Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Time spent in the Pit of Dispair

Novelist Christy Raedeke has a hilarious post today at her blog about her days working at Victoria's Secret.

I love hearing about the random jobs people have before they land their dream job (novelist!) or at least a normal, decent-paying job (not a novelist).

Being 25-going-on-26, my job experience, weird or otherwise, is limited. (I'll refrain from saying anything about my current job except that I like it.)

The most random job I've ever had was as a newspaper delivery girl. I worked for a regional non-profit children's newspaper, and it was my job to cart a gazillion newspaper bundles around town in Sylvia, my old Honda CR-V, and deliver them to area schools. It took the better part of the day every other Friday. It was boring, but now I'm like a human GPS in our town.

My worst delivery was the school where the office was on the second floor, and there was no elevator. The hand truck I used for the bigger deliveries was just too cumbersome, so every other week I carried a stack of 400 newspapers across the front yard of the school, through the doors, up the big stairs and to the office. The best part was that the office workers would ignore me (maybe I was hard to see behind the giant stack I was carrying) until I pointedly asked where they wanted them, my arms about to give out.

One summer when I was still in high school , I worked as a bus girl in a local cafe. Our chef had studied abroad and was about the least approachable person ever--but man, she made awesome food. My job was boring, although people-watching was fun. One middle-aged lady came for lunch at least three times every week (and this place was not cheap). She had dyed-red hair and always sat at the exact same table, always by herself. She'd flirt with my manager, a big guy with a pony tail, and he was sweet to her. I imagined they were star-crossed lovers, and this was the only time they could see each other.

One of the owners of the cafe had a lovely habit of telling us peons to do what we were already doing. I'd be on my way to clean a recently-vacated table, dishcloth and tray in hand, when he would stop me to tell me that the table needed bussing. Or I'd be rolling silverware, and he'd stop by to tell me that all the silverware needed rolling. Good to know, because of course I'd been planning on only rolling three-fourths of it and leaving the rest...

My favorite job ever was working at the student newspaper when I was in college. We spent a lot of late nights--a LOT of late nights--but it was worth it. The hands-on experience I learned there taught me more about journalism than all of my classes combined. Oh yeah, and gave me the idea for my novel.

For two summers during college, I worked at a government agency I nicknamed the Pit of Dispair. The first summer, I interned with the Pit's lawyers; the second I split my time between the lawyers and the public relations people. It's hard to say which group hated their jobs more. Probably the public relations people, since they also hated each other. I've never met more unhappy people concentrated in one spot in my entire life.

I think all the engineers who worked at the Pit had high job satisfaction, but the lawyers and PR crowd mostly just complained like a bunch of 3-year-olds who missed their naps.

The most exciting things that happened at the Pit were the quarterly bomb drills. It was right after 9/11 and, being a government agency, we were on high alert. Unfortunately this did not mean my job was more exciting. One summer, for nearly a week, I spent every day reading the sixth Harry Potter book under my desk.

The Pit of Dispair did teach me one thing: the value of appropriate perfume usage. One of the HR ladies wore this vile peach perfume that smelled sort of like a Teen Spirit deoderant I wore when I was 13. You could walk down an empty hallway and know she'd been there. We had a conference in a small room once with her and the lawyers, and I almost passed out.

Other than a two-year stint as managing editor of a regional lifestyle magazine right after college, that's my job history. Such as it is. Now I'm curious: what kind of weird jobs have you had?


Christy Raedeke said...

Lordy - I just popped over to see what's going on and saw my name in your blog! Well, thanks!

How on earth did you ever carry that many newspapers? You look far too petite for that kind of work...

Cheers, Christy

AC said...

I should probably clarify that these newspapers were for children, so they were tabloid-sized and only had usually about eight pages each. Which doesn't make me sound as tough-girl, but it was still heavy, I promise!