs and we’d all visit each other and I got to stand in the giant wind tunnel at Ames and fly around Mars with some early version of VR goggles which at the time (right as Neuromancer came out) was just mind blowing. Plus my badge got me access to all of Moffet Field and I got to go walk around in the the old dirigible hangers and watch the P-3s take off. That gig lasted about two years while I was in high school. Plus, the lab tech I reported to was a totally cool guy in his early 20s who took me to play paint ball and bought me beer all the time so it totally rocked. When the lab had experiments up in orbit, everyone would get to travel to mission control in Houston and I was hoping I’d get to do that but sadly we never had anything scheduled while I was working there. I think my first email was myname@nasa.gov.

My first job after college I got after sending out 200 resumes (I was a bio major at Berkeley) to every biotech company in the Bay Area. I just wanted some cash to pay for my not-insane-at- the-time rent in San Francisco*. I ended up getting a super cool job in a lab at UCSF developing the first test for HIV and Hepatitis C (recently renamed from “Non A Non B Hepatitis Virus”) direct quantitative viral DNA and RNA. This is now a commonly used test commercially and my name is on some of the early papers of this test and I actually contributed some ideas that made this workable. Of course as a university employee, I saw none of the money generated from this but it was a fun job. Now, 25 years later, I’m completely out of research and am entirely clinical and Hepatitis C now kills more people than HIV and I’ve become a local expert on Hep C treatments and have cured > 100 patients and I routinely use the test that I helped develop.

Throughout both of these amazing jobs, I managed to get paid as a “professional” musician at local clubs but I don’t consider music as anything resembling a “job” despite my band mates wanting to make that their full time gig.

*I am still on the lease of this flat we rented in 1993 and my best buddy ever who played drums in those shitty bands with me still enjoys a cool $1600/month rent controlled 4 bedroom flat right in the heart of the Castro.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:10 PM on June 2 [18 favorites]


First job: delivering newspapers.
First proper job: cook at A&W

I've had some weird jobs, though. I did "confined space safety watch" at a pulp mill. Once a year the mill would shut down and a bunch of specialist contractors would come in and do cleaning/maintenance for two weeks. If anybody had to go into a confined space to work, my job, for 12 hours a day, was to sit outside the confined space and maintain contact w/ the crew inside, be ready w/ emergency rescue gear, etc. It was *really* boring.

I was a "mobile DJ", which is just a guy w/ a couple of CD players who does grade 8 dances and stuff. I was a book scanner for the Internet Archive (there's a statue of me up at head office). I worked construction for a few years on high voltage power lines in far north, monitoring the prime contractor to make sure they were complying w/ the contract. That was remote enough that we flew into the job site every morning in a helicopter. I cleaned up sewage flooded basements for a while. Got a rash from that job. I taught basic HTML/CSS to high school teachers very briefly. I've written a couple of screenplays and some marketing copy. I've been a freelance book critic for years. I was on the board of a youth centre for a while. I pumped gas and worked the counter at a gas station/convenience store/bait shop, where I had to count out minnows and leeches by hand (it's just faster that way). I've been a TA and RA for a bunch of different university departments/programs, none of which were what I've actually got my degree in. I've stocked shelves at a grocery store and at a WalMart. I had one job at a WalMart where I tore down shelves and set them up somewhere else in the store so that the renovation crews could work on a different part of the store ("store set up crew"). I'm sure there's a bunch of stuff I'm missing. I hosted a world music show on a radio station for a little under a year. I worked on RIM's assembly line making Blackberries the year before the iPhone was released. Very briefly worked a hotdog stand and did an almost-as-brief stint as a street canvasser for charity.

Cook at A&W, book critic, and my current job (production editor) are the only ones I've ever actually enjoyed, though.
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:58 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


One of my first freelance gigs as a musician went like this: I got an out-of-the-blue phone call to my apartment in Amsterdam (3rd floor; you know how those stairs are--we had two harpsichords up there...), some dude asking whether we owned a harpsichord.
-- yes, why?
Well, there was a shooting for a whisky commercial (Teacher's) in the small hall of the Concertgebouw and they were doing Vivaldi The Seasons and someone had said that the visuals needed something authentic and they needed a harpsichord. And a player. They'd pay me 400 guilders.
So I say 'I haven't practiced that part.'
-- Oh no problem we're only faking the playing, it's the visuals we want. We're afterwards using an existing recording for the music.
'But we're on the third floor'
-- Yeah, we're coming with a van and a few strong dudes, no problem there either. We're on our way, get your concert clothes ready.
So I was fetched con harpsichord, barely had the time to leave a note to my girlfriend that I'm temporarily gone with the instrument but no worries, and then I sat an entire day on the small stage in Amsterdam, fake-playing together with a (professional) chamber orchestra also fake-playing Vivaldi under the baton of a totally not-baton-trained Actor-With-Hair who (in the commercial) would have conducted his Vivaldi to great applause, only to go home and pour himself a Whisky.
Got paid in big wads out of a back pocket. There was an intermission where we could sneak out to the great hall listening to Charles Dutoit (untainted back then) rehearse with the Royal Concertgebouw orchestra, so I got at least _something_ out of it.
The Vivaldi was never included in the final commercial.
posted by Namlit at 11:43 PM on June 2 [16 favorites]


I think my first job would have been tutoring, but I can't remember if I got paid or not. I attempted to sell knives for Cutco the summer after high school; I definitely was not motivated enough to get paid for that job. (They are good knives, though! And they are legitimately paying for wealthy teenagers' parents' social networks!)

This week I will get to kayak around Lake Union to clean up trash. I hope I don't 1. fall in 2. get too sunburnt. My partner hopes that I will see a manatee. Towards the end of the month I'll go to my cousin's wedding dinner! (they got married, went on their honeymoon, and are then having their reception a few months later.) I am excited to be back East.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:54 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


if we don't count my paper route from 8 to ~11 years of age - which was really easy because we lived in a high-rise apartment building and I just walked along the corridors from the top of the building to the bottom and sort of just slid the papers down my leg and *whoosh* they fell perfectly through the gap at the door sill - then I would say my first job was during the summer between freshman and sophomore year of university. I saw a job announcement for an intern position at the quality control lab of a small petroleum refinery (I studied chemical engineering). I got the job and was shown to the lab. It was not in good shape. I mean, the work was done well and the results did match up but the place was definitely not ship-shape. So I took it upon myself to do the regular work I had to do (label samples, calibrate intruments, etc) and also to scrub that place down. That job lasted about 3 weeks because at that point I was invited to interview for a better internship position at a multinational pharmaceutical and I got it! So that summer was my first experience with successfully interviewing for a job, and my first experience with quitting a job. I learned a lot.

Also relevant life experience learned.

June is already AWESOME!! On the 1st I got notice that my dual citizenship was approved! So happy :) The only other plan I have is to do my best to secure a reservation at a restaurant during an upcoming trip to the US. Also, survive the heatwave we are currently experiencing. June is quite quiet for me usually.
posted by alchemist at 12:14 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


First was being a ski tech for a sports store. Reebok and Gerry were big brands; and Rossi skis and bindings. Late junior high or early high school; don't remember.
Place tried to expand to ski trips a couple of seasons later; bad year for the weather; Rockies had no snow; the shop lost all the deposit money and had to go under.
I still have a verrrry faint roundish scar from the time a drop of 'P-tec'; the plastic stick wax we would use to fill gouges in the bottoms of the skis hit my hand when I foolishly had my left hand under the ski while dripping wax with my right. Duh-owch!

Weirdest - um; here I am. I made a picnic table today out of 2x4s and 2x6s. Eh; whatever. Seventy some days to go here; then home ; and then 18 months more of the mostly part time long strange trip through our services until I complete my 20. Unbelievable.
posted by Afghan Stan at 12:42 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


First job (not counting setting up orchestra chairs/music stands, for which my dad paid me, and which I still do weekly for free) was as a counselor-in-training at a music camp; the kids were fine, the director was the second most evil person I've met so far. An educational experience.
Weirdest job...well...not so weird as far as the general job description goes, but all with their fair share of weird duties. Standing there with a clipboard and a little clicker to count people into a reception at the UN was an occasional part of the secretarial job I held in my twenties, much enhanced because the reception featured a sushi chef making sushi in real time and when it was over he would serve us the (delicious fresh) leftovers.
This June...too much work; a week home in the city with my mom, taking my husband with for the first time; probably my first round of IVF once we're back. So nothing actually bad, but a lot of stress that is making me just want real bad a quiet life freelancing at home.

Best to bookmammal and janepanic and other people in need of good vibes right now.

smoke, if you are going to Vanuatu I recommend looking at this site, which I came across by chance a while ago; it's a great read.

Take good care everybody.
posted by huimangm at 1:32 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


What a great prompt!

I am so sorry, bookmammal and janepanic. Both situations sound stressful and hard. I hope something better comes your ways soon.

First proper job was in a terrible tourist shop in downtown Anchorage that generally attracted, because of its attachment to a (somewhat) 3-D movie about Alaska, only the worst kinds of tourists: those who would rather watch a movie about Alaska inside on a beautiful summer day than actually go *be* in Alaska. I am a really, really good tee-shirt folder to this day.

I was 14 and I hated our customers. My best friend and I got this job at the same time; they had a whole influx of smart, weird kids who told their friends about it for a couple years. The job paid a little bit over minimum wage and I had it for two years, until I became both a store manager and the one with the license who could take everyone out tourist baiting* after we locked up on a bad day.

Weirdest/best job was a driving a bus in Glacier Bay National Park outside of Gustavus, Alaska. Dorm housing and (awful- any time a staff cook was okay at their job they'd move them out to cook in the lodge for real customers) food was provided, as was staff kayak gear. It paid terribly but it was a fun group of people and I'm still friends with some of them 20 years later. You provided your own transportation to Juneau and they flew you in a tiny plane from there for a week washing buses and delivering luggage while you studied for your CDL. Then they flew you back to Juneau where you had one shot at the written test on their dime/flight...because the park was entirely off the road system there was no driving test and your license just was marked valid for off-system use only.

*Tourist baiting involved driving the highway out along Turnagain Arm (one of the great scenic byways in the country) and pulling over and pointing. We had an elaborate system of points involving how many vehicles pulled over behind you and what you could get them to a) believe you saw up on the bluffs b) believe *they* saw up on the bluff c) convince others they saw on the bluff. Fake bears garnered a lot more points than fake Dall sheep, because you can convince basically anyone that an odd patch of snow way up there on the rocks is a sheep. Even nice, smart 16 year-olds are assholes sometimes.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:34 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


My first job was in high school, a freshly minted 16 year old, working in a call center as an order-taking agent for a company that owned a bunch of different catalogs. I got hired initially as seasonal work for the horticulture catalogues in the spring, laid off (and v. v. sad about it) when that rush ended, then came back in the fall for fall horticulture/xmas rushes, and then got made permanent. As an agent, we all knew what the best gig was -- when you got to take calls for Hearthsong, the awesome kid's stuff catalogue, Popcorn Factory, and Mauna Loa (let's face it, the upsells for Mauna Loa basically sold themselves. You call the macadamia nut people to order some macadamias, they tell you you can have even more macadamias at a discount, you say yes! God, that macadamia caramel corn was good). I did well at Spring Hill and Michigan Bulb's though, learned a lot about the plants and could talk to the callers knowledgeably, so I did good business on the upsells there because I could get the caller's preferences and zone and make appropriate recommendations for them. It may have also been my weirdest job, because I basically made a study of marketing-as-manipulation and how you can do a whole lot of manipulation through word selection and modulation of tone of voice, which (to be honest and also completely Machiavellian) is knowledge that has served me well in life. I even trained other agents on how to sell. But I was good at it, because hardly any of my upsells ever got canceled after the fact -- we were paid a small base with commission for the upsells, and they would yank back commissions for cancelled upsell items, so I was proud of my record. There must be thousands of acres of naturalizing daffodils across the yards of America due to my efforts. Daffodils are great though, so I don't even feel guilty for it.

As for June... well, I just moved recently, so I'm still in the there's-always-something-to-do phase. I tried to put up lights and it turns out the ceilings in the new place are not drywall like I anticipated, but concrete. I now have no idea how the hell I'm going to put up any of my lights that require drilling, because I don't think me + stepladder + my enormous hammer drill that requires two hands to operate + held vertically is a story that ends well. It's me vs my fears, at a stalemate. So I will continue to punt lighting, by going to the garden center today and buying a bunch of plants for my balcony planters. Perhaps I will fall back on some of my old F&G hort knowledge!
posted by sldownard at 1:57 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


My first job was the normal paper-round thing. Not super interesting. My weirdest job, on the other hand: I worked part time as a penguin at the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, NZ. I got to dress up in this giant penguin suit and wander around the facility waving at tourists. The suit was shaped like a giant egg, so if kids mobbed me and pushed me over (which happened often) I rolled around on the floor and couldn't stand up again without help. And it was super hot in the suit. But it was the most fun job I ever had. And it was amazing for a student, because it paid very well, and also mandated half hour breaks out of the suit every hour (which were still paid), so in a full Saturday of work, I could get 2-3 hours of studying done during my breaks.

Also, sometimes they would pimp me out to children's birthday parties, and I didn't have a car, and was required to arrive already in the suit, so I'd take the bus all dressed up. That was always fun. (And they never charged me a fare, which was good, because I had no pockets.)
posted by lollusc at 2:20 AM on June 3 [23 favorites]


Oh, and in response to the other part of the question, my plans for June are awesome. I'm going to San Francisco to visit some colleagues at Stanford, and I have an invite from some Google engineers to visit Google HQ. And then I'm going to a conference in Mexico. I'm super excited about all of this.
posted by lollusc at 2:21 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


first real job was 1988, at a company called Colorization, colorizing black and white movies and tv shows. It was straightforward work that needed just enough mental input to not be completely monotonous as long as the batteries held out on your walkman. That company went out of business twice, firing everyone, then hiring them back once they found new investors. Eventually it became apparent that no-one wanted to watch McHale's Navy even in pastel colours, and it closed down for good.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:28 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


Bus boy and dishwasher because it was the closest non-farm employer to our home. But I wasn't ready for that shit. I hated the hard cheese crust baked on to the soup bowls. I phoned in an "I quit" after two long, miserable, lonely shifts and took a job in a mall book store.

