I was reading my friend Susan's blog today and she had a great post on Labor Day. She reminded her readers that Labor Day is meant to honor the working men and women of our society, then wrote about all her previous and current jobs. It led me to reflect on my own working experiences and all that I took away from those various jobs. And they were- truly- varied. So I hope she forgives me but I am totally gonna do the same thing on here because I think it's important to record our experiences-especially when they have taught us so much. I like to be descriptive so this may be long...
1. My very first job was working as a field hand at a corn maze. I was 14, and the only reason why I got hired on so young was that the owner of the corn field was a family friend. My older brother Grant also worked there, along with friends in the stake that I knew pretty well. The shifts were long and laborious, and Grant and I often didn't get home until midnight--soaked in sweat and covered in dirt.
It was required that we memorize all three parts of the maze even if we just worked in one part. I can't remember the size of the maze but it covered a few acres and had a few bridges. It was massive. It was so big that it was in the papers and people from neighboring states would come to walk through it. After spending so many hours in it I finally came to know my way around. Many times I would lead young families or children out of the maze that were unable to finish or had to exit for some reason. I also led drunks out (it was against the rules to bring alcohol into the maze, but of course people would sneak it in occasionally). Yes, at the young age of 14 I bossed around large drunk men who threw things at me and cussed me out. I was totally scared but I had to put on a brave face or else no one would respect me.
I had a lot of good times, but also many bad and scary ones. Around Halloween all of us "corn cops" as we were called would dress up scary and hide in the corn, terrifying passers-by. I refused to wear the gory make-up and smelly masks so I resorted to a dark cloak that covered my face. One night I stood there in the corn under a full moon and all was quiet. It was like the calm before a storm. All of a sudden I heard heavy and fast footsteps running around the corner towards me, and without thinking I stepped out from the corn in front of a large figure. In a seconds time I could smell the heavy stench of alcohol. I was swiftly punched in the face- which resulted in a bloody nose, black eye, and loss of consciousness. The man ran off. I lied on the ground unable to move or think or make clear of what just happened. Lucky for me the next person to walk down the path was a nurse, and she found me and called for help. I don't really remember much except that someone carried me out of the maze and my brother drove me home as I lied down on the backseat. I remember him asking me, "Do you need to go to the ER?" and I muttered "no. take me home." I worked there for a few more nights, the last night being Halloween. Elated that it was all over, my brother and I took some pumpkins and as we were driving home, chucked them out into the fields and watched them explode. It was glorious.
lessons: I learned how to deal with rude people, work hard and sweat hard, contain my fear (not only of drunken men but of my fellow "scarers" that I had to pass on a nightly basis, especially my quarter-giant friend Steve with the chainsaw), how to chuck a pumpkin out the car window, and also what alcohol smells like. My sense of smell is heightened and whenever that sour stench is near it it unmistakeable.
2. My first "big girl" job, meaning I applied by myself and drove myself to work, was at Dairy Queen. I was 16 and I had a teenage appetite, so you can imagine how many times I took advantage of having free ice-cream whenever I pleased. This particular DQ was old, run-down, and disgusting. Thankfully I just took orders and made the ice-cream not the food, but whenever I saw how they cooked it I wanted to throw up. Everyone that worked there except me was black, which was good because they were really fun to be around, but not so good because I got teased a lot. They were mostly all nice to me, but I always got the dirty jobs like cleaning the bathrooms and such. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't allowed, but they also let me get free blizzards when I was off the clock, like coming home from YW or on a date with my boyfriend. My family loved that I could bring them free blizzards whenever they wanted, haha. On slow days, I would make up my own blizzard or shake combinations and I fell in love with a chocolate malt that had chunks of, yep, more chocolate. I would eat one almost every day. It was bad. If not for my high metabolism (which is no more. *sigh*), I probably would have gained 20-30 lbs on ice-cream alone.
lessons: I learned to tolerate being teased, even though it still hurt deep down. I also learned how to take orders from the drive through window, use an ancient cashier that broke all the time, and how the fats-food industry fries food (so gross). This was also my first taste of customer service- which meant making customers happy even if they are jerks.
