All the insane things I have done for a job

Oct 8, 2016 by

dreamjob_crop380w_crop380wWe all dream about a great career and it’s so easy to forget all insane jobs we have had before our dream job become the reality. Off the top of my head, I once e-mailed the assistant director of a commercial I worked on as a production assistant after drinking a bottle of wine and told him I thought he was dreamy. He was very good-looking.

He wrote back telling me that he was married. I didn’t know. That was before I reached a ripe enough age to take notice of a man’s left ring finger. What a cow I was. He wrote that he would keep me in mind for future jobs – he liked my directness.

  • I was a server at a French restaurant in Rittenhouse Square in 2010. One time I was made to hand out champagne at a MAC store on Walnut St. in Philadelphia for a party we were catering. Handing out alcohol to complete strangers was easy and fun, so I enjoyed the experience.Later on, the employees gave me a makeover – in all purple. I normally don’t wear much makeup let alone secondary colors on my face. Looking in the mirror after they had their way with me, I thought I looked like a transvestite but didn’t want to insult their work so I left it on.
  • I walked to the subway carrying a bag of free MAC products. As I waited for the train, I noticed men were staring at me. I began to feel insecure and started to sweat. I finally got on the train and more men stared at me then. I end up looking quite flushed in some situations, despite being pretty outgoing – which is more of a reflex in defense of usually feeling slightly inferior to others.
  • Using the back of my hand to wipe the sweat away, smears of purple stained my hands and fingers. “Violet, you’re turning violet!” The more I tried to stay dry, the purple-er I got. I abandoned my failed attempts and let the sweat bead and tried looking at non-reflective surfaces through the remaining minutes I spent hurtling towards South Philly with staring men that periodically got off and on the train.

I got off at Federal and walked the short distance to my apartment. Up in the bathroom, I scrubbed it all off.

  • The summer of 2013 was spent at a historical hotel where I was a housekeeper. I had to wear khakis and a white polo shirt, a combination of clothing I have always abhorred due to its palette which seemed to suggest “Hi, I am boring. good-bye!”

People always asked if I ever found anything bizarre in the rooms and I never did. Not finding anything seemed more bizarre since everyone assumed I actually would. I thought I would too. The most memorable room was the one with a hot tub, the honeymoon suite. Nothing much to say about it but the carpet would be littered with bobby pins and rose petals, which were both bitches to pick up after.

The most interesting part of the job was the people that I worked with. It was here that I really learned how job hierarchy functioned. Everyone hated the manager, who was just like us but had a slight position of authority. This infuriated the other workers. I always thought she was really nice, but every now and then I commiserated with the plebes despite my better judgment.

In the mornings, we all had to wait in the basement, gather our cleaning supplies and decide who would work in which parts of the hotel. It was divided into several “homes,” so of course there were certain assignments that everyone wanted to avoid.

One such morning, our main boss came down the stairs with a boy. The first thing I noticed was a tattoo on his forearm. It was of the skull on a Bonnie Prince Billy album. I also recognized it from a class I had taken last semester. He would always raise his hand and from my vantage point in the back of the room, I would stare at it; the skull looking back at me, unblinking, of course.

This was Ben and we got to know each other. He was really hot and eventually we sort of dated once school started back up in the fall.

For more than two years, I worked at a watch repair pagoda in the Montgomery Mall called It’s About Time. We had to answer the phone that way: “It’s about time.”

There was some obvious shame in working at the mall, especially in such close proximity to the Food Court. It wasn’t even in the confines of a proper store with walls; just 100 square feet of open air at the mercy of the public eye.

On the mornings I had to open the “watch box” (that’s what we called it), I blasted our shitty boombox with shitty rap as mall walkers circled us. I pretty much blasted it the whole day, come to think of it.

This lady Mary Anne got hired. She sweated profusely and had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and reminded me of it often. I was trying to sell an expensive watch because we made a commission on them and she interrupted my sale by clutching my arms and wheeling me around to face her and said, “Jenn, I gotta go.” Another time she couldn’t close some links on a watch band and I helped her out. She got all flustered with gratitude and actually kissed me on my neck in that spot where everyone likes to be kissed. It was repulsive, but pleasant.

I really loved that job though. People were always so amazed when we’d restore their watches into working order. There were quite a few blow ups too. People are very protective of their watches, I tell you.

I had made money at all these jobs, which is often what people will boil their jobs down to. They’d be right, but not totally. Jobs are where were spend a third of our day, at least. If you sleep eight hours, it’s half of your waking day. It’s silly to not take into account the bigger picture of your career and how much it shapes who you are in the remaining third you get to spend with your friends, pets, in bookstores and restaurants, or in the shower or car.
So in other words, you should make it count for more than just rent loot.

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