"Here comes Mrs. so-and-so..." for her monthly stack of the various romance series books. There were several dependable romance ladies like that -- they would phone to ask if the such-and-such books had come in -- so we pulled their books from the shipments as we unpacked them and set them aside behind the counter for their convenience. I was a darling and a dear and a sweetie.

Three nice old gay men (I used to know their names but it's been... almost four decades now? I think Bob was one of them) would come in together and find reason to send me walking up and down the aisles. They would hand me a gay romance novel and ask my opinion, but I had no idea and they knew I had no idea. I blushed easily and they liked that.

"There's the whacker" when we would spot the kid who always had one hand holding open a racy paperback and the other hand working vigorously in his pocket. I think it was his lunch break.

"Here comes Mr such-and-such" when a certain crazy old conspiracy theory man came in to browse the Crazy Old Men section and tell us how things really were while I watched the hair sprouting from his nose.

The sci-fi kids and the fantasy kids trying not to get caught looking at each other. So many adventures within the Walls of Glandulahr or whatever stage they were in that week.

I got a good discount on books and as many free stripped books as I cared to take home, but I got tired of it and went down the mall to sell records and cassettes.

My weirdest job was being "Dead Man" just a couple of weekends for a stock car team. I was a gormless grunt on the crew before and after the races, but during the races I had to hold a certain spring-loaded fuel valve to allow fuel to flow during refueling. If I let go, the fuel would stop flowing. So my most important duty was to die (or run for my life) if fire broke out in the pit. I would release my grip on the valve and stop the dangerous fuel from flowing.
posted by pracowity at 4:08 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


This is a good example of one of those questions that sounds fun and innocuous and is secretly shot through with a vein of anxiety and anger for me because of how creatively cruel and bizarre my family of origin were about all kinds of innocuous stuff, including teenage employment.

I wanted a job from the age of 14-15 onwards and didn't get one until I was nearly 18 because my family vetoed every single option I came up with (like, wouldn't even let me apply, came up with a ton of strange and alarmist scare stories about how the job would be totally inappropriate and horrible no matter what the job was). They were just so weird about it for no good reason that it kind of poisoned the whole experience.

It was also the mid-00s and around about the time economically when the "teenage weekend job" seemed to be disappearing where I lived - increasing zero hours contracts and adult people who needed those jobs to keep their families together, very little that was just weekend hours or could be flexible around school/studying. Also I lived right on the edge of the city in a suburb served by one bus per hour so there were not a lot of opportunities that I could reliably get to.

Finally, the summer before I went to university I was allowed to get a job working for my dad's company. The age-old "but a job will distract you from your studies" excuse (I was the kind of asshole kid who got amazing grades without trying at all while I was at school, I don't think I knew what active studying was meant to be like until towards the end of university) could no longer fly given that I had no educational commitments until university started.

The job was making sandwiches in a large naval dockyard that refitted nuclear submarines, easily my weirdest job as well as my first. The initial two weeks were vacation cover for someone who worked in the office, which was great - I've always been way better at office work than at manual labour. I had to order catering supplies, check in on inventory with the snack kiosks all around the site and use a strange and arcane old machine to calculate cash/coin takings from said kiosks.

Because it was a nuclear licensed site, everyone had to have basic training on what to do if something went wrong, and they tested the sirens every Monday morning. Every employee had a card attached to their security pass showing them which shelter to go to if bad shit went down. My dad was a senior manager and he had a blue card, meaning he was meant to report to the shelter for key employees who would be required to help resolve the crisis. I, a lowly sandwich-maker, had a yellow card, meaning I was meant to report to the regular shelter for unimportant employees. That felt kind of weird.

Once the other office person came back from vacation, I was relegated to "sandwich corner", a separate kitchen downstairs from the main office restaurant kitchen. It was all hairnets and steel-capped boots, which I found deeply specifically personally humiliating as an intensely self-conscious seventeen-year-old.

I was vegetarian even then, but the job required a lot of handling of meat and fish and I didn't feel like I could request not to handle that stuff because that was a significant part of the job; I've never had a tremendous sense of personal agency but it was much lower at that time in my life and there were so many things that I just put up with or suffered in shame and silence because I didn't think bringing it up would change anything.

The sandwiches had to be prepared in a chilled environment - a big walk-in cold room where they'd be made, packaged and stored, ready to be sent out to the restaurants and kiosks in time for lunch. The job started at 7am, which was super early for my sleep cycle at that point in my life and I was often hung over from staying out late at bars (summer birthday + finally legal + long-standing mental health problems that got ignored by all of the adults in my life = alcohol), so I'd be standing in this walk-in cold room feeling like hell handling all kinds of foods that I found intensely gross and just dissociating like crazy.

One of the plus sides of the job was that it finished at 3pm - once the sandwiches were made and the kitchen was cleaned down, there wasn't a lot else to do apart from sticking labels onto plastic bags for tomorrow's sandwiches - the last half hour of pretty much every shift consisted of seeing how much time I could stretch out doing this while wishing desperately I could sit down somewhere after being on my feet since 7am.

When there was truly nothing left to do, the kitchen manager would have to get creative with assigning cleaning tasks. I didn't like cleaning out the big industrial freezers out back, because the shitty little cloths they'd give you to clean them with inevitably just froze onto the freezers within a few seconds and you couldn't meaningfully do a lot of cleaning. And I particularly didn't like deep cleaning the big industrial dishwasher, because the sequence of events for shutting it down was complicated and the heating coils could burn out (costing thousands of pounds to replace) if you didn't do it in the right order.

Well, guess what, one time I didn't do it in the right order and the heating coils started steaming and I began to totally panic that I was about to do thousands of pounds worth of damage and started frantically spraying the heating elements with the hose you were meant to use to spray-clean out the inside of the dishwasher to try and cool them down. Fortunately this seemed to work - they didn't overheat and I didn't do thousands of pounds worth of damage.

This is also a good example why it sucks to grow up in a house where everyone escalated to peak irrational anxiety at the slightest hint of anything going wrong and started casting around for who to blame (inevitably me) - it teaches terrible problem-solving skills, where lying and making it look like nothing bad has happened become more important than actually solving the problem.

I have so many memories of being deeply painfully anxious that I'd broken or ruined things and couldn't tell anyone or get help from anyone because I had no trust that people would react helpfully if I did tell them. I did exactly the same with the dishwasher at age 17 as I did when I borrowed a bike briefly from another girl who lived on my street at age 6 and thought I'd seriously damaged it.

I'd had it drilled into me that you shouldn't change gears on a bike while the bike wasn't moving because you'd permanently and irreparably ruin the gears and it would cost a load of money to fix and all the adults would be extremely mad at you (me). So, guess what, I rode this girl's bike and happened to change gear by accident while the bike wasn't moving. I immediately jumped off it, gave it back to her and spent the next two weeks worrying that her parents were going to come over to my parents and demand money to fix the bike that I had ruined. There were no safe adults to turn to who might have been able to soothe this fear. Obviously the bike was not ruined - and neither was the dishwasher - but I felt super crappy about both of these things (and many other things!) for a lot longer than I needed to.

The other lousy thing about that job was that my dad was the big department boss and he had that whole charming & competent outside of the house/violent, cruel and abusive inside the house dynamic going on so everyone at work loved him and thought he was great. When he died, they all came to his memorial to talk about how great he was, and there was just no room in that conversation for my completely different experience of interacting with him. My best friend from high school came to the memorial too, and on the way out she whispered, "I don't know who the person those people were all just talking about was, but I didn't recognise the guy I knew as your dad in there", and that was a super helpful bit of tiny validation.

*

Anyway, June. I am Going Through Some Stuff in mental health/trauma therapy terms right now I guess, which is why the tone of the above is what it is, and it's colouring pretty much every aspect of my life at the moment.

I'm trying to focus on what is actually going well (keeping a record of my feelings, deep breathing, getting exercise, therapy & helpful reading, taking care of myself as best I can - I made some great eggs earlier, that was a real win) but I find I end up slipping into despair multiple times each day. I'm struggling not to overwork/stay over-busy and take on too much stuff as a distraction.

It just feels so monumentally unfair that a) my parents were able to make new humans but not capable of raising them right; b) that in the process of doing so they neglected so many needs and did so many weird, cruel things that I feel completely twisted up and wrong on the inside, including completely unequipped to deal with the problems this history is causing me as an adult ; c) that they were high-functioning and middle-class enough that none of the other adults in my life had any idea what things were like at home and no one ever intervened; d) that this legacy is now completely my problem to fix, at my own expense, even though I don't really like myself or being alive enough to be easily motivated to do the work. It feels like an impossible trap, another cruelty piled onto a life that has already been so warped by cruelty.

There are strawberries growing in my yard and small signs that this can get at least a bit better and might be okay one day, but my overwhelming feeling right now is one of exhaustion at the thought of yet another multi-year struggle doing something immensely hard that I'm ill-equipped on the inside to do, to rectify something that was fundamentally done to me in the first place when I was powerless and small. I keep vacillating between "keep your gross shame on the inside where it belongs, no one wants to hear about it" and "maybe talking about some of this will make it feel marginally better" and I guess the second option is winning today so that's probably another small good sign.
posted by terretu at 4:25 AM on June 3 [12 favorites]


I'm writing this when I should be working on my current grown up job- I'm flipping back and forth between this thread and my Year 7 creative writing (that I have been putting off marking for far too long because I thought it would be pretty bad. (It's refreshingly not all terrible.))

My first paid job was at a vegetarian restaurant and café as a kitchen hand- early mornings cleaning the kitchen, chopping veggies, making absolutely massive pots of mashed spuds. This place was interesting because it's student run and has been since the seventies, so add an extra dose of 18 year olds who know everything, are super idealist, and student politics (including backstabbing) to the mix.

My most interesting job has been working as a mobile polling officer for the Electoral Commission. This meant visiting various nursing homes and hospitals (including the psychiatric ward) and letting people vote early, if they weren't able to make it to the polling stations on election day. It was really fun and meant I could tour the different nursing homes around my area. I really enjoyed helping people out.
posted by freethefeet at 4:45 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


secretly shot through with a vein of anxiety and anger for me

Totally hear you. My parents were oddly controlling about work stuff in a slightly different direction. My mom was a money hoarder and we sort of needed our own money for stuff like if we wanted butter instead of margarine. And my dad would also not let me get a job in college (at first) but also I didn't have money for... stuff. Working was fraught.

That said, having a job meant getting out of the house! My first job was being a waitress/cook at the local small town airport. I could walk there which meant I could work before I could drive, so I was like 14 1/2 maybe. I was paid $2.10 an hour plus tips so some days I'd go home after work having earned $6.30 with maybe an extra quarter in my pocket. I would close up the place, turn off all the lights and walk a half mile home down the runway. It's one of those "would never happen nowadays" jobs.

Weirdest job: I did the first website for the Bungee Sexperience. I was also a live-in caretaker for an Odd Fellows Hall in Seattle (the little one not the big one). I have an old list of every job I've had up on my website.

June is just making the summer transition from VT to MA. I did my last "big" talk on Friday and my last smaller one is on Wednesday and then the speaking season is done. And then figuring out what to do with my too=many-houses problem which involves some tough talks with my sister. And watching minor league baseball!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:48 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]


First job was a sandwich maker/meat slicer at a local sandwich franchise. Weirdest job would be zookeeper (volunteer, but we did everything the paid zookeepers did).

I'm going fishing on Monday. But that's about all I have planned for June.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:01 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


*hugs* if you want them, terretu. It's always so terribly unfair that we have to do the work to heal the trauma that was done to us by others; I find that, at the end (or at whatever stage I'm at, cuz I'm not at the end) it does start to feel a bit empowering, too. But overall it's still sucky.
posted by lazuli at 7:12 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


My very first job was as a busboy at a local Mexican restaurant. I did not last long there; apparently I don't have the finesse to clear a whole table in one go. They ghost-fired me by not giving me any shifts after I returned from a vacation.

I don't think I had any truly "weird" jobs, but the one I have the most stories from is working at the local airport. I was nominally a line person (mostly refueling plus other related services) but I also worked the front desk. The front desk handled all of the airplane payments (fuel, hangar rent), flight school scheduling, retail shop, plus the motel and the pool. On any given day I could be refueling planes, checking people into their rooms, issuing pool passes, selling merch, and just about anything else that needed a body in front of it.

Another fun high school job I had was as a "playtimer" at a kennel. The kennel offered playtime services for dogs and cats being boarded there, and it was my job to take the animals out and... play with them. It was honestly pretty awesome; my only responsibilities were to get through the list of dogs and cats scheduled for playtime and clean the play room at the end of the day. I played with a lot of dogs. There were some dogs who were just too scared of being in the kennel and would just sit in my lap during playtime. The only really disappointing part of that job was that it never felt like the dogs got enough time out of their cages.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:35 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


I've had a lot of horrible jobs -- waitress in a small-town strip joint, door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesperson, among others -- and a fair few crappy ones, but none of them was especially weird. My first job, when i was thirteen, was the same first job as about half the girls i went to school with: I bussed tables at the local Knights of Columbus Hall for weddings and banquets for, iirc, about $20 a night.

@backseatpilot -- Playtimer sounds like a really awesome job! I wish i'd known there was such a thing!

