Monthly Archives: June 2017

Six-Year-Old Logic

Yesterday I was driving Lucy home from theater camp and we had this conversation in the car:

Driving by a construction site close to our house

Lucy: “Wow, I just want to go climb that giant mountain of dirt:

Me: “I know you do sweetie”

Lucy: “Don’t you?”

Me: “Not in these pants”

Lucy: “You should change when you get home”

Me: “I’m going to, I’m going to take off my good work pants and probably just throw a dress on”

Lucy: “Don’t put on a dress, wear shorts and T-shirt like me. Do you even own shorts?”

Me: “Sure, somewhere but I think when it’s this hot a dress is the coolest thing that you can wear”

Lucy: “But you shouldn’t wear a dress, or a skirt because then someone could see your underwear”

Me: “Aw sweetie, it’s ok. I don’t plan on showing my underwear off, besides we’re going to go home and hang out with our friends”

Lucy: “Yah, but you can’t show your underwear to our friends, the rule is only family, or people that are living with us”

Me: “That’s a rule?”

Lucy: “Yeah, if your friends see your underwear than they’ll know how big they are and then they could buy some for you”

Me: “Okay, let me get this straight. You don’t want me to wear a dress today because Stacy might see my underwear and buy me some?”

Lucy: “Yes, and there is nothing more boring than someone buying you underwear!”

Me: “okay, so I should go home and wear shorts to save Stacy from being bored by buying me underwear?”

Lucy: “Yes!”

For the record I did end up putting on jeans when I got home – I most definitely don’t want to be blamed for anything that might happen if I wore said dress.

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That One Time in Vineland NJ

I was TERRIBLY remiss in my last post about my employment history in that I forgot to highlight the absolute worst job I ever had. Maybe I did this subconsciously because I knew it deserved its own post or maybe I have finally repressed this memory far enough into the back of my addled mind that it no longer springs forward without some prompting (thanks Mom!).

The summer between my first and second freshman years of college I was in a tough spot not having anywhere to go for summer break. I had tried desperately to stay at school over the summer and continue to work at the pizza shop, but it was made clear to me that only foreign students could stay on campus. So, I did the next logical thing, I rented a damp basement bedroom in a house in Vineland NJ. Back in the early 90’s Vineland was a pretty rough town (I haven’t been there in 23 years so I hope it’s improved) but at the time it was not a nice place to be. The room was cheap and right down the road from a very bad decision I was dating named Shawn.

I moved in with exactly enough rent money for one week – I was desperate to find a job as was my landlady’s drug dealing son (Chris) who needed a cover for all of the cash he regularly had laying around. Chris and his hoodlum friends and I decided to carpool to a local temp agency the day after I moved in.

Whether it was because of the company I was with or because I looked like I had little potential but the only job the temp agency offered us was shift work at a local plastics plant. Desperate for anything I immediately agreed and I was told to report there at 11:00pm that very night. That very night? I had only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before. I was already tired and it was only 3:00pm. I went home, got changed, tried unsuccessfully to take a nap and drove with Chris and his friends to the plant for our 8 hour shift.

The first thing that hit me was the smell, walking in to the front door I was overwhelmed by the smell of burning plastic. I was told by the guy who did my new hire paperwork that I’d get used to it – that was not the only lie he told me.

I was given a very brief “safety” lesson and then taken out on the “floor” where they were making a number of different items from flower pots to dust bins to mops. I was started on the least popular machine the mop-head-put-er-on-er (probably not the official name). My job was the stand there all night and as the preshrunk sponges came down the line, I had to pick it up, melt a piece of plastic on the back (very hot!) and manually attach it to the base part of the mop head that would eventually get attached to a handle.

As simple as that sounds it was not easy, for one thing everything was hot hot hot, the sponges came at me with surprising speed and the process to attach them took amazing hand strength to get right. I was immediately overwhelmed but as I looked around the hot, smelly warehouse I realized that not only was it too loud to ask for help or guidance but I was also the only one not speaking Spanish.

How I got through that first night I do not know, never had 8 hours felt so long. My feet hurt, my back hurt, my hands were so sore I could barely stand it and I was TIRED. I was so tired that when I was give my 30 minute ‘dinner’ break (around 3:00 am) I sat down in a hard plastic chair in the breakroom and fell asleep sitting upright.

By the time I got out of there at 7:00 the next morning and limped to the car, I found a note from Chris telling me he and his friends had decided to go to Wildwood sometime in the middle of the night (clearly physical labor was not their cup of tea). I sat down behind the wheel but my hands were burned and blistered and I could not grab a hold of the steering wheel.

I managed to get myself home although at one point I did pull off the road because I was literally falling asleep at the wheel. I took a brief nap and managed to make it home without hurting anyone.

The next night was somewhat easier because at least I knew what to expect and I had slept the entire 12 hours between shifts and I brought food. I was once again on the mop machine but I made a game of it and with practice got fast enough that I had to wait for the next sponge to get to me.

