When I was ten or eleven, I started babysitting. The penny-pinching people I babysat for would count out my pay in nickels and dimes, never, ever rounding up. I made twenty-five cents an hour.
From the time I was eleven until I was eighteen, I worked in the church nursery as the helper. I earned a dollar per church service, which ended up being three dollars a week (Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night). Sometimes we’d have twenty-some babies under the age of two.
When I was twelve, I started picking strawberries. A dollar a flat. We’d wake up early, ride our bikes down the street, then up the hill, then around the bend. We’d get our punch-cards and be assigned a row of strawberry plants and begin picking. We could stay as long as we wanted, but I rarely lasted much past lunch-time.
When I was thirteen, I was chosen to plant strawberries. The strawberry-farm people thought I was fifteen and that’s why I was offered the job. I rode in a pick-up truck to the field near the freeway where I saw on the back of tractor where I plugged baby strawberry plants onto a wheel that automatically stuck the plants into the ground. I made minimum wage, which was $2.65 an hour (I think?)
When I was fifteen, my stepmom helped me get a job at a health food store. The owners left me entirely in charge sometimes, which was a mistake since I told a customer looking for vitamins, “Oh, I don’t know. They don’t tell me anything here!”
When I was sixteen and a half, I was hired by Taco Time. I worked there until I graduated from high school and moved away.
When I was eighteen, I worked as a nanny for a family in Branson. They lived on Table Rock Lake. For the first time in my life, I met a child who hated my guts. That was a long summer.
In college, I had several jobs: babysitting, cleaning the dorm, assembling the salad bar in the cafeteria.
The summers I was nineteen (and twenty), I worked for Heritage USA, the place Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker founded in Charlotte, North Carolina. I worked in the children’s department the first summer and the youth department the second.
When I graduated from college, I worked for a women’s healthclub in the childcare room.
After I married my husband, I worked for a law office. The practice handled real estate law and personal estate planning. The office was a mile from our apartment in New Haven. I walked to work many mornings and wandered the New Haven Green and the Yale campus during lunchtime.
When we moved back to Washington, I worked for a non–profit agency. I managed the (very small) office. I had an amazing boss, but I needed more than thirty hours of work per week, so I got a new job.
I worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Washington in the Customer Service Department.
Then I worked for an office supply store (retail at Christmas, totally fun).
We adopted our kids and I did childcare in my home off and on over the years.
I did some legal transcription. I did some medical transcription.
I sold some articles.
I wrote a blog for a now-defunct website.
Now I work from home from a great company. I feel really lucky to have fallen into my particular career. You just never know where life will lead you.
And I am super grateful that I no longer get paid in nickels and dimes and that I don’t have to scrub giant refried bean pans or clean the bathrooms in a fast food restaurant.
How many jobs have you had? What was your favorite?