Last night I took part in a book launch for (this book, if you're curious). It ended up being a huge (like twenty-one readers, and standing-room only) event. I'd submitted a poem without ever thinking that i would be in a position to read in front of anyone (much less lots of anyones, including people who actually, like, know me), and that was terrifying and amazing all at once. I've never said f*ck in front of that many people before.
posted by platitudipus at 8:21 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


Writer is by far the best and least predictable job I've ever had.
posted by platitudipus at 8:22 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


@terretu, i'm so sorry you're having a rough time of it. This part resonates with some of the stuff that i've been trying to figure out for years: " b) that in the process of doing so they neglected so many needs and did so many weird, cruel things that I feel completely twisted up and wrong on the inside, including completely unequipped to deal with the problems this history is causing me as an adult ; c) that they were high-functioning and middle-class enough that none of the other adults in my life had any idea what things were like at home and no one ever intervened; d) that this legacy is now completely my problem to fix[.]" I wish i knew how to fix it. But in this moment, it helps me to know i'm not alone, especially wrt the class stuff that was so embedded in the invisibility of the abuse i experienced. Thanks for being so open about it, and internet-stranger hugs, if they're what you'd want.

Strawberries sound amazing! Ours were flowering, and then we had a week of cold weather and rain, so who knows how that'll turn out.
posted by platitudipus at 8:32 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


My first job was at an old school Dairy Queen. I ended up getting fired because when my boss called my house during the party for my Catholic Confirmation and ordered me to come in to cover for a no-show, I said no, so he fired me over the phone. He was really mean and the job sucked, but it did have the benefit of large canisters of nitrous oxide in the back for making whipped cream. Had a variety of religious experiences in that back room before I settled on the envelopes full of cash that came with the family celebration over my youthful flirtation with Catholicism.

In other news, I lost a dear friend this morning. She was so young, too, only 23. She was introduced to me by a mutual friend who is an excellent cook. I guess you could say we first bonded over food and spent many subsequent meals together. I really loved her, and so did my family. I can’t believe she’s gone. I’m going to miss her.

And I know exactly why she died, my neglect. It’s totally my fault. We used to spend every weekend together, but recently those weekends have grown further and further apart. Part of it is because I just don’t have that kind of time anymore. And I suppose part of it is because there are so many great local bakeries.

I’m talking, of course, about my dear sourdough starter. Some call them sponges but that seems so judgemental. I’ve been making bread with the same starter for well over two decades and I was horrified when I discovered this morning that it had turned bad. Not, hanging with the wrong crowd, doing drugs kind of bad, but foul. The color was wrong, there was weird shit floating on the top, and the smell was disgusting. And maybe she was hanging with the wrong crowd. I noted tones of blue cheese in the smell, and she was right next to a partially wrapped chunk of blue. Did it attack her in the night and destroy her once peaceful and productive microbial community? You can never trust a French cheese with anything you love.

Fortunately, all is not lost. I’ve given a lot of other bakers starters from my starter. I’ll be able to get one of her sisters from one of them, I’m sure. My wife is going to visit my mother-in-law next week so this drought in culture is temporary. But it won’t be the same. There was a lot of me in her, and we both changed a lot over the years. I know it sounds stupid but I feel like there’s a part of me that’s missing. I’m going to miss her.

My second job led me to the career I'm in today.
posted by Stanczyk at 8:37 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


First paying gig of any sort was babysitter. First W-2 job was a prep-cook/delivery driver for a local mom-and-pop pizza shop/liquor store (yes, I could and did deliver liquor). I mostly worked the day shift there, so there'd be a flurry of orders around lunch time, but otherwise we mostly spent the day doing prep work for the busier night shift. I'd start at 10:30am and work through the dinner rush and be the first to go home around 6:30 or so. We made just about everything from scratch, so what we made during the day depended on what we were getting low on. We almost always made dough, but otherwise we'd make meat sauce, pizza sauce, grind bulk sausage for the pizza, slice vegetables, make and cook meatballs, parboil and portion out pasta servings, and other stuff like that. I also made trips to our supplier to pick up our bulk food supplies (kind of like if you were to drive to a Sysco location and pick stuff up, but we didn't use Sysco); the office staff knew me pretty well there by the end of the summer. I got my first real compliment of my working career there - the daytime cook who was in charge of scheduling preferred to put me on overtime rather than work with anybody else.

Weirdest job may have been another pizza place I worked at in college where I made deliveries on a bike, or it may have been a job in an architecture office that was so awful the awfulness was kind of weird - the boss there was horribly paranoid and convinced we (the staff) were all out to screw him over. We had to fill out our time sheets, but we also had to clock in and out with a device that read our fingerprints - they'd compare the clock with what your time sheet said to make sure you weren't claiming time that you weren't actually in the office for. If we wanted any office supply that we didn't already have (i.e. I need a new pen), we had to have the receptionist unlock a drawer for us to get one. Eventually that extended to rolls of paper for the plotter, and they compared how many plots were listed in the log vs how much paper had actually been used. We had ceiling cameras all over the office, but the boss also had remote viewing for everybody's screen, so he could watch what you were working on. He'd frequently call people up and tell them to draw something differently while they were working on it because he was watching their screen. I think he even had it linked so he could do that from home. Total nightmare and I would have left way earlier if it wasn't the depths of the recession. Once Obamacare happened and I didn't have to worry about health insurance, I did leave.
posted by LionIndex at 8:43 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


My first job was babysitting this little boy who had the most awful gas. I watched him every day after school until his mom got home, and of course I was always hungry after school and too dumb and disorganized to make my own provision for anything to eat, so would break down and try to eat their food in ways I thought they wouldn't notice, mostly taking things from the back of the package and leaving the front full. All around the pantry and fridge and freezer were packages of cookies, frozen chicken patties, etc. with only the rearmost items missing. Ha.

My weirdest job was as a teenager working on a dude ranch in Montana and again, being asked to babysit a little boy, and just as the dad was leaving he said "Sometimes when he poops, his butt turns inside out, so if that happens, just push it back in." Then he waved and walked out the door. Kid's name was Colin, no lie.
posted by HotToddy at 9:28 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]


someday oh some day I would like to show my art somewhere that doesn’t have draft beer but that day is not yet

For an artist, this goal makes a lot of sense, but as someone who likes to look at art, I appreciate it when good art can be combined with good beer.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:36 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


To the main topic -- I've had plenty of under-paid and/or terrible jobs where you were supposed to do dangerous or somewhat illegal things without complaining, but the only jobs that I still hold grudges about were a couple of professors in grad school who treated me and their other TA/RA workers like shit. In reality it was a very minor and brief moment of my life, but the sheer magnitude of the disrespect and unpleasantness involved left some sharp memories.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:41 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Wow. This thread is a great read. I love the jobs that just wouldn't exist today, even though you, like me, are not THAT old, gah!

My weirdest but probably most awesome job was selling fruit at a farmers market. Quite hard in terms of physical labor but also great because almost everyone wanted to be there and was enjoying themselves. And for the few who weren't, my boss gave me wide latitude to toy with them or tell them to take a hike. Plus, I got a lot of creative mileage out of it as a writer. (And I'm still in touch with my boss! Just saw him last summer.)

Weirdest not awesome job was working nights proofreading the Sears ad. This was .. maybe 2006? Certainly at a time when, to me, Sears and the Sears ad seemed like they should not really be a thing anymore.

Everyone in that office hated one another. They had all been there long enough to be practically crusted to their desks and to nurse elaborate grudges against one another.

Most of them cornered me individually and made their case for why I "shouldn't be so-and-so's friend." And I was just ... I mean. For me, it was a 10-week temp job! The stakes were not that high in my mind. But they saw me as fresh meat and an opportunity to help exact whatever revenge fantasy they had for whatever grave wrong had been committed against them before I was born.
posted by veggieboy at 10:09 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


First job: Dad's t-shirt shop, 10-12 years old earning money to buy an RC car. I started with catching T-shirts coming out of the curing oven. It's insanely boring and hot, and is essentially human robot work because it's still almost impossible to design a robot that can pick up a t-shirt and lay it smoothly in a stack without any wrinkles.

Moved on to traditional graphic design, including typesetting, and then later my brother and I used our computer skills to take us into desktop publishing and design.

I also learned a lot about what hard work is over the years, and worked there off and on until my early 20s. We did a lot of dumb things like, oh, take on truckloads of work without a loading dock or forklift. Manually loading a few hundred 60 pound boxes of T-shirts into a 45' semi trailer is intense, especially when you're doing it a couple of times a day.

One of the really intense things about trying to run what became a very large T-shirt/fabric printer is that the general job of "screen printer" involves doing almost everything that can be done in manufacturing. You end up having to fabricate a lot of stuff. Special tables, machines, tools.

I think it was Imprint Magazine, but they had a monthly column from a printer and his byline pic was him standing in front of a sensitive printing machine holding up a hammer, and this is a secret screen printer's in-joke.

The most useful tool in a screen printing shop isn't even a pen, or art, or even a squeegee. It's a hammer. In early t-shirt shops, you used a hammer to stretch screens by hammering cord and the screen cloth into a groove in the frame. You used a hammer to build handling tables or screen printing jigs for custom printing spot locations. (Say, a pocket, or collar.)

You even often used a hammer to beat on a finicky machine or other hardware for percussive maintenance.

But perhaps most importantly you used a hammer to nudge screens into register for multi-color prints. Because screen printing screens/frames aren't like lithograph/flexograph plates at all because of how flexible and variable the image placement is in the screen, t's almost impossible to register color plates by hand.

So the SOP is you loosen the holding clamps in the screen printing machine just enough to give it some stiction/friction, then you tap on the screen frame to nudge it in the right direction. You can get sub millimeter hairline movements this way.

So, if you're ever in any fabric/t-shirt screen printing shop, look for or ask about the hammer. There should be a smooth-faced standard claw hammer, medium weight-ish, at every screen printing machine. Unless they're a super fancy modern shop that uses metal screen frames with register tabs and a registered screen exposure system. Even then, there's probably still a hammer.

Weirdest job is undoubtably my current one and I've only been there a month.

My official and unofficial job descriptions often read like paradoxes or zen koans. Example: I'm basically an employee/HR manager responsible for getting as much staffing as I can in the door except I can't pay anyone. Hoo, boy.

I'm actually pretty comfortable with this ambiguity. Most of my job basically boils down to "Do the right things, and do them often." and "Don't be a jerk." and just showing people how to hustle in a coffee shop kind of place, while helping create and maintain a safe and positive space.

I get to use my enthusiasm to boost moral and energy levels, network ALL THE TIME with potential volunteers in my daily life and do a lot of boostering and stuff. It's really cool to me that just the fact that I'm there and in the building and said yes to trying on the gig is bringing people back and out of the woodwork, and we need it because we're about to turn a new page and do some revitalization.


Runners up to this are the dozens of random "self employed business dudes" I've somehow worked for either as a graphic design or IT freelancer, many of which I had no idea what they actually did, and not in the nefarious way but ok, you are a total doofus and just spending money pretending to be a businessman kind of way.

These gigs often ended up with me doing some weird, ridiculous task at rather high hourly rates. Stuff like, oh, sorting their investment grade coin collection or old vinyl records for eBay. Or going to lunch and driving around and doing a lot of nothing.

In hindsight I realize a lot of this was them picking my brain about stuff they just weren't really capable of understanding, and some "Ok, this kid is crazy smart and knows computers, how can I make a bazillion dollars off of this like those guys in Forbes?" which is it's own kind of depressing, and it would last until I either got bored of pottering about getting paid to do nothing and be their "tech consultant" or whatever, or they started to realize that I wasn't interested in making a bazillion dollars - or when I started incidentally revealing uncomfortable questions about what the hell they were actually even doing.

Because as near as I can figure most of these "random business dudes" were living off of inheritances or a random investment windfall or both and they seemed to be going through some kind of zombie-like shuffle through life and going through the motions of running a business because... that's what people did? They wanted even more money?

But it seems like they'd be better off just taking that money and kicking it on a nice beach somewhere or taking up a hobby or something, because while I appreciated the paychecks, it was often incredibly pointless.

And if these "random business dudes" don't want a hobby or, say, a personality and they're just burning money roleplaying busy executive, it's deeply weird to me that they put them through all of the stress of running weird business related errands - and often being huge assholes in these pointless pursuits about how busy and important they are - and they aren't choosing to sit on a beach drinking fruity cocktails or whatever.
posted by loquacious at 10:48 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


My first 40hr a week job was in the summer after my first year at uni. I went back to the industrial town i come from and picked from the limited options at the job centre a packing job. It was shift work sticking 16 rolls of black bin bags in a box, some unremembered number of boxes on a pallet then binding the whole thing in polythene. It was pretty dull. it paid £2ph which was pretty shit, even in 1990. I just looked it up and it would be £5.10 today, so well below UK minimum wage. Then place was full of blokes who were bringing up families on that and the managers were all pricks, though i guess now they were probably on a fairly shit deal too. After a few weeks we hit a heat wave which made things more unpleasant. I think when they also had a lull in business and because they were sourcing staff through the job centre they needed to lose a few people 'voluntarily '. So because i was more temporary than the poor fuckers who had little in the way of options I got moved to the furnace room. My new job was to strip the remains of plastic sheets off heavy duty cardboard rolls and put it on the conveyer into the furnace. This basically meant 8 hours of sweating like a pig and losing all the skin off my palm through running a Stanley knife over plastic. I lasted three days.