3. Banana Republic Outlet. The DQ was paying me next to nothing so I found this job that had a more reasonable salary and was conveniently located at my favorite mall- the Boardwalk along the river. In high school, the Boardwalk was THE place to go to hang with friends or go on dates or shop. When I applied, the manager told me I needed to "up" my fashion sense and I would be hired. So for the first time ever I shopped for myself, with my own money, in a store that actually classy. I loved it. I loved the atmosphere and all the people I worked for and alongside. I loved feeling more sophisticated. I even loved when rich people would come in and ask me to be their personal shopper, which meant picking outfits for them as they stood in the dressing room waiting on me. Yes, customers were snobby a lot of the time but I didn't mind it so much. One time Diane Keaton came into the store and she said hi to me :) My only regret is that I spent a good portion of my paycheck on clothes for my boyfriend with my employee discount. Stupid, stupid.
lessons: I learned that I LOVED retail. And dressing up :)
4. Eddie Bauer Outlet. Just right next door to Banana, actually. And it paid the same, too. And the clothes were much less stylish. So why work there, you ask? Because my boyfriend became the assistant manager, and I wanted to see him more. Stupid. It was an okay place to work, much less busy than Banana and the crowd it brought in was nicer and older. But management was terrible and there were not a lot of kids my age to talk to. Oh, and my boyfriend was my boss which caused a lot of tension in our relationship (on top of the tension that was already there, because this guy was emotionally and verbally abusive as well). Then my best friend got hired on so it was a little better. When I was 18 and decided to move to Utah on account of the fore-mentioned boyfriend, I quit my job there. This made it really awkward when Sarah (BFF) and my ex worked on the same shift. I felt kinda bad about that...
lessons: I learned what it felt like to be manipulated by three different managers, two of which were embezzling money form the store's cash register. I also learned how to dress old people.
5. When I moved to Utah, it took me some time to find a job until one day on craigslist there was a listing at the Salt Lake City International Airport. I called the number and spoke to the manager, John, who told me to meet him at the airport for an interview. Something felt shady but I went anyways, and he hired me on the spot. I didn't even know what the store would be until we walked through terminal D, and lo and behold it was a tiny corner Fossil Store. I was elated! I loved Fossil watches and purses and everything else. From there on out I basically managed the store alone on my shifts, and one other girl named Jessica managed it on her shifts. John was never around.
This was perhaps my most favorite job of all. I got to sit in this darling little store, sparkling with watches in glass cases and beautiful leather goods, and people-watch all day long. I sat in a little spinning stool and typed poems on the computer when the airport was quiet, and I did this for hours and hours. Needless to say I wrote a lot of poems. Directly across from the store was a frozen yogurt place that I visited often, and adjacent to me was a music store. All the dudes that worked at the music store would come and talk to me, and later I found out they all had mini-crushes on me. haha. Jessica became my go-to girl whom I would spill all my gossip to, and she was dating one of the music store guys. We all became good friends and hung out on our days off.
lessons: I learned how to repair and lengthen/shorten watches, be a watch saleswoman, arrange pretty displays, be my own manager, and close the store by myself. It was bliss.
It became normal life for me to wake up at dark, leave my apartment and walk to the Trax station, take it downtown, then walk a few more blocks to the bus stop. The bus would get me to the airport, and then when the day was done I'd do it all over again in reverse to get home. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
6. Since I loved working at the airport so much, I picked up another job down in the next terminal at Wilson's Leather. I was now working full-time at Fossil and part-time at Wilson's. I never saw the sun, except through the terminal windows. Those were long days, but self-fulfilling. I was being busy, independent, grown-up, and making "lots" of money. I was buying expensive airport food for lunch every day- and sometimes for breakfast, too. I bought two very pricey leather purses, four new watches, and one leather wallet that I normally wouldn't have cared for. I had friends at both locations and was popular and well-liked. I began working alone at Wilson's and closing the store by myself, which made me feel smart and superior. Things generally went my way (except when stingy airport security wouldn't let me keep my whipped yogurt) and I felt on top of the world.
