Monday, March 9, 2009

Work it, girl.

Lately I have read a lot of blogs (Pistols & Punchline, to name a few) where people are discussing bad jobs that they have had over the years. Being that I come from a long line of disgruntled, underpaid, overworked people with a blue collar buttoned firmly up to my eyebrows, I too can lay claim to having worked some monumentally soul-crushing/I-should-probably-be-embarrassed-I-did-this jobs in my 29-odd years on the planet. Some lasted but a day, others lasted much, much longer than they should have, much like this introduction.

My first "real" job (beyond babysitting and mowing lawns- good stories both for another day) ever was at the convenience store about a mile from my house. Being that the town I grew up in was a small farming community with a Town "hub" consisting of two gas stations, a hair salon, a car-repair shop, an on-again, off-again restaurant, a post office, a few insurance agencies and a teeny museum devoted to the milling of grain (I shit you not)- the fact that I scored one of the very few jobs available at ALL was huge, to say the least. I wore a red polo shirt and jeans, stocked the shelves, cleaned out the soft-serve machine in the deli area (most hated job in the place. Do NOT, I repeat- do NOT eat soft-serve ice cream from a gas station, that's all I'm sayin'), ate cookies, drank gallons of coke from the fountain machine, ran the register, said I cleaned the restroom but never did, and swept the sidewalk occasionally. All this for the handsome sum of $3.85/hour. I was sixteen- a fact that never seemed to deter some of the local divorced/single men in the area from hitting on me. Repeatedly. One asked me on a near-weekly basis if I wanted to go for a ride on his motorcycle. Dude! I'm SIXTEEN! This was before the whole Katie Poirer incident, and I was often scheduled to close up (midnight) by myself, which even then I thought was a monumentally bad idea. Let's take a 16-17 year-old girl, leave her alone at a high-dollar-volume business right on the freeway, and let's put her in charge of locking up, counting large sums of cash and walking out to her car, alone. Yeah! That sounds like a GREAT idea! One night when I was once again alone, some creepy guy came in (after milling about for a good 20 minutes, making me very nervous) and says "Looks like a good night for a robbery!"
He wandered back out to his truck and started rummaging through the back- I could only assume he was looking for a rifle, a clown costume and some duct tape- while I freaked the fuck OUT. I called the one and only law-enforcement official in town- a lovable but less than reliable guy who lived on my road and whose family we knew well and spent a lot of time with. He was a nice guy, but he wasn't exactly "tough" or "reliable". Think more Andy Griffith, less Vic Maki. Luck was on my side that night, as he actually answered his phone, dragged himself out of bed, and was there giving the perp the stink-eye in a matter of 5-10 minutes. I'm pretty sure I dodged a pretty nasty bullet that evening, and I quit shortly thereafter when I got a new job...

Hotel Maid!
Worst. Job. Ever.
Everyone I worked with seemed as if they had resigned themselves to a lifetime of drudgery around age 8, when the only gift for them under the tree was a kid-size broom and dustpan set with a tag attached that read, "dreams are for the pretty kids. Keep your expectations low. Merry Christmas!" On the rare day that I walked in sporting a good mood or had the audacity to smile, the head housekeeper would see it as her personal mission to take my soul, spray industrial-strength toilet bowl cleaner on it and scrub that sucker free of any hope beyond a life on my knees (that's what SHE said!) cleaning bathtubs and picking gum out of carpeting with "YO! MTV Raps!" playing in the background. The occasional perk of some miniscule tip (rarely happened), an unopened bottle of booze or a forgotten copy of People magazine just wasn't enough to sustain me. I needed out. My hands were raw from chemicals and the thought of having to spend even another second with Pruneymug Bitchbuster was fast decreasing my will to live, as was the $4.14/hour paycheck. The navy, seersucker-striped, polyester "blouse" with matching navy poly pants uniform wasn't exactly a huge selling point either. Sexy.

Next, I got an offer I couldn't refuse ($4.50 an hour? Jackpot!!) to work as a cashier at Target. Not much to say about this one except that it was...okay. The head cashier was a brillo-haired, grumpy, moon-faced woman who was married to some 2nd or 3rd cousin of mine and had the sort of over-inflated ego one gets working in a small town with the title "manager" attached to their name tag for too many years. I didn't really like this job, but the discount and the mindless nature of the work made it passable. This was around 1991.

I also worked during this time as a waitress at a bowling alley. Yes, you read that right. Bowling alley waitress. I was the girl who wandered down the lanes in my tight black jeans, fetching Bud lights and brandy sours on "league night". You only got decent tips if you flirted with the guys bowling, which I flat-out refused to do. Needless to say, my biggest night in tips amounted to around $20. One of the bartenders there raked it in with her permed, curling ironed, over-processed blonde helmet and jeans so tight that the phrase "camel hoove" comes to mind, because "camel toe" really wouldn't do this thing justice. She wore enough makeup to supply most of the 1987 "Miss America" contestants single-handedly, and her name was Tammie. Perfect. I made very little money here, but as my rent at this time was $115/month, it really didn't matter.