Now I'm an academic! Currently in the garden drinking rum & ginger! June is going to be busy but off to a wedding in the deepest wilds of Wales on the 23rd and then 2 weeks of stuffing myself with prosecco, seafood, pasta and culture in northern Italy.
posted by biffa at 11:43 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


My first job was at KFC when I was 15. My friend and I got hired at the same time, but she never got given a shift and they never made me a name badge, so I had her badge the entire time. I left and got a job at the McDonald's next door becuse they kept giving me the late shift despite me explicitly saying this was the one shift I couldn't do. It finished around 10:30-11pm on a school night and my parents weren't too thrilled about having to come pick me up at that time.
I don't think I've had any particularly weird jobs, the dullest one was sorting mail. It was pretty sporadic shifts, as the company only needed you when they were contracted to look after the mail for certain things. The two I remember was the Telstra share float and NRMA member elections. Basically, you pulled the form out of the envelope, checked to see if it had been filled in correctly (block letters, blue or black pen, everything in the correct boxes) and put it into piles or correct or not correct, then bundled them into groups of, I think, 20. Each shift was 4 hours and you had to do 4 boxes. If you did extra boxes, they paid an additional $5/box. I usually did my boxes in 2-3 hours then went home.
As for June, I've been in Canada for 3 months now, so my health card arrived on the 1st, which I'm pretty excited about. I also have the CFA level 2 exam in 3 weeks and should hear back about a job this week. If the job doesn't pan out, I'll have to step up the job hunt. May need to start broadening my search because there doesn't seem to be too much out there for credit risk managers at the moment.
posted by Kris10_b at 11:59 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


My first job was as a mother's helper, at the age of nine or ten. It led to a number of babysitting gigs, working childcare at my religious services place, and a job at a daycare, at least one of which was actually a W-2 job. My favorite babysitting job was for one of the teachers at my high school, who loved to go to parties on the weekend, coming home at 1 or 2 am. I was chronically ill and needed tons of sleep, so I explained that while I was fine staying that late, I really needed to sleep once the kids were asleep. He was happy to set up a cot in the kids' room and I would just go to sleep as soon as they were put to bed. I got woken up and driven home four or five hours later, paid for every hour I was there (generally more sleeping hours than awake ones). As a teenager, this was crazy and awesome. I was like, they are literally paying me to sleep. I have yet to top that as a job.

My weirdest job was when I was in college. I did a few work study jobs in parts on the library, so I was one of the students they grabbed for an extra job. During an earthquake, most of the books on the second floor of the library fell onto the floor. They got FEMA money to put it all to rights. So my job was picking up books, out of heaps three feet deep, sorting them out, and reshelving them. The bottom two shelves were usually okay, which left, I think, five shelves on each side of the aisle. With all the other student workers, it only took about two weeks. I think the town library must not have had those same funds, or maybe workers, because I remember it was still closed when I graduated and left, a few weeks after that. They had a sign saying they were closed and not to return books until they opened again. On my last day in town, I pounded on their door until someone came out and I strong-armed them into taking my book returns. I had to explain that I was moving to somewhere that didn't have a branch (with five counties, you really could move a lot and still be part of the library) before they would accept the library books back.
posted by Margalo Epps at 12:21 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


Like many teens of my era, my first job was baby-sitting. This was back when we were paid 50 cents an hour (insert eye-roll here) and I got tons of experience at home with my little brother and baby sister (yes I could change diapers and bottle feed!). However, my first W-2 job, and also possibly my weirdest job, was working in a venetian blind factory at age 14 for two weeks! I mostly remember that the shop was dim, and you could see dust motes floating in the air from the window light that did filter down through the haze. We only made full-sized metal blinds then, so this predated mini-blinds, plastic, wood and bamboo blinds as well. If you’re interested, here’s an historical overview of them, which discloses, among other interesting factoids, that they came from Persia, not Venice!
posted by Lynsey at 1:07 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


First job was babysitting, starting about age 12, I charged $2/hour. My most steady customers were also my weirdest, a couple who had two adorable boys about 6 yrs and 18 months. The kids were normal enough but very well-behaved (odd to me, used to my family) and the oldest had a weird aversion to music but otherwise thought I was The Shit. Plenty of snacks, they had cable, it was fun.

But the couple, who made their money via Amway, always paid me with a check (which forced me to get my first checking account), and never rounded up; if I was due 18.00 they never just gave me a 20.

First w2 job was making 3.35 an hour as a bagger at a grocery store, and to make that pitiful wage I had to go buy a white shirt and black pants to wear under my stupid apron. We were forbidden to take tips, though I soon found out no one actually refused them. I lasted two weeks.

Weirdest job? Temping was always interesting, short-term glimpses into places you'd never know about otherwise. I often went to random hotels to "proctor" at continuing ed lectures for dentists or lawyers or some other groups, where I was supposed to sign people in, give them nametags, then faff around for 3 hours until they were done and I had to help clean up.
posted by emjaybee at 1:21 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, plans for June. Well on the 8th I'm having my pin out- or the head of the pin, whatever is grab-able. But my surgeon is adamant that I'll be walking the same day, so that's nice. I am as I type taking a break from ripping out my gone to seed spinach bed, moving said bed, re-laying weed barrier and re-filling said bed, then I shall plant some ground cover type beans and keep that going for some green compost so that come cooler weather in fall I shall have a spinach bed once more! This bed was experimental to find the best type of spinach to grow from seed- I planted four types. The two losers were Lavewa and Matador- fine spinach but early to bolt and the leaves were underwhelming. The runner-up was classic bloomsdale, but the crinkle leaves made checking for bugs and spraying potassium salts to control said bugs very difficult, also the leaves had a tendency to grow kind of into the ground, made for more washing later on.

The winner of spinach thunderdome was monstrueux de viroflay an excellent variety that grows tall and large (and upon ripping it out I discovered very deep roots) The leaves are perfect for those of us who prefer whole leaves to baby- though its good for that too. The way it grows makes for easy spotting of pests, and it was the last to bolt showing its heat tolerance. So once the cool weather comes again, hopefully by then my mini greenhouse will be up, I shall plow under my cover crop, put some more soil on top- and have dozens of monstrueux de viroflay sets to put in the ground for spinach all winter and spring.

I have mint thunderdome all set up- but there is no clear winner yet, I think they are planning a cooperative. That's in a large terracotta pot because only a silly person puts mint in the ground or a raised bed because it will escape and take over your garden. Friends, I was that silly person once, learn from me, only put mints in pots. There is still some rogue apple mint that puts up large shoots under our lemon tree every time it rains. It's impressive- but deeply frightening.

Other than that I have my two rectangle pots with two peppers each, two red bell and two hatch- those need to be fertilized today. I have a baby zucchini plant, some carrots in the ground and just oceans of pole beans which are beginning to put out flowers. And herbs of course. My cilantro is going to seed so maybe I'll be able to harvest some coriander? but I think in the future any cilantro I get is going in a pot. I'd rather have that space for another variety of thyme. I had to pull my purple basil during our cold snap- it just couldn't hack it. But the African Blue Basil is well on its way to becoming a perennial, fingers crossed. The chives are looking nice, and my new sage plant looks well also.

Back to work I suppose. Hopefully I'll have enough in the garden to keep me busy this June. Fingers crossed!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 2:16 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


What mints are in the thunderdome?
posted by elsietheeel at 2:23 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


My first job was as an usher(-ette) at the long-gone Aladdin movie theater in Denver. This was at a time when the “nice” movie theaters printed tickets for every seat for every show (once a day all week, matinees on Wed and Sunday), and you could call and reserve seats for a specific show. So we often knew approximately what kind of crowd we’d have.
I worked the entire run of Patton (I think it ran about a year and a half), and the last six months of Funny Girl. I had to learn the alphabet backwards, because the front row os row A. I would hang just inside the door (for latecomers) until the opening monologue was over, then go and start prepping for the 11-minute Intermission. Once on a very snowy weeknight, we had a surprise sellout, and it was just two of us working the concessions stand. We prepped like crazy, stacking iced cups and half-full tubs of popcorn. The customers quickly saw that there were just two of us and two registers, so they formed two lines and we got through all 915 patrons in 11 minutes! Our boss was super-proud of us, and gave us both .25/hr raises!
My weirdest job was delivering sandwiches on my 10-speed bicycle from a shop on Colfax on Capitol Hill to office buildings in downtown Denver. This was in the late 70’s, so bike messengers weren’t even a thing yet. It was a cool job that lasted a summer and part of the fall. Business fell off, and they kept the guy that was faster.
posted by dbmcd at 2:28 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, June - all of it, all of July and a bit of August is remodel-the-kitchen time. We’ll complete the demo next weekend, then the cascade of jobs begins. I can’t wait until mid-August and our new kitchen!
posted by dbmcd at 2:30 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


One of the cities nearby had recently introduced a separate organic waste collection stream, but they found it was contaminated with things that didn't belong (plastics, mostly). I had a job as a "field tech", which had two parts. The tamer part was walking ahead of the collection trucks and tagging bins which contained contaminants so they would get skipped for collection that week. I remember opening bins and finding camping chairs (uh....), Pokeballs (.... what), and once, an entire bin full of rotting fish. At least that last one was actually organic waste.

The weirder part of the job was actually removing the plastics from the waste stream before processing. After the trucks returned with their loads, we had to break open any plastic bags, pull out anything that didn't belong, and collect and weigh it. The smell definitely got to me after a while, but you wouldn't believe some of the things we found: clothing, laptops, passports (hopefully expired?). Eventually we amassed enough of a collection to build and clothe a little scarecrow.

I knew a later job was really bad when I started looking back at those days of picking at people's organic waste with fondness.
posted by invokeuse at 3:36 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


What I love about my partner is that when I call him up and say "after this trip let's quit riding in motor vehicles entirely", he says "I'll ride a recumbent tandem bicycle from Portland down to California to come pick you up."

So he's en route and that's my plan for June. I feel so courted.
posted by aniola at 3:43 PM on June 3 [8 favorites]


My first job was really very dull data entry stuff. My most, uh, interesting job was this one, where shortly after asking the question, thank god, I got laid off because the guy turned out to literally not have enough money to make payroll, and it turned out that on at least a few counts he admitted to saying deliberately crazy things (it got worse than described in that question, even, including his proposing that he thought I should be armed if I were going to be in the office alone and picking big shouty fights over ridiculous things like my suggesting we should have backups of our Quickbooks files) in the hopes that it would make me quit before he had to lay me off so that I wouldn't file for unemployment. He seems, somehow, ridiculously, to still be in business, but he lost his appeal and therefore his concealed carry permit.

Losing the job that way at least gave me a much, much easier thing to say moving forward, and as far as I know nobody after that ever contacted him for a reference, and his failed appeal is now the third Google result for his name so at least I can sleep at night knowing clients have some way to know a little about what they're getting into. But I have never, ever, ever been so happy to lose a job with no notice. After that, I wrapped up law school even though I knew I wasn't going to practice, then took a few more much-more-boring tax jobs to tide me over until I could do my code bootcamp, so all's well that ends well.

But seriously, some people should not be allowed anywhere near guns.
posted by Sequence at 4:26 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


My first job was umpiring third grade baseball in junior high. (Though I was too young for a work permit, so maybe I didn't get paid? I would have sworn money changed hands.) I was brought in late and got all the left over games. The next year, I was scheduled only for days I said I couldn't work. I've always thought my gender was a factor (though why they hired me the first year...).

My weirdest job wasn't really weird, just not something people would think is a thing--I took dictation for math grad students with disabilities that made typing difficult. Dragon Naturally Speaking and LaTeX aren't really a great combination. So I've added myself to the acknowledgements of someone's dissertation, which is kind of funny. (It also turns out a quick and dirty way of making math and chemistry textbooks accessible by audio is to LaTeX them, and I knew some people who did that. Proper audio versions are supposed to be available, but they wouldn't arrive until like 2/3 of the way through the semester. The publisher would furnish the university with a supposedly screenreadable version, but, of course, the equations didn't work.)
posted by hoyland at 4:30 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Washing dishes in a wretched hive of scum and villainy. A certain amount of rat disposal may also have been involved.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:43 PM on June 3 [6 favorites]


First real, paid-money job? Being a lab minion at age 14. Paid interestingly, as it turns out (c.2001), because the lab I was in was utterly awash in .com money, and the answer to paying the "just finished his freshman year in high school" lab minion was buy him a brand-spanking-new Mac.

I've worked in labs (that one for all four summers in high school; then a different lab in college; then a two-year stint as a full-time research assistant, then grad school, now a postdoc a stone's throw and a few buildings over from that very first lab) ever since.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 4:50 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


My first real job was shelving books in the moldy Strand basement at the height of summer, with nothing but a giant fierce fan to keep me cool. My first "job" when I was quite young (10 or 12 maybe?) was filing records and typing address labels on a big old-fashioned bangy typewriter for my dad. I finished pretty fast and then read books all afternoon. My dad gave gave me $20 plus all the snacks I could eat. I felt so rich and my fingers turned so orange from all the Cheetos. It's all been downhill from there, really.
posted by ferret branca at 6:41 PM on June 3 [8 favorites]


Weirdest: I'd arrived in Weimar, Germany that same evening, and was a party (where they were playing contemporary Russian pop music), chatting up some local punk-looking women*, when this guy asks me if I want to work the next day, and I'm like yeah, sure, and he's like cool, you have to show a bunch of people around the town, and I'm like, dude, a) I just got here, I don't know the town and b) I speak no german, and he's like no worries, just show up.

So I do, and it's a bunch of architecture students who'd come for an international arch. student congress thing, mostly eastern europeans, and I took them to see how an AUTHENTIC BAUHAUS ARCHITECTURE STUDENT (e.g.: a friend of mine who I talked into this) lived, and we hung out at her house for while and then I got directions to the local cemetery where Schiller and Goethe are buried and they, the students, asked me all sorts of questions which I was completely incapable of answering, as I haven't even read anything by either of them, much less know squat about them, their lives or anything, really, but the cemetery was nice and I got paid anyway.

* who, long story, later turn out to be skinheads, not punks, and we ended up at a skinhead concert, me being semi-jewish & latino with long dark hair, at the time, not an ideal situation.
posted by signal at 6:56 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


First job, which was relatively weird too: walking through several hundred acres of soybeans to weed them before harvest. Each person on the detail would have several rows of beans either side of them that they were responsible for, and you would use a hoe to take out the weed near the base of the stalk. I found a golf club in the last field we worked (next to a nine hole course); I guess the player got so frustrated that they left their equipment behind.

First legal job was part-time wrangling shopping trolleys and playing cashier at a supermarket. The males were required to do both roles while the females were cashier-only... and therefore paid fractionally more. The highlight of my time there was helping a customer change a flat tyre (basically doing the job for him, which was amusing for me because I didn't have a license or a clue), which he wrote in about and I received some corporate recognition for.