The third night I worked another machine which I forget the particulars of but it was easier than the dreaded mop head. It was still a painfully long night and I remember I was positioned so that I watched the guys working the flower pots all night. Flower pots was by far the easiest job there; the pots were molded by a machine that dumped them into a giant cardboard box and the guys working it simply had to grab them before the box overflowed and stack them on a pallet next to their station, sure their hands still got burned but after a few days it got easier. A few lucky people had gloves, but they were personal property and not company issued –  I was much to poor too buy gloves and I looked at them as enviously as I looked at people who ate real meals during break time.

My 5th day there was payday, I cashed my check and had just enough money to pay my landlady for the week and buy a bus ticket to Maine. A friend had invited me to come visit for the weekend but once I got there I realized I couldn’t go back. I broke up with Shawn on a postcard and spent the rest of the summer rotating the 3 outfits I had packed while sharing a room with my friends younger sister, Meanwhile Chris and his druggie friends pilfered all of my worldly belongings – presumably to buy more crack.

And this is why you need to make sure your kids stay in school.

Would You Like Some Fries With That?

I recently finished reading a book written by a highly successful person (no spoilers, but I’m sure you’ll figure out who it was in my year end book review) who devoted a whole chapter to the jobs she suffered through before she became a highly successful person and I thought ‘hey, I’m a highly successful person (practically a household name) whose suffered a lot I should do the same.’ So, without further ado here you go (I’m going to link to this page for any potential future employers):

My first job was as a very glamorous chamber maid at a very run down motel by my house in Raymond Maine. At the time I was 14 and limited to working at places I could walk to – it was either the motel or a candle pin bowling alley – man I wanted to work at that bowling alley! The job was terrible, the motel was un-airconditioned, mildewy and run by a creepy old pervert. And because I was only 14 I was scrubbing toilets for student wages which at the time was just about $2.00 an hour. I was paid under the table but my creepy old boss still deducted taxes from what I earned. I worked there one season, left when the motel closed in September and never went back. The last time I drove by it, it had been completely renovated, expanded and gotten a pool. There definitely was no pool when I worked there, it was the kind of place you only stayed in if your car broke down on the way to somewhere better and you had no other options (it was not unlike the Bates motel). My boss used to open up the guest rooms before I got there in the morning and pocket all of the tip money people would leave for me. I really hated that guy.

 

That year I turned 15 and got my first car, I promptly drove it to the local McDonald’s (I needed $ for car insurance) and was hired immediately. I worked primarily the early morning breakfast shift up front behind the registers. It wasn’t a terrible job – I never once had to clean a toilet, scrub a 30-year-old shower curtain clean or get groped from behind. But it was HOT, it was excruciatingly HOT in there, I doubt it was air conditioned and if it was it probably wouldn’t have mattered since I was always given the register right next to the fryer. I was also greasy ALL the time. My biggest take away from this job was that my boss, who was a young and relatively attractive woman had a colostomy bag. I remember learning that and trying hard to stop myself from complaining about stupid things. My feet always hurt.

 

I spent the next summer at McDonald’s but once school started again I decided I needed a change. I left McDonald’s and upgraded to the high class world of Dunkin Donuts. Dunkin smelled a lot better than McDonald’s, didn’t leave me nearly as greasy and allowed me to eat all the free munchkins I wanted. The one big downside to DD was that my boss was a dick, a total old school asshole who didn’t like the way I filled 2 jelly donuts with one hand and complained that I wasn’t pouring coffee the right way (is there a wrong way to pour coffee? Apparently there is…). One day, without ceremony he fired me for eating a munchkin behind the counter (this was a big no-no we had to go into the back room to eat on the clock). This is the one and only job I have ever been fired from – it was totally worth it even though I don’t have any recollection of eating anything on camera, I as happy to get out of there.

 

In order not to lose my car and insurance the day after I left Dunkin Donuts I went right back to McDonald’s, they welcomed me back with open arms (who else was willing to be there at 5:00am on a Saturday?) as far as I recall I worked there the rest of the way through high school.

 

I had a few other gigs, that weren’t real long-term jobs. I spent a few days every year taking inventory at a local hardware store, I have vivid memories of sitting on an overturned bucket counting loose screws until I thought my head would explode. I spent a few months shelving children’s book at my local public library (by far the best job I have EVER had). I spent a month one summer living outside Los Angeles CA and working in the HR department of a fortune 500 company – I was so out of my element there I remember not being able to figure out which was the copy machine and which was the fax machine, but I liked that job I worked at a desk and got a paid lunch hour – HOUR. And occasionally I babysit, but I was terrible at it, I couldn’t relate to children, I didn’t know the first thing about caring for babies and I was super irresponsible – actually I’d like to publicly apologize to anyone I might have babysat for, I hope I did not emotionally scar your children too bad and I’m sorry for making long distance calls and eating all of your frosting.

 

When I got to college I wasn’t planning on working  but beer isn’t free and I found that pocket-money comes in very handy when you are a freshman making poor lifestyle choices. I presented myself to the on-campus pizza place and was hired right away. I was given a name tag and a register front and center. I liked that job, I actually liked it better than most of my classes and my attendance there was better than in most of the lecture halls. I met a lot of friends there probably because I was always grossly under-charging my fellow students. I have no idea how much money I lost that place through my shenanigans but for a brief period of time I was a big hit in a small circle of people. I remember when one day when I was tasked with scooping cream cheese in to small containers to wrap up with the bagels – the cream cheese came in a 5 gallon tub and after an hour of handling it I was so disgusted that it was years before I would eat it again. That place had the best curly fries.

