Saturday, June 16, 2012

A wee walk down employment memory lane...

I'm kind of amazed as I look back on all the many jobs I"ve had. 

Fishsticks sample hander-outer at a grocery store
I wasn’t even 16, and I did this with my younger sister Debbie, who doesn’t remember it. Sometimes I think it might be a dream. But I’m pretty sure it isn’t.

Bakery/Deli girl at a Red Owl grocery store
This was my job all through high school. I wore a cute little outfit and hat, and made delicious sandwiches for myself, and okay ones for customers. lol. This was the job that caused me to go vegetarian at the age of 16 much to the delight (not) of my family. It was the hams that did it.

Plastics factory, 3rd shift
College summer job. It paid great, but running a giant scary machine (making Maybelline makeup cases and M&M candy canes and stuff) was so boring, I would run out of stuff to think about. Yet it was also hard, because you had to do things to the things the big machines spit out, and sometimes you’d get behind! And they’d pile up! Also it was in the middle of the night. It was pretty miserable.

I am the worst person on the planet to have ever held this job. My husband and I did it to raise money to travel long ago before we were married. I think we messed up the houses more than we cleaned them. 

This was my main profession forever. I waited tables at a 24-hour Embers in Madison during college, and a strong of Minneapolis joints – a jazz club, a peanut shells on the floor place, a horrible nightclub, a fancy restaurant, a super hip bar, and other places I am probably blocking out.

Between waitress gigs I worked at an import store that sold stuff from all over the world. It was kind of a hippie place, and a pretty fun job. I especially had a nice time making fun window displays. Actually, both my waitress career and my restaurant careers are reflected in the Disillusionists. I remember one time we got this wooden sculpture from Africa in and I made this awesome front window display of it, and then the sun hit it, and all these bugs hatched and crawled out and it was just buggy. Customers informed us of this, and my co-workers and I thought it was hysterically funny. I don’t know why I find this anecdote so entertaining. I really am not a very good employee.

Advertising/Marketing writer
This is what I do now to pay the bills. I started onsite at an agency then went on my own freelancing, and I’ve been doing it ever since, for oh, a good dozen years. I write print ads, web copy and radio copy for ad agencies and businesses of all sizes. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes not, depending. Some of my clients know about my secret life as a novelist, others don’t. Freelancing is a great job for a novel writer, because you can usually manage to squeeze in some fiction writing most every day.

Sometimes I desperately wish I didn’t have to work, and that I could write novels all the time. But, I have also made some of my best most fiercest friends at jobs past, and also, thanks to my job as a freelancer, I know a ton of about every kind of business and I talk to all kinds of different people—that kind of info really is valuable.  


  1. Eesh. Waitressing. Worst job ever. I am SO not about 'Honey, can you get me..?' But let me tell you, after doing it? I tip *really* well. More power to anyone who can do that job without screaming "Who broke your damn legs?" at needy customers. :D

    1. I have to say I never tried that line - when a person orders something - "who broke your damn legs?" lol. And, YES! I, too, tip well. and I feel a special bond of pain with former food service workers.

  2. I've done retail, and I also ran big scary machines at a plastics factory for awhile too. Then I got promoted to quality control. Left that job because I was losing my sanity. While running machines there though, I plotted entire novels in my head. What else was there to do?

    1. Hey, look! Another refugee from the scary machines of the plastics factories. Good for you to use your time so wisely!!

  3. God I hated waitressing, and I only did it for a month. At a place called The Wooden Frog Eatery (which has long since gone belly-up... not my fault. really.) It was the only job I was actually fired from.

  4. Hah! I think it's a badge of honor to be fired from a job at least once. The Wooden Frog belly up? There's an image!!