June: finalizing arrangements for my family to join me in Australia where I'm working until next year :) I've flown between Canada and Australia... five times in less than 12 months, will be doing it again in July to bring everyone else here. It's a long way to go, but totally worth it.
posted by clicking the 'Post Comment' button at 7:08 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


My first job was through a program my high school had where as a senior you went off for chunks of the last semester and got work experience. The company I worked at tested products other companies made-- often tiny companies can't afford to do their own product testing. So they'd whip up a few prototypes, send them over, and we'd test them thoroughly and write a professional report.

For some reason, while I was there a lot of the clients were small candle companies.

This is why I can say for certain that people who found small candle companies do not have any damn common sense. Our number one issue with many of the products was 'please look up the dictionary definition of flammable and then re-evaluate your materials choices'.

I mean, at one point somebody sent us a pine-scented candle (okay) which had attractive patterns of real pine needles and twigs pressed into the outside (uh...) and For Authenticity had pine resin mixed into the wax (UHHHH.....). We didn't even bother taking those into the testing room. Just went out to the parking lot, strung a long fuse onto the wick of the candle, stood at a safe distance, and videotaped the resulting fireball. You could have used those things as grenades.

The candles that actually made it into the testing room got studied much more thoroughly. How long does it burn? How bright does it burn? How evenly? Will it drown in its own wax, and if so, when? How hot does the air get above it-- like, is the ceiling going to scorch? So every morning, the candles would get set up and lit, and then once every half hour someone would go through and write down all the relevant information.

The problem was, because candle companies have no damn common sense, on one occasion we were sent a batch of candles which had about four times the concentration of scent usually used in a scented candle. There was no way of detecting this before the candles were lit. The testing room was a giant, open warehouse with very little ventilation, so it could get pretty bad in there, but it was not generally intolerable. This particular company was also a bit larger than our usual clients, and had a number of small formula changes and size/shape considerations they wanted to test variations on; the consistent thing was that they were all about the same degree of highly scented.

Which means that when I walked into the warehouse to do the half-hour datalogging...

I do not know how to describe the sensation of inhaling in a room filled with fifteen thousand burning overly-scented boysenberry candles. I threw up. I did not pass out, but it was a close thing. They all had to be blown out before testing finished, because nobody could be in the room for more than thirty seconds once the scent diffusion had really gotten going. We sent the company a Strongly Worded Letter. And I have refused to interact with a boysenberry from that day to this.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 8:19 PM on June 3 [19 favorites]


Plans for June: rehearsals for As You Like It were supposed to start today, but I ended up in the ER (I'm fine now), and I still have two pieces of music to arrange for that show, one for Taming of the Shrew, and one costume piece to build because nothing in company stock fits me. But I have three lines of dialogue and a name this year! (Nobody actually speaks the name...)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:20 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


What mints are in the thunderdome?

Orange mint, chocolate mint, red stemmed peppermint, strawberry mint and Roman mint!

THEY ALL SMELL AMAZING.

So far the winner is all of them! It's only an 18 inch pot but they are all thriving! So yay mint!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:25 PM on June 3 [7 favorites]


I JUST CAME OUT TO MY MOM AND IT WENT OK OMG GONNA START WEEPING AGAIN

where's that damn cat when I need a hug
posted by loquacious at 8:34 PM on June 3 [49 favorites]


First job:

Working on an army base in central Massachusetts for an office that was replacing their G12 vehicles - K cars - with brand new Impalas. My job was to drive the K cars somewhere else and drive the Impalas back to the office.

I could never remember which exit I needed - this was years before google - and got lost every. Single. Fucking. Time.

I guess you could call this weirdest... My first job out of college was as part of a team wiring my (giant, public) college campus with CAT5. 1993, yo. I had a tool bag and a giant ring of keys and could park the state van anywhere I wanted. I punched down patch panels, pulled cable, climbed ladders and got a "Confined Space Entry" permit which meant that I could enter manholes. I loved that job.

Heh, I said "enter manholes."

Then one day my team went to a trade show in a nearby city. On the way back my boss told me that he wanted to go to a strip club. They left me in the parking lot for an hour while they ate lunch.

There's a lot more to that story, but basically after that incident I was told that I should stay in the office and "hold down the fort." I had a brand new Power Mac on my desk and taught myself desktop publishing and other computery stuff. And that's when I pivoted from my desire to become an electrician like my co-workers to becoming a web dev/computer person which I've been for nigh on 25 years.
posted by bendy at 8:53 PM on June 3 [6 favorites]


My first job couldn't have been more cliched: McDonald's, summer before my senior year.

The town I grew up in only had a Dairy Queen, so employment options were, shall we say, limited. (Employment options doubled when the Sonic opened, but that didn't happen until the week before I graduated.)

The boy I was dating worked at the McDonald's in the next town. He was the sweetest guy I'd ever known, and also the one I trusted most, because he never tried to do anything more than hold my hand. When he told me he could get me a job at McDonald's, I said 'sure.' I needed a summer job, and I thought it would be fun to work with him.

That was before it became real that he actually could get me a job at McDonald's, and before it became clear that he worked the breakfast shift and I would be too. The shift started at 4:30 in the morning. It was a 20 minute drive. It was a shitty way to spend the summer. (Not to mention that minimum wage at the time was something like $3.15 an hour, and I only worked four-hour shifts, on the weekends.)

I admit, with all due shame, that I'd always been that person who thought she was the smartest one in the room. That confidence flew out the window when I worked at McDonald's. Because, I tell you what, I was bad at that job. So, so bad. I was worse at that job than anything I had ever done before (or since), and I was bad at it because it was so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn't assimilate all of the things I needed to learn.

Taking orders: I was bad at it. Lowering baskets into the deep fryer: I was bad at it. Using the cash register: Bad. Making change: BAD. Trying to take drive-thru orders: SO bad. Getting the right order to the right customer in the drive thru: Badder. Situating an appealing twirl of soft-serve ice cream on a wafer cone: Fucking forget about it. (But seriously, do you know how hard that is?)

I was so, so shitty at that job that they finally just handed me a broom and a dust pan. Sweeping up french fries and ketchup packets was the one thing I couldn't fuck up.

The only thing that kept me from running that place into the ground with my badness was the fact that I probably only worked there for 80 hours the whole summer. My take-home pay was something like $113. It was awful, and I was awful, and it was humbling.

That was my first job. My weirdest job was a part-time gig I picked up my freshman year in college, making $5 an hour working for an old guy named Leon whose business interests are still unclear to me. He had an office in a pre-fab building way up in North Austin. He had a room full of boxes of unopened mail that previous "assistants" hadn't been able to make their way through. He showed me those boxes my first day there, asked me to start opening and sorting mail. I did, although I wasn't given any more guidance than that and had to make up my own categories for sorting.

For my first hour there, he stuck around to make sure I was up to the task of slitting the envelopes open. (I was.) He monologued at me the whole time. Told me he was a retired physics professor (doubtful) and that he was a good friend of and had spent whole summers with Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood. (Also doubtful, but oddly specific, and I was music nerd who was a sucker for the West Side Story soundtrack, so I let that one slide.)

After he left to go do other, mysterious things, his wife burst into the room with her hands on her hips. "You won't make it here," she spat at me. "They never do. None of the girls ever do."

She left in a huff and a cloud of perfume.

A few days into the job, Leon asked me if I wanted to try something different. I shrugged and said okay. He took me next-door, to another pre-fab building: Ace Fish and Tackle. (When I later answered the phone "Ace Fishing Tackle," he corrected me: Fish. And. Tackle. I told him all I saw was fishing tackle, no fish. He gave me the stink-eye and told me the story about Leonard Bernstein again.)

Anyway, my new gig, because apparently I wasn't all that good at opening and sorting mail, was counting red wiggler worms into styrofoam bait cups. Twenty-five worms per cup. If you messed up and cut a worm in two wriggling ends, that still only counted as one worm. That's how they come out ahead, you see.

One of Leon's adult sons worked there and was weirdly malevolent toward me right off the bat for reasons I could never figure out. The whole atmosphere was bizarre. The angry wife. The petulant 30-year-old son. All of the unopened mail at a seeming non-business that didn't seem like it would be receiving much mail to begin with. The paucity of customers. The distance between the bait shop -- er, sorry, Fish and Tackle shop -- and the nearest body of water.

But jeez, I was making $5 an hour. That was a really good wage at the time. I stuck it out. For a few weeks. It was my second job, and my most successful one to date.

--

I've been dreading going into work tomorrow because the next week and a half is going to be hellish for reasons I won't get into. But damn, y'all. I'm a professional. I'm a subject matter expert in certain arcane policy things. In November, I will have been at this job for 10 years. No fewer than three deans of a professional school at an R1 university regularly ask me for my advice and wisdom.

Everyone has to start somewhere. I started by fucking up breakfast orders and miscounting bait worms into styrofoam cups for a potbellied man in too-small coveralls.

We all start somewhere.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:21 PM on June 3 [10 favorites]


I was a terrible babysitter once (wound the kid up instead of getting him to bed), then a group of high school friends and I spent a ton of time making a web design company in the mid 1990s (when hand-coding with HTML 1.0 was sufficient) and no time learning about running a company (or building a budget), so we made a name and a logo, but then agreed to get paid a flat fee of $300 to make a website for a local woven rug shop. The best part is that we got to hang out with a lively guy in his shop on the main downtown street, and he *gasp* bought a scanner! We were big time. (We were going to embed a midi of Nine Inch Nails "Perfect Drug" and call it "Perfect Rug," but it's probably good that we didn't.)

We made the website, but a few months after we "finished" our job, I went back to the website and found that it was wholly rebuilt. Still, it was a fun summer. More than 20 years later, my parents still get some mail for one of my random high school era junk mail "handle," listed under the company "Websmithy."
posted by filthy light thief at 9:21 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


mudpuppie: We all start somewhere.

I also make a terrible wedding DJ, or party DJ, for that matter. Back in college, I was a decent radio DJ, but when I agreed to DJ a wedding, I showed up late and I didn't have all the music they requested. Then a fellow DJ hired me to play music for a party for architecture students, but I brought my weird mix of music, because that's what I had. Do you want something everyone knows? Um, lemme see what I have -- nope. You want swing music? Oh sorry, none of that. How about Orbital's version of the Dr. Who theme? (Thanks, fellow music/nerd who appreciated the track!)

Now I just subject my kids to my music, and it's gone pretty well. Today the older one asked for Former Ghosts, suggesting my pick for my turn in the weekend soundtracking at home, and both of them declared that DJ Spooky vs. The Freight Elevator Quartet is better than the Moana soundtrack. Parenting win!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:39 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


Oddest job I ever had was a part-time temporary night gig working for a cable television provider in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I had previously worked for the company as an intern and then part-time, before a mass layoff too long and boring to recount here, but I had moved on to freelancing and they called because they were short-handed.

I never went into the main office; I never spoke to anyone in person. They called, told me what they were paying and the days/hours, and gave me the address. It was a squat little brick building, like a one-room bunker, in the middle of nowhere at the end of an overgrown dirt road; the air was thick with fog and crickets when I arrived the first evening, and I felt like I was walking into some kind of horror movie.

Punched the keypad, let myself in, one chair, a bunch of monitors and a bunch of 3/4" videocassette decks. My job, for several nights, was to simply sit there for around three hours, and play some videocassettes at specific times to override the programming pulled from the satellites. It was basically a remote head-end for the cable system in this suburb, and they were running some kind of promotion they needed to advertise but had no automated systems to run the ads with.

So: drive out in the middle of the night, let myself into a brick bunker aglow with CRT monitors and awash with the sounds of many stations' worth of programming overlapping each other, sit there until a specific time, hit play and punch the override on all the decks, punch 'em back 30 seconds later, then do it again one, two hours later, then go home, all the while feeling like I was going to be murdered.

Looking back, I don't actually remember getting paid...
posted by davejay at 11:15 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


Second oddest: temp job, was hired for one day to go through hundreds of filing boxes to determine the alphabetical start-finish of each, write that information on the top, and stack them four-high along a wall.

Day one: I asked if they wanted me to write it on the side as well, and they said absolutely not, it had to be on the top. Did it, went home.

Day two: The temp company sends me back, they need me to return to the company and do it again, but this time writing it on the side because they couldn't read the information on the top of the boxes in the bottom three rows.
posted by davejay at 11:17 PM on June 3 [6 favorites]


First job - algebra tutor senior-sophmore, she ended up with a masters in math. Totally beyond me. That's a big AWESOME and a long story.

Best job description.... Writer of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) concerning the manufacturing of animal foodstuffs written for 9th grade level. I wrote a meter/yard of how to work machines to make all sorts of animal chow from bear-kibble to kitty-chow.
(that ended with them not being up to my level of genius because they wouldn't buy me a UNIX machine to run a httpd on to develop CBT&T solutions. So their loss. They could have been one of the first major big-name-you-would-know businesses that lost out on being on the forefront of tech for lack of catering to my skateboard riding demands. :P )

Most incongruent (darn spellcheck) job(s) are many. Bagel baker. Florist. Fru-fru health food extracts and such.

Final job was 17-ish years of Systems Programmer/Network Administrator/Engineer/geek-in-the-dark-room.

Job title becomes weird for me and tends towards Lazy, Impatient, and Hubric. (some sort of generic process optimization thing... is that a job?)

Otherwise, job gets too strange and loaded for me+metafilter.

On other fronts... I avoided righteous vandalism which turned into whimsical muckrackery (lol, seriously I was >< close to drawing a picture in crayon and gel-pen and home-made glitter to avoid being "the obvious culprit" in my righteous endeavor. It would have been grand). Now it's back to waiting for landlord to fix the thing that's been broke since for-fucking-ever... longer story redacted.

My second first page post seems to be going better than the first... which naturally leads to....

