Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Working History

Playing "Catch Up" ball here today with my blog reading that sort of got somewhat behind over the past weekend, I came across a post by blogger buddy, Patois, for her Sunday Scribblings - which this week was titled "The Book of Job." However, the pronunciation for her blog was not the Biblical "Job" but rather the job, as in work she's done over the years.

That got me to thinking of all the many and varied jobs I've held and wondering too, could I remember all of them to list them in chronological order here? I'm not sure if I can or not but here goes. I'm sure as heck gonna try!

My very first "job" was when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old -and was more of an assignment from school as opposed to being one for actual pay. The work - selling packets of seeds to friends and neighbors in a competition at school. I don't remember now what the payoff was - I think one year it might have been a set of some kind of little plaques of a religious nature - something that sure as heck wouldn't fly in today's school systems anyway. You can bet your bottom dollar on that one!

But that "work" led me into finding the field of direct sales at an early age as from there I progressed to selling Cloverine Brand Salve, cards and stationery products along with home-made woven pot holders! I was quite the little entrepreneur. (The past five years since son-in-law and his older daughter moved in here, I've seen her bring home projects from school or from church in which she too was to "sell" things - benefit type projects ya know - and her order sheets would just lay on the island in the kitchen or on the counter, taking up space or at times, getting lost and then, she couldn't understand why she rarely ever was eligible to win any of the prizes for participating in those events. Man, I'd have been out trotting up and down through town, peddling like crazy if I'd been involved in them when I was her age. Differences between then and now I guess.

In high school, I moved into another field of work - one that totally shocked my mother too, I must say. House cleaning! To this day I can't believe I actually did that for people and got paid too -in hard, cold cash no less! And, what was really the surprise to my Mom - that I got no complaints on the quality of my work - unlike her opinion of my abilities in that area on the home front!

My senior year in high school, being the cocky snot-nosed kid I was, I decided I wanted more than anything else to be the organist/choir director at our church. Ok, the organist we had at the time was pretty bad but God love him, he was dedicated and yes, he did try -very hard. He'd had all of six weeks instruction on the piano and my goodness, why I'd had 18 months of piano lessons so I had to be better than him. Well, once in a while I was but truth be told, I am a lousy pianist/organist because I get too flustered when people start to sing while I am trying to play the song! And, isn't that a main part of being the pianist or organist who is playing for people to be able to follow and sing along? The church no doubt was really relieved when I was out voted as organist by a younger, much better young lady from the congregation!

My first job after graduation was a three-day stint as a waitress in a soda fountain/lunch counter at a drug store in town - about 12 miles from where I live. I had no driver's license then -because my Mom wouldn't sign for me to get my permit so I had to wait till I was 18 and could get it on my own - so Mom had to drive me to work then come back 6 or 8 hours later and pick me up. After three days of this, she announced it just wasn't going to fly and I had to quit! But my first day on the job - that night, I had nightmares about people sitting up at the counter and ordering "large cherry cokes."

My next job was one that was really offensive. I was hired to be a packer in the cigar factory -also in the same town as where the soda fountain job had been. However, several people along the street where I lived worked in town -even at the same factory - so I car pooled with them and that made my Mom very happy. I was paid the huge wage of $1.00 an hour to start and after my training period ended and I was "making production" I got a big raise up to $1.25 an hour! Wow! Big bucks, ya know. I was on my way to wealth and fame, for sure!

Through a few twists and turns, I left that wonderful position and took a rinky-dink class out in St. Louis, Missouri in the fall of 1963 learning to be a "tab operator" -a position that was by computer standards of that day, already out-dated. When the class ended, I got a job working in for a small electronics company in St. Louis as a billing clerk.

But I really didn't want to be THAT far from home and while employed at the electronics company, through a clerk at the Missouri State Employment Center in St. Louis, I was steered towards applying for a job that would really bring me both good pay, as well as a position of high esteem too - a job with the FBI at headquarters in Washington, D.C. Yes indeedy folks! I was on my way to become a crack crime fighter and work for the wonderful J.Edgar Hoover to boot!

What a rude awakening that job was! I've been pretty much blind as a bat in my right eye since I was about 12 years old and trying to search fingerprint files, after classifying each card I was assigned to search daily - well, it was not a good mix, let me say that! And, trust me when I tell you that working back then at age 19 for J. Edgar Hoover was sure as Hell no treat either! Translated - I absolutely hated that job; hated that place!

