Friday, March 20, 2015

Give One Picture That Describes Your Story...

I attended a team offsite event for work this week and to help us all get to know each other better, we were asked to bring in one photo that describes our "story." I ended up bringing in this:
Big Wheel bike 
Because around the time I was 3 or 4 years old, I made my parents amused and proud when I was riding my Big Wheel down the street in my original home state of Washington and I chose to turn around in the driveway in front of a retirement home. Well, one elderly woman was sitting outside and did not like that I was doing that so she kept trying to make me stop. But I didn't stop, because I knew I wasn't doing anything wrong and that lady didn't own the driveway, and I wasn't hurting anyone. And I had to turn around somewhere because hello! Parents don't just let you keep riding your Big Wheel until you reach Oregon! Anyway, my parents lovingly tell stories like that as examples of the fact that I've always been a little headstrong, not afraid to challenge authority when appropriate, and not afraid to stand up for myself and do things my way. 
Anyway, I ended up using that one image as an abstract way to explain that those traits carried into my adult life, blah blah blah, but a lot of other people chose the literal  route and simply made collages of their lives.
Yes, I suppose I could've done that instead of basically conveying to everyone that I was born a hot-head. Whoops.
So some of their collages showed the different jobs they had held before joining the career that we are now all in together -- government consulting. And some of their past roles included working in state politics, working overseas, etc. and it made me smile to myself thinking about what my collage would've included had I gone that route. 
Below is a post I wrote years ago describing some of my former jobs. I think it's probably just as well that I stuck with the Big Wheel....

What a Way to Make a Living
(Originally posted July 2011)

I apparently have an entrepreneurial heart because I started wondering how to make money about the time I, I don't know, started breathing.

I sold cookies and Kool-aid at my mom's yard sales in the summer. I sold Friendship Bracelets to other children who were too lazy to make their own. (I grew up in the middle of Orchards, I had a lot of time on my hands to braid thread...)

When I was 12, I worked (underage) as a quasi-maid at my parents' motel. I also got on staff at another hotel as a babysitter. Because apparently some rich people like to dump their kids off on perfect strangers who haven't reached puberty yet while they go out on the town.

The first gig I got was taking care of a toddler and an infant. The infant was sick. I'd never babysat before.

I never worked at that place again.

When I was 13, my family moved to Tennessee where I continued my streak of random income-earning:

I worked as a Hostess at Shoney's.

I worked as a Dairy Queen server AT A TRUCK STOP.

I worked in a Rent-To-Own furniture store.

That one, I have tons of stories from. If you aren't familiar with the typical clientele of that sort of place, let me describe some of ours:

-we had actual Pimps
-we had drug dealers
-we had one lady with a tattoo on her forehead of a number that my God-fearing self can't even type here
-and others who I've now blocked out in my memory

We'd repo furniture and it'd come back with roaches. I made collection-calls. I drove the Box Truck. And I was the only female working there, so if the customers and environment weren't enough, you should meet my bosses!

One of them called me "Woman!" and also used the term "Broad" and whenever anyone asked where anything was in the office, the answer was:

"If it was up your *butt you'd know!"
*butt wasn't actually the word they preferred.

This is why I'm not really fazed by "difficult personalities" in D.C....

After that, I started working...

...on an assembly line!

You thought I was going to say something boring, didn't you?

In my college town was a plant that made Foam Packaging for everything from hospital beds, to BMW parts.

They paid above minimum wage and let you stare off into space while mechanically going through the same motion for hours. I was sold.

That place was fun. There were some other guys (guys! Always guys! I'm starting to see why I get along better with men in the workplace...) from my school who also worked there. And they took more advantage of the place then I did and used to bounce around in the back warehouse on the hospital bedding we'd just put together. And take naps.

Meanwhile, me and my conscience worked steadily away at a variety of brain-cell killing tasks.

Literally brain-cell killing. At one station we melted Styrofoam with hair dryers to get items to stick together. Pretty sure that is not the most healthy thing to smell for hours. But it explains a lot about me now....

At another station, we had to stand up large foam mats and spray glue on them, air-brush style. The great part was, (besides using the glue gun) you were back up against an identical station sothat person's glue would inevitably over-spray --

onto your hair.

I never had a dramatic incident but I do remember the sensation of glue spray coming over the top of the divider wall. And I probably was thinking "somehow this isn't how I pictured college life..."

After we sprayed them, we had to wrestle with these heavy gel pads that went on one foam mat, then we had to slap a second foam mat on top of that - forming part of a bed.

Once again, I feel bad for the end user of something I created...

After college, I moved to D.C. where before I was hired full time, I served as an intern for 3 months, making no money. So then I resorted to scavenging free food at events whenever possible and at one point found out about a catering job I could do to make some money. They bus you out to the event (not in the best part of town) and you make sure the buffet stays full. But the best part?

It was for Redskins Games.

So while I had to slave over steaming hot trays of food for other people - I also got to watch pro-football for free. I only did it once, but it was pretty fun. And it was ironic to have people dismiss you as "just the server" but be getting paid, then get up, put on my Big Girl Suit and walk right into the White House complex -- and work for free.

And even after the White House hired me full-time, you never seem to have enough money in this town. So I've supplemented my income through the years with everything from part-time work at Golds Gym to getting paid to sing harmony in a cover band, to selling merchandise on a music tour, living in a bus with a bluegrass band (as I mentioned here).

So right now I just have the two careers (consulting and the U.S. Navy Reserve) but maybe it's time to find a new random gig again. Anyone need a weekend travel writer?....

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