Third verse, same as the first
Just last night, I was reminded of
Just how bad it had gotten
And just how sick I had become

But it could change with this relationship
De-derange, we've all been through some shit
And if we're thing, I think this thing's begun

posted by zengargoyle at 12:35 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


The Underpants Monster: As You Like It is one of my favorites! What role? Even the minor ones are fun in it. Also, ER? Yowch. Hope you're feeling better.
posted by PearlRose at 5:33 AM on June 4


My first hourly job (i.e. not including a flyer delivery route) was at a golf course when I was 14 or 15. I started out on the driving range and club shed (before moving out to the actual course a couple of years later); on my first day I was hastily shown how to drive the electric golf cart that towed a trailer which picked up the golf balls. So out I went, and when the bins were full of golf balls I was so nervous about hitting the customer on my right as I pulled into the spot where the cart was parked that I didn't keep a lookout to my left. The trailer, which was significantly wider than the cart, ran into the concrete base of an electrical box with sufficient force that the trailer hitch was ripped off the back of the cart. My co-workers and I had to go out at the end of the night and collect all of the hundreds if not thousands of balls by hand with these things, which was a massive pain in the ass and I'm sure didn't endear me to them (although I don't remember anyone giving me a hard time about it). So that was my introduction to the Wide World Of Work.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:55 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


The Underpants Monster: As You Like It is one of my favorites! What role? Even the minor ones are fun in it. Also, ER? Yowch. Hope you're feeling better.

Amiens! "It will make you melancholy, my lord!"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:11 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


My kid jobs were babysitting and newspaper delivery. I'm 7 years older than my brother, so for most of my teen years my Mom and I had an agreement that I'd not get a summer job so I could be home with him, and she'd give me money if/when I needed it. It worked out very well. My first W2 job was working at catalog/credit/layaway/gift wrap counter at JCPenney when I was 19. It was so hectic and chaotic and I loved every minute of it. Decades later, my giftwrapping skills are still on point.

June is one of my favorite months. I'm a summer person. Once I got a driver's license, one of the things I would do with my brother was go to weekday afternoon ballgames. The old Phillies stadium (Veterans Stadium) was a huge concrete bowl with many seats, so broke college students could take their younger brothers to ballgames for very cheap. And we both grew up and got jobs that weren't conducive to leaving at lunch to catch a game. Toss in some kids, aging parents, and houses that always need fixing and next thing I know it's been 20 years since we went to a game.

Last month I called him and suggested we find a game that works for the 2 of us. No spouses, no kids, just us like it used to be. Time is fleeting -- I'm 45 and he's 38 -- and I told him if we don't do these things now, we're going to blink again and be in our 70s. That game happens next week. Somehow I still ended up paying for his ticket. I don't care. :)
posted by kimberussell at 6:25 AM on June 4 [9 favorites]


I also plan to spend some time in June watching Chloe the Cat in her "weansie," which is apparently a onesie a mama cat wears during weaning. The megalitter is in full-blown ATTACK KITTEN mode.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:07 AM on June 4


First job: babysitting. First "real" job (one that required tax forms and paychecks): waitress at a Chinese restaurant. First career job out of college: Family Planning Specialist at Planned Parenthood.

I don't think I've ever had a weird job. Waitress, nanny, customer service, etc. Nothing weird, sadly.

June: daughter graduates from high school this Friday, big party on Saturday, dad has cancer surgery on the 14th.
posted by cooker girl at 7:09 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


First jobs: babysitting, pet sitting, garden sitting, dog walking.

One of my stranger jobs: I took a job in an analytical chem lab one summer in either late high school or early college and was working with a French woman who was very enthusiastic about her dislike of the US. I hung out in a clean room and prepared newborn's blood, urine and fecal samples for analysis by a big fancy machine (BFM). The fecal samples had to be reduced to ash so I cooked and burnt shit; and yes, it smelled horrid. The A/C for the clean room failed so I stripped down to undies and bra under the clean suit. We didn't have a deionizer in the lab or a lab cart so I carried a giant carboy of water from two floors and a hallway away. I had great upper body strength that summer. The French woman went hiking and screwed up her knee a couple of weeks after I started working so I did all the prep for the BFM and all she did was sit in front of the BFM all day. I also cleaned all the glassware for the lab in a mix of sulfuric and nitric acid (and then rinsed with distilled and then deionized water). And all this for the princely sum of $4.25/hour which is what minimum wage was in those days.

I didn't tell the French woman I could speak French until my last week. That's what you get for slagging on my hometown area.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:53 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]


My first job was working under the table at a pet store. I didn't know it was under the table and I didn't know I probably needed a work permit because I was about 14 so underage. I was essentially the only one in the store most days, and the owner would show up and hand me a $20 for the day's work. I had to use the carbon copy machine for credit cards, and we had to call in checks to a special number to get an approval code. I got puppy snuggles for my efforts. It was only later that I learned about puppy mills.

Our local Shakespeare in the park group (Flatwater Shakespeare) is doing The Tempest this month so I'm definitely going to go see it. It's also my birthday month but I'm not sure I'll be doing anything special. The Mefi Card Club cards I've gotten have been great though!
posted by PussKillian at 8:39 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


My first non-babysitting job was also my weirdest job. I worked as a research assistant in a hamster lab, where, in addition to feeding the hamsters, I decapitated them and sliced their brains up on the world's most hi-tech deli slicer and used a tiny paintbrush to mount tissue-thin brain slices onto microscope slides. Because it was a circadian rhythm lab, there was a 3-week period where I had to bike over to the lab at 3:30 in the morning to take food away from the hamsters. My social anxiety was so bad at the time that I never asked the PI to sign my time sheets, so I never actually got paid for any of that work.

My current job is becoming unbearably bad (on Friday I worked a 16-hour shift on the ambulance with no lunch break and a partner who watched YouTube videos of cops shooting people and dogs at full volume WHILE DRIVING THE DAMN AMBULANCE) so I am going back to the freelance editing life and trying to figure out what, if anything, I am going to do with my EMT certification.

In June, I am training for a 15K run, helping my roller derby league put on a very large tournament, skating in up to 4 games during the tournament weekend, possibly hosting my dad and his girlfriend for a visit if they ever decide to actually make a plan and buy plane tickets, and continuing to fix up the house. My partner and I did some amateur plumbing on Saturday night, and today I am painting the wainscoting in the kitchen. I have never been a handy person, but I'm learning how to be, which is kind of cool.
posted by coppermoss at 8:40 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


My first jobs were all at my shul. I'm pretty sure I went from receptionist, to weekend librarian to Sunday school teacher to Dalet teacher all in middle and high school. After that, my first outside job was at a bookstore. It was like putting a bee in a honey store. I spent almost every dime I made on books. Honestly, I don't think I ever had a really weird job. I was the Director of an AIDS hotline in the 90s so I heard a shit-ton of weird stuff, and I trained volunteers to deal with that weird stuff without freaking out, but it wasn't a particularly weird job.

June plans: After 2 years of searching for a new suitable gym for my needs, I have found it! I am very excited as it not only meets almost all of my needs, but it is also woman-owned and they are really clear about rules around grunting and stuff. I love it. My plan is to work out there at least 3 days a week. Also, I have started working on a little side hustle. I really want to love it, but I'm also a little afraid of it, so my goal is to get past the fear and go for it.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:05 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]


I had a couple of what I'll call "proto-jobs" in Junior High - no more than an hour a week each. I lived on a really self-contained street with a lot of kids growing up there, so our local paperboy farmed out a lot of the weekly ad circulars to one or another of us kids who wanted to make extra pocket money; we just had to walk around to each of the 30 different housees and shove a flyer in their newspaper boxes. The street was safe enough that we were all outside running around all the time anyway, so this was an easy ask (and I remember once coming upon one neighbor's lawn where a whole ton of violets had just popped up, so I dropped the bag of flyers right there and started picking flowers for a big nosegay for myself; after five minutes I just picked the bag up and kept going). I also had a gig for a couple years as the "janitor staff" of our very small town library; I vacuumed and dusted and occasionally cleaned the windows, and it took an hour once a week.

My first proper job, cashier at the local Hallmarks', was a bit of a bumpy transition. I ended up with a somewhat unpleasant manager and was a little overwhelmed by the responsibilities that first day, and my head was swimming as I drove home.

Although, this is fun - coincidentally, as i was coming home, Mom was helping my brother with his English homework, reviewing some vocabulary words; one of the words on the list was "proletariat". And they were just going over that word as I pulled in the driveway. My mother apparently laughingly told my brother that I was a proletariat, kinda. I knew none of this - all I knew is that when I walked in the door, head swimming from that first day at work, the first thing I saw was my mother standing in the kitchen, arms spread wide in welcome, and crowing "The proletariat has returned!"

--

I'm trying to make more fun plans for June. Right now, I'm a little grumpy about being dragged off to a company-wide team meeting in Rochester this week; it's slightly ridiculous that an administrative assistant is even going to this meeting, but whatever. And there isn't even much chance for down time, and I have no access to a car; so I'm basically going to be stuck in a corporate boardroom for 48 hours listening to people talk about concrete and then going back to a nondescript hotel room stuck in the middle of a field. I leave tomorrow, I come back home on Thursday, and I am going to be DESPERATE for something fun to do this weekend.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:10 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


This thread has been great fun.

My first real job - for which I was hired by strangers and got paid in something other than cash - was as a barista at a small coffee shop in one of the denser parts of greater Los Angeles. I think I'd just turned 16, but the owner who interviewed me forgot to ask about things like age until she'd already offered me a job. The actual work was exhausting, and the pay barely covered gas to get there, but it was a great experience. It was the first time in my life that I got to encounter adults as an equal. (Well, service staff; but that's a lot closer than child.) Getting to know the crew of regulars from far beyond my ordinary experience - city college students who seemed incredibly sophisticated and worldly, the dude who drove limos to subsidize his passion for professional bagpipe performance, working artists and musicians, the delightful bar tenders from next door, the homeless guys who would wander in on a lazy Sunday afternoon - was far more transformative than the 60s counter-culture books I sneakily read from the used book sales rack that covered one wall of the shop.

Best of all, I got to hang out with Chuck E. Weiss, a person so unbelievably cool he really belongs in fiction. I'd be astonished if he remembered me. . . but, I sure am glad I volunteered for back-to-back Saturday night closings and Sunday openings in order to watch the guy perform. I learned a lot more by helping The Goddamn Liars carry equipment out to their car at 3am than I did from the textbooks I kept hidden away under the counter.

Then the cafe got bought out by an arrogant rich asshole who renamed it after himself, installed internet kiosks, and got rid of all the books and local art the week he arrived. He set about instituting a culture of fear and suspicion that poisoned everything that was good about the place. He drove it into bankruptcy within a year. I'm glad I quit before the end came. But, it was really great while it lasted. I'm grateful I don't have to do it forever, and I have deep respect for those who do so, but for a couple of years it sure was a lot of fun.
posted by eotvos at 9:45 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Our local Shakespeare in the park group (Flatwater Shakespeare) is doing The Tempest this month so I'm definitely going to go see it.

The one time I was going to get to see TheTempest at Shakespeare in the Park, it was rained out. You can't buy material like that.

I've never had a weird job, either. I've worked for and with some Grade-A weirdos, but at perfectly mundane jobs.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:23 AM on June 4


I had my first and weirdest two jobs at 14 years old. They were real jobs, 20+ hours a week each.

Wire straightener at a metal fabrication plant. Bring giant roll of wire to the wire straightening machine machine. Feed the tip of the wire into the machine and through the rollers. Start the machine. Hit the red button if something jams. Repeat. Sounds boring, but I was a 14 year old with access to all kinds of scrap metal and machines. I was allowed to use almost any machine, including the welders and the torches. I made sweet shurikens and a "shuriken crossbow" out of spring steel and cable.

Intestine inspector at meat packing plant. Take the already washed natural sausage casings (intestine) and inspect for holes. This was a farm to finished product operation, so I got to help with everything from births to vaccinations to artificial insemination to slaughter and butchering all the way to final packaging. More than once I ended up covered in shit and/or blood. I still eat a lot of meat.

After that every job has become less and less weird. I am OK with that.
posted by Dr. Curare at 10:45 AM on June 4 [6 favorites]


First job: Cashier at a Waldbaum's supermarket in Brooklyn the summer between junior and senior year of high school. I learned to be rude to people who deserved it and the sense of power that comes when you're making minimum wage.

Weirdest job: A guy on the Upper West Side who was really into softball paid me to pitch him batting practice in Riverside Park. After three days, my arm felt as if it was going to fall off, and one day he had to pay me almost completely in change.

June: Moving back into my apartment with my family after almost a year displaced by a fire in our building. Almost finishing off chemo -- surgery got rid of my colon cancer, this is to make sure it doesn't come back. Starting my new job at work after they changed all the jobs here just enough to make everyone have to reapply -- I got what I wanted. And going to the Mermaid Parade.
posted by AJaffe at 10:59 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Dr. Curare: you've made me think that a ten-year career in theater has probably also reset my calibration for "weird job task" as well.

I definitely know that it's re-set my calibration for "bad managers". Every time I've been at a job for the past 15 years or so, and someone jokes about how such and such a manager must be a challenge to work with, I tell them the story about the director whom I called "the Crazy Scottish Diva" amongst my friends. And I'll follow that up with another comparison to the producr of that same show: "This company does actually have a worker's compensation insurance policy, yes? And if I did get injured on the job, they wouldn't secretly try to pay off my doctor not to rat them out for not having a policy, and then stiff him on the payment, right? Then congratulations, this is not the worst-managed company I've worked for."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:59 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


My first job was a vendor for the local AAA baseball team. The Louisville Redbirds, when I followed baseball, I was a Cardinal fan because of it. Watching Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, Todd Zeile left memories. The exhibition game between the Cards and the Reds was always a highlight too. I don't think I still have the Ozzie Smith autograph anywhere, but I did get to be within feet of The Wiz, ya'll.

I was 15-16, and it was 'fun'. Wearing polyester in the blazing heat and humidity, carrying a tray of over filled pepsi. I was 'the kid' though, and took a lot of good natured ribbing. ESPECIALLY after the local paper used a pic of me in uniform for an article. Oh the beer vendors knew how to give "the business" to a late blooming teenaged nerd, lemme tell ya'. The job paid well, when there were home games. I made about 30-40 bucks a normal night.

My favorite memory was the night of the Beach Boys concert, being stuck behind a bunch of non baseball fans in a corridor and exasperatedly sighing. A yuppie woman turned around and said, "Patience is a virtue."

