The Crazy Boss Thing Started Early

Niece is currently napping, so I think it's a prime opportunity to post something. On a side note, has anyone ever researched the sedative properties of breast milk? Because this kid only nurses at nap time and bed time anymore, but it only takes about four minutes before she is in a FULL-ON MILK COMA. Sister-In-Law tells me it's just the combination of filling her tummy, comfort, and making her STOP MOVING long enough to fall asleep. And while that sounds reasonable and logical, I have further suspicions...

Anyway, moving on. A'Dell posted today about her first job and asked for other people's stories. And while I'm sure you are all SICK by now of hearing about my last two awful bosses and the crazy situations they put me in, I've never told you about my early years as a Productive Member of the Workforce.

Technically, my first job was babysitting. I started when I was twelve or thirteen, I think. Mostly a few hours an afternoon every once in a while during the summer--nothing that required more skill than watchful eyes and the ability to open PlayDoh containers. It was around that time that I started helping out in the nursery at church, so I feel like I've been taking care of babies and kids practically my whole life. I think this only fed my baby-fever from an early age.

When I was fourteen, my brother (who was sixteen at the time) worked for an ice cream shop--one that specializes in mixing the ice cream with various treats on a stone slab right in front of you. I'm sure you can guess which one, but I'm not going to say the name and you'll understand why in a moment. I would often accompany my mom when she dropped off or picked up my brother from work (he had his license, but limited access to the car) and the owner seemed to like me a lot. So one day, she offered me a job. I worked there from September 2001 until February 2002.

Now, fourteen is a VERY young age to start working at a real job that required a W2 and all that. In fact, it was the youngest you could work in my state and I was only allowed to work for three hours at a time, only nine hours a week, and I could not be scheduled after 9:00 pm. But I had a REAL JOB. And for a little while, I loved it! We got free ice cream every shift and I felt grown up and responsible and I had MONEY that was my VERY OWN and all of that.

And then. I began to realize that the owners were kind of off their rockers. They played mind games. They played favorites. They change their minds and changed favorites. They unexpectedly cut or added hours. They might have even stolen tips... They were just slightly unhinged. When my brother and I needed time off for a family vacation at Christmas, they messed around with our hours and threatened not to let us have the time off, which was stupid because my parents had already purchased plane tickets so the most they were going to accomplish was to force us to quit, not give up our vacation. Then, at the "Business Christmas Party," which happened to be the night before we were flying out, the owner wished us well and hoped the plane would crash.

No, that was not a typo. I didn't mean she hoped the plane wouldn't crash. And remember, this was December 2001. Three months after the biggest terrorist attack this country has ever seen that utilized AIRPLANES as its weapons. And she HOPES THE PLANE CARRYING TWO YOUNG TEENS AND THEIR FAMILY (and about 100 other people unconnected to her) WOULD CRASH. And then she laughed and laughed as if this was not the most terrifying thing our young minds could think of at the time. Needless to say, we both quit soon after.

My next job was working for some family friends who were photographers. The husband did scenic/landscape photography and his wife took pictures of dogs. For calendars. And coffee mugs. What? It's a LEGITIMATE BUSINESS. I swear. She made a profit and everything. They ran their businesses out of their home and, as sad as I am to perpetuate this stereotype about Far North, their home was a log cabin. Which meant it was drafty. And the office was in the basement. Most of us called it the Dungeon. And we would often wear two or three layers with gloves. In the summertime...

Anyway, the wife was a student teacher in Sister's 4th (?) grade class before she married the photographer and that's how we got to know them. Eventually, all of us kids worked for them at one time or another, doing basic office work, like filing the photographs and keeping up the database. But I was the only one who go to do the BEST part of the job. You see, the wife had JUST gotten into the dog photography when I was hired (she gave up teaching to spend time with her husband, who had to travel a lot for his artwork). She built a studio above their garage and had all of this miniature furniture and set dressings and costumes.

And my job in all of this? To stand behind her camera and jump up and down while making ridiculous noises to get the dogs to look at me. But not TOO much noise, because we didn't want the dog to leave the set and chase me. JUST ENOUGH to look up and let her get a good shot. This is a skill I do NOT list on my resume. As you can imagine, this did not turn out to be my life's passion or fulfilling work, so I moved on to other things, although I did go back and work for them in the summers during college, for some extra cash.

Then, for most of my sophomore and junior years of high school, I did occupational and behavioral therapy for a high-functioning autistic boy in my church. This was one of the most rewarding and most exhausting jobs I have ever had and I have an enormous amount of respect for both the parents of those on the spectrum and for those who live their lives on the spectrum. The little boy was almost four when I started working with him, about 12 hours a week, and he was one of the cutest and sweetest kids I have ever known. I worked with 3-5 therapists, his parents, and his doctor and I learned an incredible amount about parenting, autism, and life in general. My senior year was going to be hectic, due to my over-achieving ways, so I quit at the end of the summer. In some ways, it was a relief, since the mom could be difficult and I spent a lot of time babysitting the siblings while also trying to do therapy (not helpful for anyone). But in other ways, I missed it a great deal.

All the other jobs I took during college and after are too intertwined with the secrets I'm keeping from you and from Google (mostly from Google), so I can't talk much about them. But I will tell you that, despite the fact that these experiences shaped who I am and I wouldn't trade them for a second, none of these jobs have anything to do with what I do now. Or what I used to do. Six months ago. Before I quit doing it. Temporarily. I think...

But if you were to ask me what my dream job is, it would probably include more of those jobs and the skills they taught me than my current occupation: a stay-at-home-mom who eats ice cream with her kids and takes photos of her dog and also her kids and maybe even does volunteer work for spectrum disorders. That would be a pretty sweet life!

What about you? What were your first jobs like? Did they start you on the path you're on now or just fill your pocket for the summer?


  1. Mine just filled my pockets. I was 12 years old and washed dishes at a bar. They paid me in cash since it was illegal for me to work there. We lived in the country and it was a half mile from my house. I worked from 6 to midnight 3 to 4 days a week.

    I loved it. If I got caught up, I got to lay pinball or pool with the locals. Once a few dishes hit the sink, I did them and went back to playtime. It was great.

  2. I did some babysitting, but my first "real" job was working at the concession stand at the Adler Pool in Libertyville. I had to wear shorts. As part of a uniform. It was the worst part--worse than mixing up the giant tub of gelatinous cheeze goop. I also got to look at a lot of pretty, rich lifeguards, which as a shallow 17yr old, was pretty nice.

  3. That actually sounds kind of awesome! But your parents didn't care at all that their twelve-year-old was out until midnight? I think mine would have said no on principle...

  4. Mmmmm, cute lifeguards. What seventeen-year-old WOULDN'T want to stare at that all day? Unfortunately for me, Far North did not have an abundance of swimming pools...

  5. It was only in the summer time and was a very small town. They didn't let me once school started.

  6. That makes more sense. And really? People made me responsible for the keeping alive of their offspring when I was twelve. So as far as responsibility goes, I guess it's really not a stretch to allow you out that late.

  7. I awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award because I think your blog is great. :) Check out the award here: http://www.cookaholicwife.com/2012/04/versatile-blogger-award.html