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Lunchtime Poll

Lunchtime Poll: What’s the Most Interesting Job You’ve Had?

Hooray for Friday! To be honest, when you work from home and your spouse works retail, weekends don’t mean as much as they do to the typical 9-5ers, but for those of you headed into days off, I raise a glass in solidarity.

Speaking of work, I’m curious: What’s the most interesting job you’ve had? I don’t necessarily mean “most fulfilling” or “worst” or “easiest,” though those categories may overlap. By “interesting,” I mean, what job has given you the best stories?

For me, it was the year I spent working at a gas station in Missoula, Montana. One would think that it would be fairly boring, but its location provided both neighborhood people and interstate travelers. Our favorite direction to give was the way to Seattle:

“Take a left out of the parking lot.”

Customer: “Yes, and?”

“In around 8 hours, stop.”

By turning left and heading straight, you would be driving West on I-90. Travel long enough, and ta-da! Seattle. Magic.

We had our fair share of crazy people and regular customers (who very well could be some of the crazy people), and even though I didn’t make much money, it was actually kind of fun. Because of selling cigarettes, I got to the point where I could guess with fairly decent accuracy what brand someone smoked, just from looking at them. Now, I don’t know if I could do that as well because there are so many “special” versions of every brand. I’ve lost my party trick mojo. Every once in awhile, though, I can blow someone’s mind with a simple, “You used to smoke American Spirits in the blue pack. Hard pack.”

So what about all of you? Any surprisingly fun jobs? Jobs that made for excellent people watching? Any other craziness? Let’s all sit down for storytime.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

29 replies on “Lunchtime Poll: What’s the Most Interesting Job You’ve Had?”

My most “interesting job” was working in a bucket factory (Pro-western plastics) on the 3pm-midnight shift for four days in the summer between highschool and university.  It was “interesting” for two reasons: first there was a ton of drug use at the factory (which seems super scary due to the sheer volume of molton plastic= and my parents totally flipped their s**t when I told them about this and basically made me quit) and secondly, you know how 1 gal/4 L icecream pails used to have plastic or metal handles on them? Yeah, those were snapped on by hand. I know this, because I did it…. but it made my thumbs purple with bruises and me unable to hold my flute, which was a problem because I was going into university for music. It paid $7.50/hr in a time when the minimum wage was $5.90.

My most interesting job for real I think is my current one, working teaching undergrad classes and tutorials. It’s really fun and challenging… and I get to share the knowledge that I have spent these billions of years in school attempting to accumulate.

I think my most interesting job is going to be the one I’m about to start, as a newbie, underqualified school counselor in rural AB for kids K-12. Thank God I’m not the only one on staff- my coworker has been there about 3yrs or so and I’m sure I’m going to banging on her door all the time. This is my first job using my psych degree but all of the literature I’ve seen is about how social workers should be doing this job :(

This being said, I am from Toronto. I am the only woman under 30 I’ve seen with a short haircut. I’m a nonmonogamous queer woman who thankfully has a live-in BF so escapes the side eye on that point. I DO NOT fit in with the culture here, eeek.

Hey, I don’t know if this helps, but Edmonton (which I realize is far-ish south of you) is actually a really progressive town. Although the trucks and the large number of hyper-feminine performing lululemon wearing women are deceptive, there is a large Queer community, a good indie music scene,  and it is the only part of the province that votes anything other than conservative (though last provincial election we mostly voted conservative, because it looked like the crazy ultra right wing Wild Rose party was about to win). Also, I totally feel like we should be friends in real life though I am about to head back to school in Toronto for one more year, before coming back to Edmonton to be with my partner, adjunct  teach classes, and write my dissertation. But  in a year, when I live in E-town permanently, we should be friends for reals!

BAWWWW I WOULD LOVE THAT. I’m gonna be beginning to explore the Edmonton ~scene a bit this fall, what with the Comics Expo coming up in Oct. BF and I have already decided that we’re getting a hotel for that Saturday night so hopefully something fun and sexxay will be on the books.

Wannabe you are so greeeaaat.

(Also, BF went to uni for music too- UWO- so I feel like we would have so many avenues of conversation!)

Woooo! I am so glad to hear that. I do think Edmonton is a great place (we are totally Calgary’s hipper older sibling with better urban design and more parks) but I can totally see how it would be a huge shock to move to Alberta after living in Toronto too. In terms of random weirdness, I also went to UWO for my undergrad too… I transferred to Western after 2 years at U of Alberta. If your bf knows a flute player (turned musicologist) named Erin, that’s me…. I graduated back in 2008 though.

