Friday, January 23, 2009


Here I am escaping from a pile of paperwork. But I'm not leaping into hooking or knitting or reading another good book off the stack. No, this morning I'm traipsing down memory lane.

The other day I heard someone exclaim with pleased surprise: "I can't believe they pay me to do this job!" And that took me to thoughts of all the paid jobs I've ever had. I wondered if I had felt that way about any of them. And, you know, I did. I felt that way about every single one.

I was amazed that I could be paid for picking blueberries as a kid- and I could eat them as well! How great was that? Never occurred to me that I was eating my own profits. A little later, I worked in a roadside diner. I got to make milkshakes and scoop ice cream and felt very grown up.
I spent a summer in Banff (well, just outside the town) washing sheets and towels for vacationers. This was fun because there was a huge mangle that I loved putting the ironing through. I didn't love the mosquitoes that plagued me while I hung out the HUGE flannelette sheets on the line. Yes, we actually dried them outside most days. Very high-tech. But, I got paid to be away from home in a holiday spot almost as popular (for those teens I knew) as Fort Lauderdale.

There were various waitressing jobs and each one meant I got paid. It might be too Pollyanna-ish to say I'd have done this work for nothing. And I did resent the daytime waitressing jobs in the summer when my friends were spending time on the beach. But, a highlight was a night-time job in a very popular restauranthere in the 60's which served Jewish specialties. The food was absolutely delicious! And I learned so much about the food and culture and I met so many interesting people. My best memory was when the cast from "Fiddler on the Roof " came in every night after their show. They were, in my mind, so glamorous and exciting.
I have worked in warehouses full of records, filling orders and shipping them off to stores. I also was paid to work in record stores and listen to the music I loved. I was allowed to order the records and talk to people about the music. At times, I got paid to drive around to many stores and help organize them.

But eventually, we all had to get serious about our Careers. When I was a kid - about 5 - I decided I wanted to be a teacher. Good thing, because there were only a few areas of work for women in the 1950's. I could choose to be a teacher, nurse or secretary. The latter was completely out because my parents wouldn't allow me to learn how to type. And, to this day, I type like a reporter in a B movie. And nursing was out because my mind refused to even contemplate the notion. So, teaching was it and all those other little jobs were just a way to get there. But when I got there, Irealized didn't much like it. And, so, I continued to do the jobs that were fun and interesting.

My last job was the most surprising. I helped to manage an out-of-school daycare. It was truly exciting to go to work each morning. Who knew what the day would bring? What would the kids do today? What challenges would they present? And, just think, at the end of the day, I was paid to play with kids and drive them around in a bus and spend summer days on the beach. It just didn't get any better than that.

I guess my childish vision of being a teacher didn't match up to the reality. But, I have spent many years teaching in various ways as well as working with kids. I still enjoy it. As a volunteer, I get paid exclusively in smiles now which is sometimes better than money.

I think I'll always be a little surprised that whatever I bring to a job is of value to others. And I really hope that the anonymous person who started me down this train of thought also remains as lucky in her work choices.

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