And then it was time to leave. To attend college in Idaho. I felt stuck. 'Do I really want to do this? Become a poor college student and start my social life all over?' My head said no, but my heart confirmed that it was right.
lessons: I learned that no one should ever pay $200 for a purse even if it is real leather. Unless it's a diaper bag that can magically hold as much crap as Mary Poppin's bag, of course.
ps- a few years later as I was passing through the airport, I learned a few things. 1. Airport life is not as glamorous as I concocted it to be in my head. 2. John was embezzling money from the store and had landed himself in jail. No surprise there. 3. BOTH Fossil and Wilson's closed, probably because the goods were so expensive and not being sold enough, or perhaps because the nice saleswoman who didn't put pressure on customers to buy but instead was genuine & friendly left (that would be me. but I kid...I don't give myself that much credit.)
7. In Rexburg, job findings were limited, but I eventually found a spot at Gandolpho's (which isn't there anymore. Now it's a pancake house or something.) At G's I enjoyed the simple task of making sub sandwiches. It was easy and low-key, and I got a free sandwich every shift. I made a few friends here, but met plenty of creepers, too. My boss (also named John) was one of them, as well as one of my co-workers who endlessly tried to hit on me. I liked that it was close enough to my apartment that I could walk to and from work, and also that it was right next to Broulim's (a local grocery store).
lessons: I learned how to slice avacado properly, make homemade BBQ sauce, and what combinations taste good on a sandwich.
8. On my off-track I decided to move to Idaho Falls and live with my grandpa and uncle. I'm not counting this one as a real job- but I got hired at Bath & Body Works at the mall. They trained me for a few weeks and kept promising a schedule, but I never got any shifts. Not wanting to waste any more time, I quit and looked elsewhere. Once again I needed to find a job, so I turned to the school system. My major was Early Childhood/ Special Education at the time (it changed later), and I loved children. That fall I landed a job at Hawthorne Elementary School, the cutest little place ever, as a 2nd grade teacher's aide. Mrs. Hart was the teacher and she was the sweetest woman- I felt so blessed. We became good friends and I fell in love with her class. While working at the school I got engaged to Jonathan, and I remember coming into the classroom one morning excited to tell Mrs. Hart. She asked me to draw the ring on the board (I didn't have it quite yet b/c it was being fittted) and when the class walked in they were all like "ooh...ahh..Ms. Lindsey you're getting married?!" It was so cute.
I loved the school setting- going back and forth from class to office area to library to lunchroom to schoolyard to crosswalk after school. The tasks were simple but the children were hard to handle sometimes.
lessons: I learned so much from this job, I can't quite put it into words. But, how to use a copy machine and laminating machine are a few :) The kids taught me a lot about life, love, and loss. Their little minds and hearts could take so much I could hardly believe it. I loved this job.
9. Being an aide was great but I didn't get a lot of hours, so I went to the principal asking if there was more I could do. She right away put me in a program called DAC, where I was as an aide in a class with autistic children. The teacher, Mrs. W, said to me on my first day "I'm happy that you want to be in here...not a lot of staff members would be so willing." She told me to expect wild behavior and lots of accidents. I was nervous to be around them, not sure of how I would handle them or myself, but let me tell you....whatever love I felt for the second-graders in Mrs. hart's class, that love was times five for these autistic students. They were amazing. My favorite part was sitting with them one on one and helping them with a specific skill, like putting a puzzle together or writing their name. I didn't get to be this personal in the other class...there I would just put activities together and write down spelling lists and grade papers, but here I could truly teach and nurture and support their learning capabilities.
lessons: there truly are no words, but overall I learned not to judge anyone by the label that is put on them. These kids were so clever and had so much potential and nothing could mask that or take that away. And I learned that, contrary to Mrs. W's beliefs, it is not an appropriate punishment to lock a child in a dark room when they misbehave but instead sit down beside them and talk it out. She wasn't aware that I broke her rules. And I wouldn't have cared if she was.