To which I replied, "Not when you make commission. Would you like to buy a Pepsi?" [She didn't]
posted by DigDoug at 11:56 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


For the first 20 years of my life, my family had a business, so it was sort of assumed that I'd help out. So my very first job was working at my parent's dry-cleaners. We had a satellite drop-off/pick-up station. I did that for about 10 years of my life.

My very first non-family job was working at a book store as a cashier. That was both the best and the worst job for me because I ended up pouring half my pay check back into books that I purchased at 30% off. I worked that for a few years along side our family hotel business while I was at university. It was a busy couple of years.
posted by Fizz at 12:06 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid my sisters and I used to try to sell our neighbours things. We sold the normal items for Guides and band, but also dirt we dug up from our back yard ("planting soil"), water we'd soaked wild rose petals in ("perfume"), and other junk we thought was very enterprising. We did not get rich.

As a teen I made money babysitting, tutoring kids in music, helping my dad at his computer shop, and doing chores for family friends. I didn't really like doing any of it, but I was very shy and nervous and the exposure to lots of different (nice) people was super beneficial for me.

I've had some mildly unusual jobs. I've had to do a lot of gross or uncomfortable things, especially in costuming. Like, when I had to repair and make alterations to a skid marked, man-sized, velour onesie. Or the many times I've dug through a box of dance belts that were so impregnated with human musk that my eyes watered. Or the times I've sewn up the buttcrack of someone's sweat soaked pants.
posted by Stonkle at 12:08 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


First job: Working the hardware department at the local Meijer store, for three months ca. 1995. This was back when big-box discount stores still maintained the pretense of having trained/knowledgeable staff in their hardware sections, well before your dedicated home improvement stores picked up that baton. In any case they definitely weren't hiring or paying for that expertise, because they brought me on even though I could barely tell a nail from a screw. I still remember my first/only attempts at mixing custom paint colors and using the glass cutter (both completely untrained), neither of which went well at all.

Weirdest job: Hands down, when I found myself terrifyingly unemployed ca. 2009 and ended up applying to work at a local amusement park due to a lack of other viable options. They hired me as a souvenir seller, and after two weeks they quickly promoted me to assistant managing the big candy shop on their main street area. I was put in charge of a constantly rotating cast of teenagers, most of them minors who could not legally work past certain hours even though the park stayed open well past 10 PM most nights, which made closing up after park close into a nightly struggle.

Attrition was high due to kids suddenly quitting mid-shift or getting themselves fired for grabbing handfuls of gummi worms out of the bulk bins, so about a month in the owners brought in a large group of Chinese exchange students as cheap labor (sigh) for the peak season. For various reasons (mostly the language barrier and good ol' fashioned Middle American racism), that turned into a huge culture clash that I got caught in the middle of. It was a long hot summer, and it was where I realized that retail was no longer for me.

But before the end of my stint at the park, I went back to running a souvenir concession for their yearly Halloween festival, where I sold t-shirts and light up novelties for a (I kid you not) hardcore little-person wrestling show that they had brought in as an attraction. 2009 was a weird fucking time for America.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:08 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]


Late to this thread.

Technically my first job was my paper route, followed by a short stint as a dishwasher in a restaurant. I also picked apples for a couple of hours, filled a bushel with a bunch of drops, and earned maybe $2.00.

But my first significant job was at a Burger King, where i worked for about 4 1/2 years, from around age 16 to 21. It was at a truck stop on the Massachusetts Turnpike so, even though I worked at a Burger King, I worked for the Marriott Corporation. I got to meet Bill Marriott once. And by "meet" I mean I got to wave at him when my manager pointed to us and said "and this is the kitchen crew. Hey guys say hello to Bill Marriott!"

That's me on the left during our crew holiday party, held in the dining room between dinner and lunch. The guy on the back right was one of the biggest psychopaths I've ever met in my life. Those were the "good" uniforms that replaced the "goofy" uniforms.

My name tag says "Production Leader" because I spent a day at, I shit you not, Burger King University. There I got to learn about why it's ok to microwave mayonnaise and what exactly happens when a fly lands on your food. (Spoiler: he shits and vomits or something. It isn't good.)

It was the sort of shit job you have when you're a teenager that you HATE, but now some days I miss it. It was a tough job but I had no real responsibility and if I fucked up the only consequences is someone would have to wait a bit longer for their burger. If I really didn't feel like working I could pick a fight with my manger, he'd kick me out, and I'd return the next day as if nothing had happened.

I grew up there. It's where I had my first taste of alcohol (gin and Slice while working the register), smoked pot for the first time and had my first sexual experience with another person. I once worked a shift on LSD, tossing cheese slices into the fryolator and watching them melt.

About a third of the crew were prisoners in pre-release programs so it was the first time I ever met anyone who didn't grow up in my middle-class suburb. These were rapists and murderers and bank robbers and safe crackers. Some were really cool, others not so much. Lots of guys in for drugs. I'm about 60% sure I worked with George Jung but I don't really have any way of confirming that and I'm not sure he was even locked up in Massachusetts. But there was a guy who would brag that he "had it all" before getting busted for drugs and I remember him looking exactly like George Jung.

The restrooms were interesting places. Once time a guy looked under the stall at me while I was making a poop. All the trash barrels were filled with "used" Hustler magazines and other trucker porn. Occasionally the state cops would bust an 18 wheeler that was modified to be a mobile brothel.

The store was located on the Eastbound lane of the Mass Pike, between Worcester and Boston. The main concert venue back then was the Worcester Centrum. So whenever there was a concert we'd get a huge late night rush of that band's fans. My manager once called the cops on AC/DC fans because he didn't know what their chant of "ANGUS!" meant and he felt threatened. Judas Priest fans snuck in a cat and killed it in our lobby. Prince fans were all amazingly attractive.

A bunch of celebrities came through. Ric Ocasic and Paulina Poriskova, Carly Simon, Motley Crue, King Kong Bundy. A pre-Simpsons Yeardly smith came through once and I only knew here as "That girl from The Legend of Billy Jean."

I bet I could step back into a Burger King today and run any station without retraining. Pickles, ketchup, onion, lettuce, tomato, mayo. That's what's on a Whopper.

When you work at a place like that long enough you see it all. There were days we ran out of fries, days we ran out of burger patties, and everything else. You haven't lived until you've told 1000 people in a row that you don't have any burgers today and yes, you're aware the place is called "Burger King."

Fast food service jobs suck and everyone should have one at some point in their lives.
posted by bondcliff at 12:35 PM on June 4 [11 favorites]


Unskilled construction labor. The first thing I ever did for real money was when they handed me a sledgehammer at about 630AM and told be to start busting ceramic tiles off the floor of this old seafood restaurant they were going to turn into a for-profit business school. Whee.

Also later I was helping roof -- not actually roofing because unskilled but just schlepping bundles of shingles and such up to the actual roofers. This was on the Gulf coast of Florida, where... I forget which river... dumped into the Gulf, in June or July. I've never been sure how hot it was up on that roof because the thermometer I brought with me only went up to 140F.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:36 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


My first paid job was when I was about 14: Picking cherries.

The next little town to the north of us was full of orchards, mainly cherry orchards, and during picking season they needed lots of help. The cherries we picked were shipped off to some factory to be made into maraschino cherries. They paid us about 10 cents a pound. I picked about two weeks and made a grand total of maybe $40.

FWIW that is when I first developed an appreciation for the migrant workers. They were mostly Latinx and we understood that they traveled from area to area to do whatever agricultural work was available, such as helping with the harvest. For the cherry harvest they came to town for maybe 2-3 weeks at the peak of the harvest and they they were gone.

What was astonishing is that they were picking literally 10 to 20 times faster than we did. I was young and dumb and didn't know anything about ladders or trees or picking things, so it was easy to understand how someone could be quite a bit faster than I was. But these workers were way, way beyond that. They easily picked in one day as much as I picked the entire season. They moved f-a-s-t.

In cherry picking, some fruit is close to the ground and other is up high enough to require a ladder to reach. Novices like me would pick all the cherries we could reach from the ground, then spend a lot of time setting and moving the ladder to finish off the relatively few that remained up high out of reach. The pros would set a ladder, pick everything from bottom to top from that position, and pick the entire tree with 3 or 4 ladder sets.

One reason I made so little is one of the managers roped me into finishing off the tops of a bunch of trees where someone else had already picked all the low-hanging fruit. They paid double for that, but the trouble is maybe 1/3 of the fruit was left up high, but it took easily twice as long to pick as the first 2/3. So even with double pay, you came out behind. Even more so for me, because I had--and still have--a healthy fear of falling off of ladders. It took me a lot of ladder sets to finish off those last few cherries.

Upside: I didn't fall out of a tree and break an arm, leg, neck, etc.

Life lesson: I trim the $#&* out of our cherry tree annually so that every cherry can be reached without a ladder.
posted by flug at 3:13 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


I forgot a pivotal job. A friend of a friend was the head nurse at a home nursing agency. She hired me part-time to help audit nurses notes. I'd read the doctors orders and then go through the notes to make sure they were being followed and flag oddities to give to her to decide. This agency specialized in *very* *very* sick children which was a bit rough on the feels.

This is the job I had when I decided to become homeless. Something else happened and it was down to moving and trying to scrape by and still being on the edge or just saying fuck it. I had done one before but not the other.

So I woke up one morning, shaved my head, packed a backpack and walked out the door with very little idea of what came next.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:49 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Weirdest job, at age 11 or 12 making Christmas wreaths in a neighbor's garage for the Christmas tree stand that they ran. I was paid 10 cents per wreath under the table. My take-home for the holiday season was $11.00. I felt like a millionaire. They mostly employed the neighborhood kids, but there was a group of adults that were very competitive about their wreath making. I'm certain they hated working with us.

First real W-2 job, movie theater concession stand. I started on the day of my 16th birthday and ended up staying there throughout college. I worked box office, concessions, usher, projectionist, assistant manager. They would hold the job for me while I was away, and I could work on winter/ summer breaks. After graduation they hired me as city manger for all of the theaters in town. I think that I resigned after a couple of weeks when I realized how much uncompensated overtime that I would be working. I made some life-long friends while working there, and fondly remember some of the most idiotic teenage adventures.

Somewhat related-2nd weirdest job- I took a job at the movie theater in my college town and was promoted to assistant manager after two weeks at the 2nd-run theater across town. On the first day the manager explained that they had been robbed multiple times in the past month (you could see where the thieves had used a crow bar to pry open the office door) and I would need to take the cash deposit out at the end of the night in my purse so that no one would know that I was carrying several hundred dollars. I quit after the first weekend. Despite my short stint, I did manage to get my roommates in for a free showing of every movie we had that weekend. Strangely enough, that theater is now a church.
posted by JennyJupiter at 4:06 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


First: Assistant custodian at the local Methodist church each Saturday when I was 15 or 16. My boss was fond of hammering home the adage "work smarter, not harder" which for better or worse has stuck with me. It was a pretty low-key job, the only time I really didn't like it was the weekend I had to work while attending an overnight fast that the youth director had somehow convinced the Sunday School class was "meaningful". While all the rest of the kids were still in their sleeping bags on the classroom floor, I had to wake up early Saturday to go mop bathroom floors and empty trash cans and vacuum the chapel without so much as the glass of OJ we'd been promised that morning, before sheepishly joining my fellow teens later in the day. That was the first of many steps away from the church's flock and the vanilla middle-class kids I'd grown up with.

I guess that since I was being paid in cash, technically it wasn't my first Proper Job. If having a W-2 is the criteria, my first "real" job was doing data entry in a state agency, that set me on my IT career course for (most of) the rest of my life...but ehh, that story's not near as much fun to tell.

Weirdest - a tie:

1. Walking up and down Cocoa Beach (on the east coast of Florida, near where I lived at the time) during tourist season, trying to give away invitations to a "luncheon" and sales pitch for some crappy timeshare bungalows nearby. We were to eventually get some pittance for each person that actually showed up to the pitch. I only managed to give out maybe two of them in two 5-6 hour days; by the end of the second day I was so frustrated and fed up (not to mention hot and sweaty and irritable) that I dumped the rest of the invitations on the manager's desk with a note that I was quitting, and walked out without having received a single cent.

2: This was an odd time in my life; I had just moved from Florida to the mountains of Western NC where I spent a couple years being half-guest/half-worker on an organic farm (or rather "organic" "farm", but that's a tale for another day). I spent one of the winters working for a Vietnam veteran making wax flower candles that we then sold at craft shows. I didn't get paid a lot but that was the only work I'd managed to get at that point.

Bonus - one of the coolest: the summer I was 17 years old (maybe the same summer as above? the summer after? I don't remember anymore), riding my bike every Saturday and Sunday 5 miles each way - including the *tall* bridge over the Indian River - to work in a concession stand at a popular spot on Cocoa Beach, cooking burgers and hot dogs and soft pretzels and filling endless tall waxed-paper cups with soda or beer (which I was technically forbidden to do as I was underage, but I hated domestic beer anyway so there was no danger of me getting drunk on the job), all the while watching the Beautiful People play beach volleyball and listening to late-70's rock blasting out of the stand's speakers and over the sand while the ocean breeze kept us pleasantly cool despite the constantly-on griddle.

June plans - I'm really looking forward to a local Metafilter campout near the end of the month!
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:41 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


My first job was at a carnival souvenir booth at the local county fair. The carny I worked for had me call out "Last chance for happiness" to the fairgoers. A neighbor boy came by and gave me the stinkeye. I later figured out that he had been promised a job but when I came around asking for work the carny went with the young girl (me) to lure in the customers. It was fun but, ugh, I felt bad.
posted by goodsearch at 9:42 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Oooh, weirdest job. I dressed in an apple costume and handed out coupons for apple juice. The costume was a big apple constructed on a framework that rested on my head. I was inside with just arms and legs exposed. It was hard to see out of the dang thing. A couple boys ran around me, taunting me and then one of them bit my arm. Ouch!!!
posted by goodsearch at 10:03 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


I am just realizing now that I got paid under the table for my first job... no W-2, no income taxes. Duh! Never thought of that before! I worked at a booth in the mall selling remodeling services for a friend of my mom's for a few bucks an hour, plus a commission if I could get someone to sign up for an estimate.

