MY FIRST SEVEN JOBS IS A THING GOING AROUND ON TWITTER. Here are mine.
1. Night janitor
3. Riveter on an assembly line that build voting booths
4. Office worker for photography studio
When my sister and I were really little -- like ten and fourteen, we had the job of cleaning our grandfather's real estate office once a week. I was in charge of emptying the garbage cans, dusting and vacuuming. I have no idea what my sister did. All I know is we cranked the sound system really loud in his office and spent an hour cleaning. In the beginning, our Mom went with us, but after we got proficient, she would drop us off and pick us up an hour later. I remember for some reason we always worked on Thursday nights and made sure to be finished and home in time for the Thursday night tv line up.
The summer after ninth grade, I had my first grinding five day a week 8 - 5 job. It was a small local company that built voting booths. I was a riveter. It was the most boring job I've ever worked in my life. I remember standing around at our 10:15 break that first week - thinking, "It is only 10:15? Good grief!" I will say this though - if you want your kid to take school and future planning seriously, have them work an assembly line!
I could add one other job to the list and that would be waitress. However, that might be job eight or nine. I didn't waitress until after college and only did it so that my husband could go back to school. I worked for a long time at a chain restaurant on the weekends, while teaching during the week. For four long years, I worked seven days a week. Still to this day, when Friday rolls around and I realize I don't have to amp myself up for a closing shift, I feel like dancing.
Everyone should wait tables, and everyone should work on an assembly line at least for one season. It makes you appreciate the people around you, and the opportunities you have in front of you. Waiting tables is brutal. One of my worst nights happened when a lady chewed me out for asking if she liked her steak. Apparently, my manager had already stopped by the table when I was in the back of the house, and she didn't not appreciate my inquiry. After she chewed me out, and I turned away from the table, her friend said, "I think you upset her. She looked like she was gonna cry." The last thing I heard before I rounded the corner to the kitchen was the Mean Lady's response, "Well, maybe she should've gone to college then."
There are some pretty mean people out there going to restaurants. I've never understood that -- the desire to show your superiority over someone you've never even met. When that lady chewed me out for something I was required to do, I wanted to explain that to her, and that I HAD in fact gone to college -- that I was in fact a school teacher by day, and a waitress by night. I couldn't though. You can't talk back to your tables, and besides, I'm not sure she would've listened. She had made up her mind about me and who I was long before she ever stepped in to that restaurant.
That's how it is for some people, they look at the world around them, and put everything into neat boxes. They already know what "those kind of people" are like and how they act. It can be easy to fall into that kind of thinking -- based on past experiences, people you already know, and ways you feel about the people around you. That doesn't make it right.
When The Girl was first born, we lived right across from the school where I worked. Our front yard faced the school. I would take her out into the yard in the afternoons, and as kids left campus after their after school clubs and sports, they would wave to her. They would shout hello and yell her name. As a result, she grew up expecting people to know who she was and to like her. She had never had a different experience and so she approached all new people with happiness. She hadn't experienced negativity and thus had no negative expectations; until Kindergarten.
Kindergarten was a rough experience for her. Her school was small, her class even smaller 11 kids. Every girl in her class has older teenage sisters who had mastered the art of manipulation and power plays. She was confused when the girls in her class would pretend they liked ponies too, and then laugh at her when she brought her ponies to school. She hadn't experience the kind of mean girl power plays that can happen at school, and she was unprepared for it. We ended up changing schools and allowing her a kindergarten reboot. She's one of those late summer/early fall birthday kids so she can either be the youngest in her class or the oldest. Now she is the oldest, which is fine by us. She needed the extra year in kindergarten to recover from a year of being blindsided by meanness.
The impact of that first kindergarten year however, was that she approached her new class with a great deal of trepidation. She was slow to talk to the other kids, or her teacher. She waited to see what would happen. She watched the other girls on the playground cautiously -- did they tease? Did they say one thing and then do the opposite?
We are all like that. We take our past around with us and throw out on new people we meet. We carry old schoolyard hurts and no longer race toward life with open arms. We watch and we wait.
I'm learning to shed that -- to look out at the people around me, and listen to what they say and believe it. I'm not going to over analyze and direct your eye movements while you are talking to me. I'm going to hear what you say and believe it. I will deem you trustworthy and honest until you prove otherwise. I guess it is my own kindergarten reboot.
Here's a story that helped me bring things into focus. Back when I was in college, one of my roommates, mom had cancer. Unfortunately, her mother died while we were at school. My roommate was in class, two hours from home, when she got the message that she need to come home immediately. They told her, "Your mother is dying and you need to get her right away." I always think about her and that drive home. She was on the road in traffic for those two hours just trying to get one last chance to talk to her mother. Now, maybe she drove perfectly, but quite possible she was distracted and made some driving mistakes -- maybe she changed lanes without signaling, or maybe she cut someone off -- I don't know, but if she had it would've been perfectly understandable, right? I think of that whenever I am out in the world - if someone cuts me off in traffic, or rushes through a light, instead of calling them a name or thinking they are a jerk -- I wonder if they just heard bad news about a friend, or a spouse, or a child or a job. I hope that everything in their life is great, but maybe it isn't. Thinking this way really helps me chill out about small, stupid stuff, and allows me to see the people around me as actual humans, with actual lives that have nothing to do with me.
If I am at a restaurant and the person serving me does a slow or "bad" job I tip them even more than I normally would because maybe they've already worked a full day somewhere else, or maybe they are trying to earn enough to pay for their kids piano lessons, or maybe they just aren't very good at it -- waiting tables is tough.
Let humans be humans - we all struggle - extend grace.
MY FIRST SEVEN JOBS IS A THING GOING AROUND ON TWITTER. Here are mine.