There’s a meme going around to describe your first seven jobs – I think it started on Twitter but you can read great ones in blog form over at Catherine’s blog and Nicole’s blog. So thought I’d list mine here, because I know how much the children are going to cherish my blog-based memories in the future (ha ha!), or at least, I will go down as a legendary diarist like Mackenzie King and above all things, I want to be complete about it.
(Side note: I took the kids to Laurier House last week, along with a tour of all the embassies in the area so we could do flag naming, and it was actually a much better field trip than it sounds – the staff at Laurier House are adorable and enthusiastic. Anyway, there was a plaque there with a diary entry of King’s where he talked about his recent weight gain, then, as a side note, mentioned that Churchill had just declared war, and I could not stop giggling about the comparative importance of the two. Huh. Guess you had to be there.)
So! My first seven jobs:
1. Babysitter, of course – I got roped into this under duress when my Super Babysitter older sister got a real job at a pizza place, and one of her faithful clients begged me to fill in. I was a terrible babysitter, in that I had no sense of responsibility or authority, but I was also a very popular babysitter in that I would actually play with the kids. It definitely was not my calling, though.
2. Library page at my high school – In junior high I was a favourite of the school librarian, who was a friend, I think, of my mother’s, and she put together a small team of girls to help shelve books at recess time. When I got to high school I went into the library to ask if they needed any shelving help, because I’d really enjoyed not having to go outside for recess, and it turns out they did, and also that it was an actual paying position. I got the job and loved it and did this for minimum wage for a few hours a week after school during my Grade 9 year.
3. Textbook Girl – After my first year I was stolen away from the library by the English department at my high school, who employed two girls throughout the year and the summer to manage all the textbooks in the school. My job was to receive new books and stamp them with the school stamp; hand out books in September and as needed throughout the year; collect them in June and inventory them; then spend the summer repairing the covers of ripped or worn books.
It was THE BEST JOB EVER. I had a master key to the school and my own office – a special wood-floored room on the third floor just filled with books from top to bottom, with a big bay window that looked out on the lawn. My co-worker, Sheila, became one of my all time best friends and she and I would hide away in the book room every lunch hour, reading and eating in the window seat. I think I read every book in that room – all the great works of literature – and never had to go outside for recess once. In the summer, we worked completely unsupervised and had the full run of the school – there was no one else there but the janitors, who were sweet and kind to us. We’d get a record player from the library and sit in a room doing repairs and rocking out and occasionally exploring the big old school, which was kind of like a castle and built in the 1850s. It was marvelous.
4. Bank Teller – The summer after my last year of high school I had to sadly give up the Textbook Girl job, as I was no longer a student, and I needed to make some money to pay for university. My good friend Erica had a mom who worked at a bank, and she got me the highly coveted job of bank teller, a job that paid very well and involved working indoors and watching Days Of Our Lives in the breakroom at lunchtime. I only worked there for a few months before quitting because I was moving away to university, but I learned a lot. Also, I now cross my 7s, a source of eternal confusion to my children.
5. IBM Co-Op student – I did co-op in university, which meant four months of school alternating with four months of work for 4 2/3 years. My first three co-op terms were spent at IBM in Markham, doing a little programming and a little training and a lot of goofing around with the other co-op students. It was pretty glamourous, living in Toronto and making big bucks and taking the subway to work.
6. Financial Models – My last co-op term was at a company in Toronto that did financial management of mutual funds for banks and large retirement funds. They were a small company and they gave me a ton of freedom to design and build my very own piece of software and man, I loved it there so much. After I graduated I went on to work there full time (with my own co-op student – my sister FameThrowa). It was a great experience but I left it to get married and move to Ottawa.
7. Small Local Programming Company – I’ll leave this company nameless because they were just terrible. The worst job I ever had. This was the first job I had in Ottawa after moving here, a small software company that made their own programming language for the purpose of large-scale document formatting. The management there – a husband and wife team who had founded the company – was just the worst. You know how when you get hired somewhere, there’s usually a clause in the contract that says they can dismiss you within the first 3 months’ probationary period without cause? That’s usually just in case of a terrible fit, or they found out you lied or something. I’ve never seen it actually used anywhere else I’ve ever worked, but at Company X, it was enforced all the time. They’d take people on, and at the 2.5 month mark, decide they weren’t working out, and fire them. Parents with kids left good jobs to come there, only to be randomly fired after two months. People were always coming and going and no one was safe, and they never warned anyone when hiring them that this was just a trial thing and so people were blindsided and devastated and it was just terrible.
In the meantime, having narrowly survived my own probationary period, I had literally NOTHING to do – this was when I started blogging, out of desperation for something to keep me busy, and I’d often spend my whole days blogging or reading blogs. There were like, three people in the company that the CEO liked, his chosen ones, and they did ALL the work. They’d be running around all day long, working on 10 different projects, but no one else was allowed to help or do anything because the CEO didn’t trust them, so instead the rest of us just did nothing. It was a crazy, toxic environment.
I worked there for just over a year before being rescued by Nortel, and I think we all know how that worked out – but at least it was a pretty great place to work while it lasted.
What were your first seven jobs?