Also, in no particular order, (along with how long I lasted in each profession) as this post is starting to resemble Crystal Gayle's hair- long, boring, and won't she just freaking cut it off already??? : Janitor (one day), Visual merchandiser (I dressed mannequins & stuff- 2.5 years), Retail grunt at Kohl's (2.5 years), manager of sylvester's in Duluth (some of you know what this was- 3 years), Cosmetics salesgirl at Dayton's (3 months), clothing salesperson at Dayton's (2 weeks), restaurant hostess (2 years), Server (on and off for forever), line cook at a restaurant where the owner wore the tightest jeans ever and had his fly down all day (one day), Banquet server at an old-school steakhouse with the black dress and the whole to-do (1 day), Temp at a jewelery manufacturer where I inspected rings all day (9 months), temp at a high-tech business where they left me alone all day and I broke the fax machine, couldn't figure out how to answer the phones and accidentally stole the washroom key (one day), temp working in the temp office (3 days), and many, many other retail/restaurant jobs.

And the one job I'm still waiting for?

Lottery Winner.

I feel I'm qualified, and I have proven that my spending skills are truly unmatched. So, um...can I put you down as a reference?
Thanks- you're a doll.

Happy Monday, my hard-working, camel-toed little grunts. Happy Monday.



John said...

Worst job ever? Olan Mills Photographer.

They would book something absurd like 15 sittings an hour. That's right. I had 4 minutes to shoot families of 27, including shots of:

• the entire clan
• the brothers
• the sisters
• the brothers and sisters
• the individual families
• the kids
• the girls
• the boys
• the kids with Grandma
• individual shots of everybody

I had 4 minutes to do this. Except that it took 40. On a GOOD day. Open the door, and there's 400 people in the lobby waiting for their "4 minutes." And they're all very, VERY pissed off.

Insert revolver in mouth. Pull trigger.

Kim said...

Oh my. I never realized Olan Mills photography was such a high stress situation. That explains some of the unfortunate experiences I've had with them.

I love reading about bad jobs - and this was very entertaining. I used to want to be a convenience store clerk so badly, I have no idea why. But for the reasons you described above, my dad just laughed at me when I asked about it.
I might post something about bad jobs I've had next but of course you'll get full credit for the idea since it's been a long time since I've had anything resembling an original thought.

Kate said...

Random comments for you:

* The Sylvester family is from my hometown. (They're like the Ewings, except in East Bethel, not Dallas.) I think the whole Sylvester's concept started at the Sylvester's-discount-warehouse-whatever-deal that was conveniently located on a dirt road. We do things all klassy-like in Anoka County.

* Please tell me that the bowling alley was the one attached to Mary's Place... because I think Tammie still worked there in 2002.

wafelenbak said...

As my hours at work dwindle lower and lower and the economy continues its steady circle down the drain, I am quite convinced this blog entry is going to be the stuff of my nightmares tonight. :(

CDP said...

That was hilarious. My first job was at age 15 at a soft-serve ice cream place called (seriously) "Dairyland".

WendyB said...

I think I'm well-suited to lottery winner, too.

Sornie said...

You've had more jobs than I've had socks and I've had alot of socks.

And with the old guys flirting with you, you should have played along to see if they would buy you something, just not an hour at a roadside motel.

Anonymous said...

My first (and only) job started at 2.20 and hour and ended 35 years later.

I did a friend a favor and subbed for her as a semi topless waitress in a "foam dome" in Williston...yee haw...FLorida for 3hours one night. Whatever was I thinking!!??


Anonymous said...

That would be 2.20 an hour! Not and.

John said...

@ Kim - did you ever see Clerks? ; )

Giggle Pixie said...

When you finally land that 'lottery winner' gig, could you please hire me on as your personal assistant? I'll even wash your...uhhhhh...monkeys for you.

Okay, that just sounds so, so wrong.

T.J. said...

There's just too much good in this post. It's like totally made of 'win.'

You had me at 'dreams are for the pretty kids. Keep your expectations low. Merry Christmas!'

I stopped by the PO today, so keep a wether eye on your hole.....

punchlinewalking said...

Well, you know I've had some shit jobs, but I think you might win. I don't know, but I'm pretty sure I'd make a kickass lottery winner.

Shannon Erin said...

I've always felt bad for hotel maids. I can't imagine having to clean up after a bunch of slobs.

I'm glad you survived the almost attempted robbery!

Student/Teacher said...

Oh man, I've had some stinkers. Waitress at a Pizza Hut, phone girl at an independent pizza place, prep cook, line cook (twice), sous chef, wine lady, and now the worst of them all, Graduate Assistant in Teaching.

How I got from food to academia is a mystery even to me.

Stacey said...

Suckiest job: telemarketing phone services like call waiting and 3 way calling.

And yes I did just date myself because nowadays all that shit comes free.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

First job ever which was the worst job ever-cleaning crew at a nursing home with a pedophile for a boss. I have blocked out the exact memories of the smell of that place and time the creepy, freaky, boss tried to lock me in the broom closet with him. I bailed it outa there mighty quick, thank god and never returned.

And any post with a reference to "camel-toe" makes me giggle.

surviving myself said...

I knew you liked my camel toe.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Bowling alley waitress, it sounds so exotic. I'll bet you solved crimes on the side for excitement.

punchlinewalking said...

By the way- I think "Pistols and Punchlines" is going to be the name of my first album :).

180|360 said...

It's funny... but I can imagine you in all of those jobs. Then again you are a great story teller.

Aunt Snow said...

These are hilarious!!