I’ve been a nurse for roughly a bazillion years, but it’s all the stuff I did before that, the stuff that isn’t on my resume, that’s really interesting.
My first job, like most girls’ first jobs, was babysitting. I watched a neighbor’s little boy for the summer. He was school age, and we spent all day every day either at my next-door neighbor’s pool or with him watching TV and me reading a book. I made him a BLT and french fries every day for lunch (really, I did) and let him drink as much Coke as he wanted. And no, I never put any sunscreen on the little brat, either.
I worked a little at my mom’s office, doing filing, and a little at my dad’s office doing about the same thing. But working at Dad’s office was super-cool because it was on campus, and there’s nothing a fifteen-year-old girl enjoys more than running errands on a college campus, pretending to be a college student. It rocked.
I worked at Burger King, where I wore an ugly polyester uniform and dumped a gallon of French dressing all over the cute manager I would marry many years later. I worked at Western Sizzlin’ as a salad bar girl, obviously not having learned my limitations after the French dressing incident. I learned the proper way to cut up cantaloupe and watermelon, a skill that has served me well my entire life. I went home smelling like steak, which made me envy my friend working across the street at Baskin Robbins.
Then I went off to college. I worked as a lab tech in a biology lab. Sounds cool, like I washed test tubes and chatted about important scientific discoveries a couple of hours a day, right? Not so much. I was responsible for cleaning the mouse cages and then disposing of the bodies after “sacrifice day”. I’d come in to find bags of frozen mouse carcasses in the freezer and have to load them all up and haul them down to the basement, where I’d throw them into a metal drum with other dead animals. I hope the techs working with the big animals got paid better than I did. And as for the sparkling scientific discussions? Most of the time they were talking about who got the drunkest the night before. Oh, except for the one guy who spoke only French and seemed angry all the time.
In the summer I worked for a pediatric neurology clinic, which was fascinating. I passed out during a spinal tap (have you seen how long those needles are?), memorized all the idiosyncrasies of the half-dozen doctors so they’d scream at me less often (excellent training for future jobs), and learned to cross-stitch (we got an hour for lunch every day).
Then I worked at a cashier at Winn Dixie. Another fabulous polyester uniform – WOO HOO! This was before “Paper or Plastic?” was a question, and certainly no one was using their own bags or doing U-scan. I learned to bag groceries properly, and I feel secure in the knowledge that I can out-bag anyone working at my local Kroger. People didn’t have debit cards, they wrote checks. And you couldn’t write a check unless you had a Winn Dixie check card. Which led to a memorable incident when a middle-aged woman wearing inch-thick makeup, stilleto heels, and a feather-trimmed blouse tried to pay with a check and didn’t have a card. I sent her to the customer service desk (like I’d been taught) and the store manager came running back over, pale and sweaty, stuffed the check into my hand, and whispered, “APPROVED!”. I glanced down at the name on the check as I was sliding it through the machine: Preston Madden. I’d just refused to take a check from Anita Madden, kind of the Paris Hilton of Lexington, Kentucky at that point in time. That could explain why I was never invited to her Derby parties, huh?
What were your jobs growing up?