Yes, my last name does end with an S! Does your BFs name start with a J or an M? I didn’t know a ton of tuba players, though I dated a bass trombonist in my 4th year and they hung out together.Also- I will PM you this afternoon, I am working on school work right now and don’t want to break my stride.

@wannabemusikwissenschafter and @marthamydear

You both need to know how fascinating I found this conversation!  Also, @marthamydear, I lived all over Alberta, including the real north and probably have the odd FB contact and / or friend, I could totally hook you up with – including a FAS specialist (my bf who now works out of Ed, but spent years working on a reserve in the north) and a school youth worker, who is in a northern community, but a pretty big one so probably not where you are.  Shoot me a pm if it’s not too creepy to tell me where you are and I’ll see if I can help.

I also second everything @wannabemusikwissenschafter says about Edmonton.  There is definitely a great groove there once you find it.  While I prefer Calgary for lots of things, it doesn’t have the ‘leftie’ vibe that you can find in Edmonton.  Also, if you’re into road tripping, there are really a million cool places to see from Edmonton.  Saskatoon has a great queer community that I could definitely hook you up with.

BF kept talking about maybe wanting to settle in Edmonton if and when we could and I’m more and more okay with that. I had initially favoured Calgary for all of the CSAs and things you could access in the south, but it’s so expensive! And the more I hear about how awesome Ed can be, the cooler I become with that.

(Oh, and re the resources, I may actually hit you up for FAS things- it’s such a thing here. Gonna give it a couple weeks and see what the needs are. You rock, thank you!)

I worked as a case manager for a little over a year and a half in a mental health clinic servicing juvenile sex offenders and child-aged sexual abuse victims. I worked almost exclusively with the juvenile offenders though and it was definitely the most eye opening/interesting job I’ve had so far.

I worked at a massive used book store in NYC for 8½ years. OMG do I have stories. The girl who called the cops on us for not letting her in after we closed; the shoplifter I put in a headlock; the random bizarre things people would say to us (“Where are your books on necrophilia?”); having to search the security cams for dudes masturbating in the corners… It was a fucking trip.

My best job ever was a summer spent as a camp counselor for kids with developmental disabilities. My days were filled with just making those kids have the best summer of their lives, which included: letting them cover twinkies with frosting and candy and eat as much as they wanted (most of the time it was handfuls of frosting), riding reticulated bikes, the biggest damn water balloon fight ever, yoga, going to children’s museums, watch the salmon run, and so much more. Everyday was an adventure and every day was full of stories! Like one time, at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, one of my kids pulled down his pants and peed in the fountain in front of everyone. An angry mom came up and complained to my boss who just responded, “So? The kid had to pee.” I loved those kids so much!

Sometimes unintentional erections happen. (You can tell they’re unintentional because the guy does nothing to point it out to you or request that you do anything out of the ordinary.) I had one client who had a perfectly innocent “arousal response” that would twitch every time I hit a sore spot in his neck. It was kind of hilarious.

I’ll come back with stories of destruction when I have more time…

The current one … To be fair, all my jobs are pretty dull.

Wait! I was an inking assistant for DC Comics. DC didn’t know I existed; but I worked on a couple Superman Annuals, a Batman Annual, and a long-ish run on Hawkman. I also lettered (old school, not digital) several independent comics.

For hilarious stories nothing beats out my tenure as a cashier at a pet supply store. We once had a guy come in with his submissive crawling behind him on a leash. Did I mention that this was around two in the afternoon, on a Wednesday? Or that the store was in one of the most vanilla suburbs you can imagine? I have never seen a whole store full of people so singularly focused on ignoring something before. Everyone just acted like they couldn’t see it. I love the Midwest.

I packed parachutes for skydivers. It’s grueling but lucrative work that gave me early onset osteoarthritis in my thumbs and probably some knee damage. The skill has saved me from financial ruin twice, though. At my fastest I packed 40-60 a day. My sister can pack 80-100 in a day though, so I was not fast. Jumping out of planes and the jobs that are associated with that are kind of the family business.

Definitely my current job. I’m a writer for Hallmark Cards. Sometimes I’m writing cards, so I’m figuring out what people would want to say to one another: grandparents to granddaughters, adult daughters to mom’s new husband, etc. I’ve written a few kids’ books. Right now I’m on a project to come up with new product ideas. I work with other writers, and with designers and engineers. I love it.

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