After about six months of enduring that position, I found a job as a clerk typist in the department known as the "Club Section" for the National Rifle Association. That job led me into a position in the data entry dept. with the NRA, from there I also worked in the Programming area for about a year and then, transferred to another division within the NRA to be the junior secretary to the Director of Administrative Services and "manager" of Coupon Awards with the NRA. The NRA, while not being notorious for being a really good paying outfit turned out to be the best job I ever had though! I loved the place! I loved the people I worked with there and I really did enjoy the different types of work I got to do while working there. I even was sent to Phoenix, Arizona back in 1970 not once, but twice to work out there first for the 10th International Shooting Championships and also for the 40th World Shooting Championships.

What was really funny about my feeling like I "fit" at the NRA is that when I was hired there, I was a brazen liberal, feminist, pro-union, democrat and there I was working for a very conservative, rather male chauvinistic oriented, anti-union, very Republican organization. I was a staunch supporter of President Kennedy and when I was hired strongly believed in gun control and when I left there after eight years, I was still a liberal, somewhat feminist, pro-union, democrat but I also no longer believed gun control was the answer to our issues with crime. Although I don't personally believe people need to collect guns like uzi's and such and I don't personally see any problem with gun registration - after all we register our cars don't we? - but I don't think placing tons of restrictions on the people as a whole will resolve the criminal element issues. Just my thang there folks! Please, if you are an NRA member, don't deluge me with hate mail now!

During my time working at the NRA, I often also worked several part-time jobs too - as a cashier in a chain shoe store, as a sales clerk in a woman's clothing store and as a data entry operator too for a company that took in overload work from data entry departments around the city. I had to work two jobs to make end meet because along the way during my eight years in the D.C. area, I'd also become a single mother and my Mom had moved down to live with me and take care of my daughter so I could continue to work there! It was hard at times but I do believe to this day, it all worked to make me stronger and a better worker and person along the way.

Then, I got married! My husband and I decided though if we wanted to have a home, a family of our own, we had to leave the D.C. area so we thought about moving either back to my home in Pennsylvania, his hometown in Illinois or to Phoenix, Arizona - cause I loved it out there! Well, the move to Pennsylvania is the route we took in August of 1972 and I've been back here -in my home area - ever since then!

Since moving back to PA, I've been a sales rep for some brand of women's clothing as a home party demonstrator (can't remember the name of that company now though), a Tupperware lady and an Avon Lady too! I peddled Avon products for 18 years and was a darned good little rep for them -for the last 16 years I sold Avon I was consistently in the Top Ten best sellers in the district where my route was located and I had a lot of fun doing that too.

I worked for about 18 months in the mid-70's for Penn State University in the Alumni Services Department but quit because my soon-to-be ex-husband thought my working fulltime was driving us apart and driving him to drink. He kind of had the causitive factors a bit mixed up there but I fell for his line of logic at the time and turned in my resignation at the University. In retrospect, it was not the smartest move I've ever made but what the heck you gonna do about it thirty years later, ya know.

When we split up - finally - in 1979, I began my illustrious career in food service - working as a waitress first at the truckstop about five miles from my house, then at a truckstop about 14 miles north of here along Interstate 80 and I stayed at that job for 7 years. Waitressing is really hard physical work and also very taxing mentally too because so much of what one has to do, you can't have it all written down - you have to remember all kinds of things! I bitched constantly about the waitress job but deep down, for the most part, I actually loved it! Mostly though I loved waiting on the truck drivers and joking with them, getting to know so many of them, playing practical jokes on them and having them do that to me and my co-workers a lot of the time too. Every job, good, bad or indifferent really is what you make of it too yourself and I found I could have a lot of fun while waitressing and still working darned hard at the same time.

Then I got fired from that job and a day later, was hired to do data entry for a company in State College, PA. That company just happens to be the World's Largest Private Weather Forecasting firm and it too, could be a lot like waitressing when you worked there because it was very fast paced, very stressful too, oodles and oodles of deadlines to deal with daily. Pay wise, it wasn't the best but it gave me enough combined with my Avon sales and child support that I was still able to keep a roof our heads as I had three kids I was raising then too ya see.

From that data entry job, I got hired as a shift manager or assistant restaurant manager at yet another truck stop. While working there, I decided that I didn't want to stay in Food Service the rest of my working days and I'd finally figured out too how to finance going to college so in 1990, I enrolled at good old Penn State University on my way - I thought then - to getting a degree in Labor and Industrial Relations. A year into my studies - while working full time as the asst. restaurant manager, my boss confronted me and told me I had to make a choice - either school or the job but I couldn't do both so I resigned. I went back to work at the Weather Forecasting company on a part-time basis and worked there for the duration of my time in college as well as for five years after I graduated!