funny side story: probably the most amusing day of this job was when one of the kids locked himself in the bathroom stall and chucked his poopy diaper over the door at my face, then as I was cleaning myself off he escaped under the door and out into the hallway, bare-bummed and covered in poo. I wasn't laughing then but now I chuckle :)
10. My experience with special needs children led me to apply for yet another job while I was working my other two at the school (plus the time I spent in other classrooms grading papers for bonus pay). I was thrilled when I was hired as developmental paraprofessional at the Learning Center in Idaho Falls. And surprised, seeing as how little education and experience I had...but it was a very fun job. The children I worked with ranged from being autistic to having asperger's syndrome. I was mainly assigned to a little boy named Benny, who was severely autistic and wouldn't talk. I got to take Benny out into the community each week and do lots of activities with them. He was so sweet and would hold my hand. As wedding day and winter semester approached, I knew I'd be sad to leave. Not just Benny but all those children I became close with and cared for. I will never forget Benny saying "Hi, Ms. Lindsey" and "Bye, Ms. Lindsey" on those last few days. What a breakthrough! I felt terrible for leaving him.
lessons: I learned how to devote myself to one little kid, keeping his best interests at heart before mine.
11. I almost forgot this one because it was so short-lived. But for about a year, I was a non-active Mary Kay consultant. My sister-in-law got me into it, and I really did love it. Except I didn't love selling it. Ever since I sold MK product I haven't gone back to using anything else, but being a consultant is very difficult especially in a small college town filled with many other consultants. I went to the weekly meetings, organized the face parties, even made some money here and there but it wasn't enough to keep me motivated. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing but I also got my first credit card through this job- a Mary Kay card from Chase with a very high credit limit that I've reached a few times. ouch. We are still paying off this card- its our only one but it KILLS!
lessons: how to apply make-up the right way! That was the fun part :)
12. My last job before I became a mother was while Jonathan was in school and I was pregnant. We were pinching pennies as newlyweds and needed just a tad bit more to pay our bills.To this day I can't believe I was crazy enough to do this...but being broke makes people do crazy things, right? I signed up for the only job that would take me being preggo-- and that was as a pregnant model for the art department. No, not nude thank heavens (though I may have not cared, ha!). I got to wore skimpy little shorts and a sports bra while I stood on a raised platform in the middle of 20-30 students, all eyes on me as they traced each and every curve of my body on their sketchpads. Glorious. I was 7 months along and although very self-conscious, the students always attempted to flatter me by saying stuff like:
"We never get pregnant models in here! What an opportunity! Thank you!"
"That pose is stunning! Could you maybe..." then proceed to offer suggestions of how to move my swollen limbs. I wanted to smack them in the face and say "Perfect! Could you hold that position?!"
"You look so cute! Boy or girl?" only about a million times a day, when I so did not feel cute standing half-naked in sportswear. And saying "boy" got old, too.
Sometimes the poses were very long, like for a full hour. I had to request extra breaks and bathrooms trips. I also had to make up the poses myself, and when everything was swollen and throbbing, creativity was lacking. So I would just sit with "fancy hands" (fingers spread for a delicate look).
The highlight of it all was when Nolan Parson (Neil Parson's brother) visited the class and did a quick sketch of me. It was one of those times where I was just sitting....haha. He was going to throw it away but I asked him if I could keep it. I still have it somewhere :)
When I got to be 9 months I just couldn't hold poses anymore, and I was excused from the modelling thing. And THANK GOODNESS. I hope we are never so broke that I have to do something like that again...but looking back, I'm glad I did anyway :)
And that brings us to now. Since I had our baby boy, and then a baby girl 2 years later, I've loved the job as stay-at-home mom more than any other job. I truly believe that Heavenly Father guided me down a path of different jobs to shape me into being a better person and prepare me for motherhood. With each job I became a little more aware of what was important: hard work, responsibility, money-management, love, and trust. If I were to list the lessons I've learned in the last three years, it would be endless, so I won't even go there. But, I know that this is what I'm meant to be doing right now, and there's no amount of money someone could pay me to replace it. It's also the most difficult by far, but I don't ever want *this* job to end.
ps- sorry this was so long. I applaud you if you read the whole thing :D