 

After I left school and moved to California I spent my first Christmas season there working for a high-end luggage/gift shop upstairs next to Neiman Marcus in the fashion valley mall. I was hired strictly as their cashier which was perfect because the store sold $5,000 briefcases and Mont Blanc pens that would retail for twice that. I was WAY out of my comfort zone and I remember having some culture shock at the ridiculous things  rich people spent their money on.

 

My next full-time gig was at a low-end gift shop (Coach House gifts?) if the Christmas job had been the Sakes of the gift world my new job was somewhere between a DollarTree and a poorly stocked hallmark store. We sold cheap plastic and resin bobbles and knick-knacks that nobody wanted and nobody needed. The job was easy because hardly anyone ever went in there. the majority of my work day I spent giving my socially awkward boss dating and fashion advice. Fortunately for me he thought I was valuable enough that when I threatened to quit because it took me two buses and almost 2 hours to get to the mall (I only lived 3 miles away) he started driving me to and from work – looking back now I realize he may have been doing that for other reasons…

 

I eventually left the gift store and spent some time doing odd jobs – I worked for a few weeks telemarketing (selling pens and promotional items over the phone) I was terrible at that job. I spent exactly one day working for Boston market (sill waiting to get paid) and I spent a few weeks working for a small business out of someones garage. I was making cold calls selling… something? I don’t remember, I do remember that my ‘desk’ was an ironing board and I was paid in cash – there is a good possibility that that was not a legitimate business.

 

Eventually I was hired to work the sales counter at a local hair salon, once again I was inside and had a steady schedule. My boss, who was a real asshole never called me by my name, he referred to me as ‘girl’. As in “Girl – go restock the bathroom. Girl – order some more Paul Mitchell!” it was humiliating but at the time he was paying me more than his competitors would, the salon was a 2 minute walk from my apartment and for the first time in a long time my hair looked rally good, I was willing to put up with a lot of crap.

 

when I couldn’t take the salon anymore, I turned my boss in to the CA labor bureau for back overtime he never paid me and with the money that I got from that settlement I was able to spend an entire summer doing nothing but sitting by the pool and reading cheap sci fi novels. I guess I should be grateful that I won in the end.

 

after my settlement money was all gone I decided it was time to buckle down and try to find a real job. I bought a nice dress, and heavy resume paper (it was the 90’s I was still sending resumes through the mail). I managed to land a job at a small lien sale office, I started in the mailroom, posting and dragging (literally) 1000’s of letters to the post office everyday. I learned patience standing in long post office line (before there were smart phones to keep you entertained). Thanks to an incident of embezzlement and a dramatic mid-day arrest I was quickly promoted ‘up front’ to work data entry. I felt like I had finally made it – I got to SIT down at mt OWN desk, I had a telephone and health insurance and a 401K, it was amazing. It was a real job but it was also a double-edged sword, I worked with awesome people and had a regular schedule but I routinely got yelled at by angry and upset customers and at one point we had to install a buzzer on the door because of numerous death threats. It was at this time that I decided I needed to go back to college.

 

I worked at that little office for four years while I got my associates degree and then part of my bachelors degree in the evenings. The day I left was both a huge relief (no more angry customers!) but also incredibly sad –  I worked with my two best friends and I wasn’t leaving them for another job but to move 2,600 miles away.

 

I relocated to Philadelphia and quickly got hired at a full service brokerage firm which was surprising to me because I thought I was interviewing at a temp office. I walked into that job knowing nothing of investing or money management or anything financial (I hadn’t had a savings account since before I started driving). I quickly discovered hat no one cared, I was just a pretty face to answer the phone and fetch coffee – I did that for six years.

 

While answering the phone at the firm I also got a part-time job at Barnes and Nobel, mostly to support my book addiction but also to get cheap coffee  and because it was 3 blocks from my apartment and I spent most of my time there anyway. All the money I made at the bookstore went directly back to the bookstore (I was a great investment for that place). I rally loved working there and working two jobs wasn’t a big deal when I was single and had plenty of time on my hands but eventually I met my future husband and a started missing shifts. We moved in together and I realized that being a secretary and a part-time bookseller was unsustainable. I had been studying for my series 7 (brokers exam) and I had serious plans to take over my bosses portfolio when he retired but a very brutal and honest conversation with senior management one day reminded me  that I would only ever be a pretty face to them and nothing more. I quit my job the next day.

 

I decided to go back to school and get my masters degree so that I would never have to work two jobs again; I managed to score a job at the University I planned on attending to eliminate that pesky tuition burden.

 

And that is where I’m leaving you my friends – the rest is BORING and very adult and due to litigation concerns I can’t talk about much of it. Let’s just say I ended  up where I wanted to start out – surrounded by books.