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?

10 thoughts on “Work

  1. Whew – your list makes me SO tired, I can’t even begin to think about work.

    NO WONDER you are tired! You deserve to be after all those work experiences. I’m proud of you and how far you have come.


  2. Oh, mercy…like you, I babysat. When my mom went to work nites I had the responsibility of taking care of my much-younger brother…our dad bowled several nites a week. Plus the responsibility of keeping house, cooking…I was a ‘housewife’ way before my time. Kept me busy thru high school. After graduating, no college. But I worked in Medical Records in 2 different hospitals for several years. Did sporadic childcare while my two grew up. A secretary twice. Data entry. A companion for an elderly woman, middle school lunch lady for several years, and now day care provider for my grandsons until they reach school age. Mixed in among all that — tons of volunteer work. Not quite the smorgasbord you’ve had, but I call myself a Jill-of-all-trades.


  3. My job list would look like yours, in that it was a little bit of everything. One of my first jobs that I loved was working at Dairy Queen in high school. I worked with one of my best friends and we could have all the ice cream we wanted. I wish I could find a job like that now.


  4. Since we’re all posting our resumes (LOL) I’ll add mine. My first job was at a place called “The Cheese Shop.” I prepared sandwiches and worked behind the counter at the deli. My dad got me the job…he worked a couple of doors down and used to go there for lunch. Then I was a fry cook at a pub/bar. I was underage, but that didn’t seem to matter. Then I worked at a pizza place. Then I went to college. Then I flunked out of college because I made stupid decisions. Then I worked as a banquet waitress. Then at a flower shop. Then at a party supply store called Whirlygig. That was fun. Then another flower shop. Then the pizza place again but this time doing admin at the corporate office. Then another flower shop. Then I got married and we managed an apartment complex, which was mostly my job since my husband had another job during the day. Then I had kids and didn’t work. Then I did work again, at an auto auction doing data entry and office-y stuff. Then…hmmmm. Thinking. There were a lot of years when we were overseas and I didn’t work but finally I started cleaning houses. I recently did retail during Christmas, and all along I’ve done the cleaning and book keeping for the churches we’ve pastored. Pretty exhaustive list. Funny thing is, as I’m applying now for a “real job,” since my kids have grown and flown and suddenly I have plenty of time on my hands, I’m finding myself sadly under qualified for pretty much everything. No regrets at all…just finding it a challenge to find what “fits.” Actually, I’m not under qualified. It just looks like it on paper.


  5. Do you remember that I filled in for you at the health food store? I think it was when you went to Guam on a missions trip. I rode my bike there from North Marysville. I remember not really liking the owner. A few years back I went to visit my sister-in-law Renay at her job at an upscale gift shop on 3rd and realized it was the same place that used to house the health food store. I remember eating carob covered peanuts that weren’t too bad.


  6. I worked at Taco Bell for two months. I hated it. People are rude and I am not the best person when someone gets nasty with me. If I ever work in food again then I will own my own restaurant. It is something I have seriously considered when my little ones get older. I worked for a factory that made brakes for Ford. Hard work but I liked it. I worked cleaning houses for a bit. I liked that some. I love cleaning my home but some people are NASTY. I worked for WalMart. I loved that job. I was a cashier and it was great to chat with people. I owned my own daycare for awhile too. I like children and that filled the need while I was trying to keep a baby growing in my tummy. Once we got pregnant and had our daughter Abigail then I closed up shop and became a full time stay at home mom. I think that is probably the hardest job though. It has taught me more than all the other jobs – how to be humble and ask forgiveness. And the best part is you can’t get fired. My children love me to death and I doubt that will change. I love my job. Hubby loves that I am good at it too!

    Ouida Gabriel


  7. I used to babysit for a family that counted out nickels and dimes too! They paid 45 cents an hour when the going rate was 50, but I was too shy to say anything. I watched three busy girls, cooked dinner and cleaned the kitchen and picked up the house after they went to bed. The wife would count out her exact change, and then the dad would drive me home and slip me another $5. I loved the dad. I babysat for them for years, and wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been for him.


  8. My current job is ‘mummy’ and that’s gotta be my best and worst job. It all depends on how much sleep I have. Since my mum and my husband have been looking after Sophia all day, I’m loving it!
    No seriously, i love being a mummy – you never know what will happen next!


  9. I always babysat for free! You mean I could have been getting nickels and dimes? Wow!

    At 16 I got my first real job as a waitress, one day I showed up for work, the restaurant was locked up tight, the bosses gone, and my weeks pay.

    At 17 I worked for a nursing uniform store, not very exciting.

    18 brought me to a locally owned fast food place that was right by the courthouse, so we pretty much catered to law enforcement, attorneys, judges, and college students, there was a Junior college right next door. All that rubbed off on me because I started going to that college and got my paralegal degree, but never used it….

    Then I moved on a cashier at a convience store. A Ross Dress for Less store, then A grocery store.

    Now after many years of being a stay at home mom, filling in the gaps sometimes selling Avon, I work from home doing tech support for a cable company. I think this one is my favorite job, I work with some really cool folks, work in my jammies, and get paid for sitting in my bed room fixing peoples computers, and cable.


  10. I love reading lists like these. My first “real” job was cashier at a buffet restaurant. I had to wear a one-size-fits-all jumper with a handkerchief tied on my head, and pantyhose with white tennis shoes. I asked for a raise and they bumped me five cents an hour. Those three months seemed like forever.


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