I’ve always worked. From the time I was young, I knew that, if I wanted to feed my G.I. Joe addiction, I needed a way to make money.
So I got a job.
I was the only kid in first grade earning a steady paycheck.
In the years since, I’ve had a dozen or so jobs at 10 different companies. The question has been asked, so this post is my answer: these are all of the jobs I’ve ever held.
- Paper route. Starting at age 6, I split a paper route with my brother. Initially, I made about $6 per month, which was enough for 1 G.I. Joe.
- Farm hand. I spent a couple of summers in junior high and high school doing odd farm jobs outside of my home town.
- Dishwasher. Starting in 9th grade, I gave up a study hall to work in the school cafeteria, serving food and washing dishes. It paid minimum wage for 1 hour per school day.
- Construction. For a couple of summers, I worked for my dad’s construction company. He was easily the hardest boss I’ve ever had, which was great preparation for the rest of my working life. The drunk bar owner who didn’t allow his employees a lunch break and got upset if they sat down on a smoke break was nothing by comparison. Thanks, Dad. Every employer since has been astonished by my work ethic, even when I’m having an off day.
- Dishwasher, take 2. Sixteen years old, thumped by the wisdom of “If you want a car, get a job to pay for it.” So I did. It paid a bit over minimum wage and gave me my first “Who the heck is FICA and why is he robbing me?” moment. I eventually got promoted to cook, which came with better pay, worse hours, and more opportunities to flirt with waitresses. It was grand.
- Palletizer. This is a fancy way of saying I stood at the end of a conveyor belt, picked up the 50 pound bags of powder as they came down the line, and stacked them neatly on a pallet. Rinse and repeat. 1500 times per night. By the time I left this job, I had arms that would make Popeye cry.
- Cook, take 2. I held this job at the same time as the palletizer position. I’d work 8 hours stacking pallets, then head to job #2, 5 miles away. My car was broken at the time, so I rode my bike. In the winter. In Minnesota. I was working 14-16 hour days, lifting a total of 75,000 pounds, biking 10 miles per day. I was in great shape and tough. I wasn’t tough enough, though. I could only maintain this schedule for a couple of months.
- Machine operator. During my stint with this company, I’d put a little piece of metal into a great big machine, push a button, then spend 15-20 minutes listening to the great big machine carve the little piece of metal into something worth selling. This was about when I started shopping for books based primarily on thickness. One night, I read The Stand in my spare time. I’d also pass the night by burning scrap magnesium flakes in the parking lot. What can I say? Twelve hour graveyard shifts with 3 hours of actual work are boring. I left a few months after my son was born, because I was missing too much of my family time. I took a 30% pay-cut, before overtime, to be with my wife and kid.
- Debt collector. I worked my way through college by collecting on defaulted student loans. I firmly believe that we should all live up to our obligations and responsibilities, including paying your bills, so I didn’t have a moral dilemma with the work. There are some bad apples, but I don’t see collectors as pariahs.
- Systems Administrator. After I graduated college, I got promoted and spent the rest of my time there managing the collection and auto-dialer software and the hodge-podge of other applications we needed, some of which, I wrote.
- Software engineer. This is where I am now. I’ve written a medium-scale ecommerce application that handles the online sales for quite a few companies, mostly in the B2B arena. The job also includes a large chunk of training, management, and even sales. I don’t particularly enjoy sales, but a programmer geek who can manage other programmers, coordinate with sales & marketing, and talk to customers during a sales demo is a rare bird.
To recap: I’m 32 and I’ve had 1 month out of the last 26 years that didn’t come with a paycheck. I’ve worked for 10 different companies and I start the job before this one when I was 20.
How many jobs have you had? What was the most memorable, or the oddest?