This summer I'm teaching a full semester of Physics 101 in 3 weeks, 8-4 MTWTF. 8 days to go. Pray for me. After that I get to / have to dig out my old code and finish my modeling and try to get a paper started and figure out how I'm going to pay myself for half of sabbatical in '19-'20 since our grant didn't come through.
posted by BrashTech at 6:34 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


My first job in high school was as a server at Dairy Queen on Route 9 in Sayreville. He only hired women because he said and I quote, "Women make me money because sex sells."

The grossest day was the one we were invaded by a seemingly endless wave of flying ants, and had to keep the customers out front from realizing while we swatted and swept them out the door in the back.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 6:52 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I guess my very first job was making/selling ice-cream-nut-sundaes-on-a-stick at the Indiana State Fair. They're squares of vanilla ice cream, with a stick in them, dipped in a caramel topping and rolled in nuts. I had family that ran concessions stands all over the fairgrounds. Long, hot, tiring over-12-hour days. You go home feeling sweaty and completely sticky from the ice cream and caramel. But, I got to meet and hang with a bunch of old-school carnies, which was quite an education for a 15-16-year-old kid. Cash-money job, too.

My first for-realz, "professional" job right out of school was doing newspaper adverts for a regional retail chain (L.S.Ayres, for my fellow Hoosiers) It was a great education, especially the part where I got to direct studio photo shoots on a weekly basis. Mostly table-top product shoots. The fun shoots were for Sunday color inserts, where the pics had to much nicer and creative than the standard b/w product shots. So, I got to work-out staging, dramatic lighting, and artistic framing. It was fun.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:41 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


I posted a practice take of my DJ night. I didn't end up getting a recording of the real thing because things got hectic, and, well, often temporary art is the best and I feel less self conscious as a performative DJ.

It's a bit rough in spots (see description in link) but still a really nice collection of music and long form deep house music mixing.

A last minute addition to my set list was the new DJ Koze track that was recently posted, which is a lot of fun to mix and play with and sounds incredible on big speakers.
posted by loquacious at 12:09 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


We went fishing yesterday morning but it was too windy and then my mom dropped her pole into the lake. Unfortunately she was in a kayak at the time and not fishing from shore.

Fishing sucks.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:39 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


My early jobs included working in a coleslaw factory (you wanted to avoid the cabbage chopper if you could) and later working nights in a baguette factory, smoking enormous spliffs with Jon the supervisor behind the bins on a break.

As for June, I may already have peaked as I went to the Buckingham Palace Garden Party yesterday and it was great. Bit disappointed by the lack of Monarch - only Charles and Anne attended but it was an incredibly well-organised and surprisingly relaxed event. Plus we got to leave by the front entrance so all the tourists were taking pictures of us as we went on our way.
posted by jontyjago at 8:41 AM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Very First Job I Was Given Money For: my father had a drafting-designing business. This was back in the days of blueprints. I'd run and take care of the blueprint printers after school. I was eight when I started doing that; he'd give me spending money.

Second first job: proofreader for my mother's drafting-designing business. Not long after, AutoLISP coder for 3D drafts. Also took care of plotting. I was twelve when that started.

Third first job: Red Cross certified babysitter. Kids who were babies when I met them are now in their twenties, heh.

Fourth first job: piano teacher.

Fifth first job but First Salaried Job, Short-Term: front desk cashier during the summer season at the rim gift shop at Crater Lake National Park *grin*. I was quickly given counting-in and balancing duties for all the cash registers; still use those skills to this day, twenty years later. Was proud to balance my own till to the penny several times. Got lots of chocolate (the informal reward for a balanced-to-the-penny till) that way. Also made boat tour announcements over the store PA in French.

My very first long-term salaried job was actually only twelve years ago at age thirty. Freelanced some more before that.
posted by fraula at 11:00 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


I'm old, and this chain is now gone, I think, but my first job, at 14, was as a waitress at Sambo's. Like a Dennys, but with extra racism. I didn't last long, and went to work running errands for my dad's machine shop, and the other race shops and the scrap yards. Boy that came in handy at 16, when I wanted rebuild a scrapped 64 Mustang. My gods, that car was sweet when the all the shops got done adding stuff.

Weirdest job, chainmail model for sexy chainmail. You know that outfit Tina Turner wore in Mad Max? I worked for that artist, and my job, really, was to walk around in chain mail (for a given value of chain mail, where svortski crystals and see through patterns made it more fetish gear than anything, imho )at events. The dresses had price tags well into five figures, some of them, and they sold! It was a weird summer. The eighties were a weird decade.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:37 PM on June 6 [8 favorites]


We had a Sambo’s in our town!! My brother and I called it “The Quadruple S” - which stood for Super Slow Service Sambo’s. We were unsurprised when it went out of business. Sorry, SecretAgent. I’m sure you weren’t our server ;-)

I didn’t realize the racism in the name until years later.
posted by greermahoney at 12:08 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


First job at fifteen back in the 60s, during high school holidays, dusting shelves of homewares and occasionally answering phones at my mum's workplace, where she was secretary. Other duties included commiserating on the drive home, when she would vent her frustration over sexism in office politics.

Is being a goldfish a weird job, is being a sandwich, or a pudding, or a paper bag? Not when you're a puppeteer, working in theatre companies and picking up the odd ad. Did that late 70s to early 90s - best job ever.
posted by valetta at 12:10 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


There was a Sambo's in the nearest relatively big town to where I grew up. The name changed to "No Place Like Sam's" at some point, and then it was bought out by Denny's. I remember getting steak and eggs there after a concert.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:15 AM on June 7


Oooh, no, I tell a lie. Weirdest job was as a mermaid. With a swimming pig named Ralph. That was probably my weirdest job. The eighties, man. It was a strange time.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:33 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


first job was during a summer when I was living in Vancouver, Canada with my grandmother to basically take her to medical appointments and be a caretaker substitute for my parents, who were spending the summer months in California, and needed a break from her. The appointments were pretty predictable and my grandmother was pretty low maintenance, so I just picked a job as counter staff for a small cafe in Yaletown. I hesitate to call it a barista because espresso wasn't our thing. It was more of a pool hall/lunch place that happened to sell coffee drinks, and it was at a time when Yaletown was still in early gentrification so it wasn't a terribly busy job. I came away from it with pocket change, a few more books read, and a chocolate chip muffin habit.

The following summer, I was an accounting assistant for a local pharmacy, reviewing charge accounts for regular customers and settling their payments while also sending out delinquency notices, all while crafting stories of their lives from their purchasing habits. My boss controlled the radio in our basement office, and had a habit for listening to the local easy listening/adult contemporary station and I marked time by identifying when Dire Straits' "Walk of Life" got played because that meant that "Money for Nothing" was likely going to be played in three hours, or wondering if today's pair of Eurhythmics songs would include "Sweet Dreams"

The weirdest/most exciting of my early college jobs was being a resident IT technician when our college was in the midst of rolling out Ethernet across the campus, and they needed us to visit dorm rooms for students who wanted to get on the Internet, and do ethernet card and Winsock installations. It was a lot of evening appointments, walking in to the dorm rooms of classmates, and sometimes walking in on makeout sessions or angry fights or other weird boundaries when you enter someone's living space.

There's also the fact that I'm a ULC minister, and after my fourth wedding, when I actually had to sit down with the couple and review ceremony templates that I had created and talked them through different options for how we could structure their wedding that I realized that this was crossing the boundary from "favor that I occasionally do for my friends" to "pseudo job"

---

June for us has been mostly housekeeping -- spring cleaning, freshening up the plants on our balcony/patio, and prepping for electrical renovation work that we have scheduled at the end of the month.
posted by bl1nk at 6:47 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


My first job was as a country radio DJ for a 100kW station in my hometown. I'd gotten interviewed as "local kid wins at FBLA convention, going to nationals" - and they mentioned, hey they needed some computer work done, was I interested in helping out over christmas break?

That turned into a 36-hour-a-week stint "running the board" and controlling the entire station from 6pm-12am six days a week. After a year, I stopped playing recordings of other folks announcing and got to do it myself.

M-F 8am-3pm: high school, 6pm-12am: radio station
Saturdays: 6pm-12am radio.

Did this for four years until I had to go off to college.
posted by mrbill at 3:20 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


My first job was babysitting. I took a course at summer school or after school or something, got my certificate, marched my ass across the street to the F family and offered up my services. First time alone, had to call my mom to help me change the baby lol. I ended up becoming a champion babysitter in high demand for years. By high school I was burned out and found other work that paid more.

Weirest job was at a place that reupholstered office chairs and cubicle walls. The people in my dept were batty, there was constant turmoil, a temp comitted suicide. They hired thru temp agencies and it took FOREVER to get hired permanently. While we were both waiting to get made perm, he asked me why it took so long and I didn’t say what I was really worried about, my pee test, figured my pot smoking was showing up. I just said I dunno man. Anyway he killed himself a few days later and it just put a pall on the job. Strange mean people and I just cut out one day.

My plans for June are to redouble my efforts on eating healthy, clean my horrible desk at home, and if the mothball odor ever dissipates in neighbors garage (ugh they threw a whole box in the garage eaves then sealed it shut and its BAD), spend more time outside grilling and chilling.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 6:12 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


This was such a fun thread! As children, my sister & I were always trying to make a buck, hustling like we had mouths to feed. So my first job was a swimmer in a pool show that we produced, choreographed, and marketed ourselves and sold tickets to our neighborhood friends.
Because of this thread, I now realize that when I worked evenings at the neighborhood Bressler's Ice Cream shop the summer after 10th grade in high school, I was paid under the table because I was handed cash at the end of every shift. It was fun because my friends would visit, and that job desensitized me to ice cream for life.
My first W2 job was a summer program sponsored by USUHS, the Federal-government sponsored medical school for the military, specifically for teen scientists to participate in lab research. Looking back, it was an incredible experience for a teenager, and I learned so much, but specifically that I didn't want to be a lab scientist (a good lesson!). I literally worked alongside actual PhD candidates and did my own experiment. I also learned about the drudgery of 9 to 5, as I commuted in DC traffic down I-270 like all the other working stiffs. I was gobsmacked to have $1100 by the end of the summer.I felt like a baller.
posted by honey badger at 10:28 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


First: Customer service counter at Circuit City in the nineties. Mostly just selling small items (CDs) and coordinating large item (TV) loading by the warehouse guys in the back. However, we also had to fax in people's applications for Circuit City credit cards and explain, upon rejection, that no, I (a teenager) had not made that decision.

Weird: Math department IT/tutor in University. Maintain the department's 3 or 4 classrooms full of Solaris machines and teach low-level calc students Matlab and how to do homework. Upsides: keys to the math department so we could drop our own homework off at 4am with a note saying we're going to miss lecture later that same morning, 3am roller chair races in the hallways. Downside: I think I had to put down a deposit for the aforementioned keys and never got it back.
posted by axiom at 12:47 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


First: My mother was head librarian at a high school library. She used to pay me 25 cents per hour to shelve books when I was seven or eight.

I did a lot of lawn mowing and house painting when I was a teenager. I spent one summer playing the drums in the Fort Henry Guard. I hated the job, and did really badly because, I now realise, I could not follow orders nor could I think on my feet.

The most amazing job I had was a summer job while I was in university. I worked for the Brunswick Mining and Smelting lead/zinc/silver concentrator at Bathurst, New Brunswick. I kept these conveyor belts and these grinding mills running. I was a member of the United Steelworkers, and I made $13 and change per hour at a time when that was a fortune for a summer job. It was a trainload of concentrate from "my" concentrator that caused the 1987 CN Nepisiguit Sub Runaway Train (previously on MeFi).

I have worked with a few weird people, but I guess my only really weird job was inventorying the computers in the Toronto South Detention Centre.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:20 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Late to the party as usual, but still...

First job that I got an official paycheck for: McDonald's, your typical first teenager job. Nothing interesting or out of the ordinary (with either customers, fellow employees, or the job itself) that I can remember. (There were probably a few Kitchen Nightmares scenarios regarding food and cleanliness, but as a bored clock-watching teenager I didn't notice them).

Haven't had any "weird jobs" per se. Weirdest boss was when I worked at a well-known Bay Area arts organization over a decade ago and they hired an accounting manager who managed to mix eccentricity with being a Boss From Hell. Highlights included her riding horses before work and then coming to the office still dressed in her riding gear (complete with horseshit still on her boots), and when she tried to institute a "bring your pet to work day" as an excuse to bring her pet bird to work with her. (Said idea came to a screeching halt the first day when said bird bit the finger of someone's visiting kid). When word got out that she was finally let go, the accounting staff (myself included) was literally hugging each other, and someone put up balloons by each of our desks. (Our controller - who was one floor above us and admittedly wasn't interacting with her on a daily basis - came down and saw the balloons, but apparently knew enough not to say anything).

Weirdest company I've interviewed with: some sort of small internet or company-related company, headed by a bunch of really beefy, (I'm guessing) ex-jocks. The pay was slightly better than what I was getting at my then-current job, but they only offered a week's vacationtime, and they kinda expected you to go on vacations with them as a group. They made me an offer but I decided to go with another company. (Let's just say I wouldn't be surprised if said company didn't make it to the bursting of the first internet bubble).

June: saw a few bands (Lumerians, Slowdive, A Place to Bury Strangers). Now for the rest of the month I'll be preparing for our trip to NY/Brooklyn for the David Bowie Is... exhibit as well as hopefully checking out other museums and Central Park (thanks to everyone who gave us info on hotels and transportation before. We're playing it safe and staying at a Holiday Express that's near the subway). Now we just have to figure out the best way to get from Laguardia to the Brooklyn Holiday Inn Express, and vice versa. (Cab? Lyft? Airlink and hope there are enough passengers to keep us from paying $85 each?)
posted by gtrwolf at 5:08 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


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