Upon graduation from Penn State, I went job hunting - trying to find an entry level position in the field in which I got my degree - Rehabilitation Education Services! I was hired 3 months after graduation to be a rehab counselor and teacher for Baltimore Goodwill Industries where my job required I train rehab clients to be janitors - a post that probably still has my Mom rolling in her grave because - well, because housekeeping has never really been my forte! But while working there, I still kept my part-time position with the weather company and put in 40 hours a week, Monday thru Friday in Baltimore and came back home every weekend to work anywhere from 15 to 22 hours on Saturday and Sunday here - and also to do my weekly laundry while I was home. I couldn't afford not to do that because I had dual housing expenses you see - a house in PA that my girls were living in and they took care of all the house expenses except for the telephone bill which was my responsibility - and sharing an apartment in a suburb of Baltimore required more than my meager paycheck from Goodwill covered. That lasted a year until I just couldn't take it any more and I quit the job in Baltimore and moved back home. I thought with my year of experience in my field I could surely get a job in this area but after five years of struggling with part-time jobs, piecemeal work to just barely survive, I ended up taking a job at the truckstop -again - as assistant restaurant manager! And, I hated it!

I lasted there for 2 1/2 years before I finally got totally disgusted with the management and took a position at the truckstop about five miles from my house where I worked for about 5 months and then they decided to fire me too. I guess my food management skills weren't my forte either.

After that, I did a paid internship in Harrisburg for four months for the State Union Headquarters for State Employees - AFSCME - and really liked working there. To supplement my pay from that job I also worked part-time as a sales clerk at a large department store in Camp HIll for four months too until I thought I'd found the dream job - I was hired to be a newspaper staff writer for the local daily newspaper here about 20 miles from my home town. That job lasted 7 weeks and they fired me primarily because I was untrained in journalism - just liked to write you see (and they knew that too when they hired me, I must add) but I didn't know the difference between writing in active or passive voice and five years later, I still don't really understand that.

Three months after that job ended, I was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer - had chemo, radiation, surgery, more chemo and in the process of all that, had problems occur with my back that created issues that have subsequently required me to go on Social Security Disability -which is where I've been now for the past four years!

And that, my friends, pretty much shows you what one person can and will do to survive for roughly 40 years!

The work sure never gave me great wealth - far from it with respect to finances but it has given me a wealth of other things - friends, great experiences, fun, learning lots of new and different things along the way. I wish at times it had been different but then if it had, I probably wouldn't see things in the same wacky way I do today so in that respect, I guess I really don't have ALL THAT MANY regrets today!


Stine said...

You really have been busy!
Thanks for sharing!
Should you be able to come over, I hereby invite you for some lutefisk... Just make sure you get here in the months before Christmas. October, November, December is the time for really good stuff...

Meloncutter said...

Methinks y'all have been busy. Sounds like my work history. I have driven truck, worked in the oil fields, been a mechanic, worked on a survey crew, been a professional musician (and trying to get back into that one) a career police officer, a produce guy and I wanted to be a porn star but I came up a little short on the requirements for that job.

Good post.

Later y'all.

Theresa said...

Hi Jeni,
I didn't have time to read your blog yet-I will come by later after work- but If you have time today could you visit

this is my sister-in-laws blog, and she just posted about her son having austism for the first time-which was a big step for her and I am very proud of her and I want others to be too. Maybe just an I am in your corner thought would be nice--Thanks ( I thought of you because of Maya and because you are always promoting blogs)- I'll be back.

Minnesotablue said...

Jeni: No regrets at all! You lead a full and wonderful life Read my blog comments

masgblog said...

They say that we change careers about 5 times in our lifetime.....you sure have had a lot of lifetimes! Cheers!

Patois said...

Wow, you're one hell of a hard worker. No wonder you're able to produce so many blog posts! Thanks for the nod my way. I appreciate it.

Hootin'Anni said...

YOU HAVE A TREAT AT MY BLOG!!! Drop by, scroll down and pick it up if you'd like. [on my Wordless Wednesday post]

Theresa said...

What an interesting resume- the packing cigars sticks out in my mind for some reason.

The jobs of the youth are usually the most interesting ones, since we are so eager for money then-cleaning houses, quite admirable- laughed at your comment that your mother was surpised you didn't get complaints.

**side note my sister-in-law has two blogs one is her craft one and one is her "family" one - that address is