• February 27, 2017
February 27, 2017, 9:06:48 pm *
Welcome, Guest. Please Log In to participate in forums.
News: Talk about how to cope with chronic illness, disability, and other health issues in the academic workplace.
Pages: 1 ... 4 5 [6]
Author Topic: Your First Non-Academic Job  (Read 14152 times)
A Ronnie James Dio Approved
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 1,623

I am a #$%&! delight.

« Reply #75 on: April 25, 2012, 6:35:54 pm »

My first job was at a nursery and crafts store.  I would run the register, stock things inside and sweep, but they liked to have a mix of males on the job to work in the outdoor nursery.  Most of plants weren't heavy at all, but they always sent the guys out there and left the girls with the ribbon.  Sexist...  Occasionally, there would be lots of people coming to buy trees in the spring after a heavy rain.  Those burlap wraps around the roots got really heavy when they were soaked.  I wasn't that big of teenager and I really struggled at times getting those things into people's trucks.  I liked it there.  I made out with a fellow worker back by the box compactor.  That was exciting.

After that, I worked at Pizza Hut until I went to the military.  I was a cook.  It was alright.  Back when I started, they had all you can eat cheese, pepperoni or supreme pizzas every Monday.  They would have them pre-made and waiting for the oven before the dinner rush.  If it was a slow night, there would be all these pizzas that would just be thrown out.  Well, one manager let me throw all the leftovers through the oven at the end of the night to take home.  I took home 13 free pizzas that night.  I stuck them in a deep freezer in our basement. 

I think the deal working there was if you worked longer than 4 hours, you could get a free personal pan pizza and a drink.  Well, I never did that.  I would wait until a bunch of pizza orders came through at once.  I would take a medium pan crust, put pepperoni, onions and green peppers on it and send it through the oven mixed in with everything.  When the guy on the other end started taking them out, he'd say "Hey Isotope!  What's this one?  I don't see a ticket."  I would look at my tickets, look at his, act confused and shrug my shoulders.  He would shrug his shoulders back at me and say "Well....you want it?  I gotta throw it out if not."  I'm really shocked that they never figured it out since it was the same pizza every time.  Is that bad? 

One of the managers also used to call other fast food places in town and "trade".  We would send over 4 large pizzas for a bunch of KFC.  I'm sure that wasn't allowed, but I would drive the stuff over.  I felt like the driver in a heist.  One night, after closing, we started spraying each other with the fire extinguishers.  The next time a manager checked those things, he flipped out.  Jesus, I was a bad employee. 

"I dunno, Dr. Isotope.  All your music sounds like something off of guitar hero, expert level." -- student
Just another
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 1,925

« Reply #76 on: April 25, 2012, 9:04:59 pm »

One of these stories reminded me of my mother's first job. Her father owned a funeral home in Chicago, and they lived above it. Her job was to do the makeup and hair on dead bodies. She was never afraid of dead bodies, and thought it was a great job for a teenager to experiment with makeup. Apparently she did a pretty good job.

My dad's first job, in Chicago, was as a soda jerk/ice cream scooper. That's how he met Mom. He overheard her talking about going roller skating--an outside park downtown, and he got off work, grabbed his skates at home, and made like mad for the park. He casually strolled up to her, and skated a few. Got invited for milkshakes after with the gang, and they were married a few years later.
doing the best imitation of myself as a
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 7,733

« Reply #77 on: April 25, 2012, 9:25:52 pm »

Some of these jobs sound so interesting! Mine were the usual.  I worked as a babysitter from 11 on (and would never leave an 11-year-old me with a kid today... maybe not even a 37-year-old me, to be honest), at the community pool snack bar for my first paying job as soon as I got my working papers at 14 or so (probably ate more snacks than I sold), at the local theme park operating the rides in relatively poor working conditions, as a telemarketer/survey goon, and then at my mother's college from there on.  I was also a candy striper in the hospital terminal ward as a very young teen, which lasted approximately until my favorite patient died.  At 16, I worked at a haunted hayride in the fall with my boyfriend and his friends.  The money was great for the time ($20/5 hours), and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the acting aspect.  This thread brought up embarrassing memories of a very early attempt at entrepreneurship.  When our babysitting got off the ground at age 11, we decided to expand completely.  We put out a flyer advertising that we would mow lawns (no problem), fix washing machines, etc.  Thankfully, no one took us up on most of our offers.  Oh, yes.  I also did some dog sitting.  Unfortunately, I am afraid of dogs.  It didn't work too well.       

Quote from: bread_pirate_naan
You are a genius. 

There is apparently no joy in life that mathematicians will not attempt to dessicate with the dry, hot air of statistical analysis. -anonymous commenter
Junior member
Posts: 99

« Reply #78 on: April 26, 2012, 12:50:09 pm »

By far the worst of these jobs was canvassing for PIRG. The experience convinced me that our political system--even groups on the left, with which I am sympathetic--is fundamentally about raising money for itself. (We were instructed when asked about the breakdown of our funds to show a deceptive pie chart that listed our commissions under "education" thus allowing them to claim that the organization only keeps a small % of the money).

Wow, someone else did this!  And had a similar reaction to mine!

I canvassed for my state PIRG.  It was terrible.  Their hiring and retention practices were very deceptive - you got fired if you didn't make the quota each week, but they didn't tell you that that would happen, they only told you that you'd be paid less.  We had to work a lot of unpaid overtime.  Dark-skinned male canvassers all got fired almost immediately (suburbanites wouldn't open doors to them, so it was harder for them to make quota), and the supervisors were aware of this, but didn't care beyond "Isn't that a shame?" comments.  Canvassers were sent out alone, no buddy system, because it allowed for more ground to be covered.  I reported being threatened at length with violence by someone who grilled me on my political views for 15 minutes, and the supervisors didn't care, wouldn't even add the guy's address to some sort of "Don't go to this person's house" list for the future.  The turnover - a combination of people leaving voluntarily and being fired for failing to meet quota - was incredible, with a large chunk of canvassers not making it out of their three-day trial period, and maybe one in ten lasting more than a month (I didn't).

I was disgusted that a left-wing org (or any other, but there was a hypocrisy factor here) would treat its workers that way.  I will not donate money to the PIRGs, though I am always friendly to the canvassers.  If I have time, I explain to them WHY I won't donate.
Senior member
Posts: 402

« Reply #79 on: April 26, 2012, 2:13:39 pm »

Our regular child and pet sitter started for us when she was 12, I think.  She is the daughter of a friend (a single mom grad student with 3 kids, so we knew the money would be welcome), so we knew each other and she had been to our house before.  She is a very reliable and trustworthy young lady.  Most 12 year olds I wouldn't be so sure about. 

My parents owned a small company, so all of us worked for them for our first jobs.  First we helped clean the office on weekends.  Later on my brother helped in the warehouse, I did mailings and data entry on the super high-tech Vector minicomputer, and my sister answered the phones.  Once or twice I put on a power suit, complete with 80's-era floppy silk bow tie, and helped my dad give sales presentations. 

Later on I discovered that when you apply for a job, you can't list your parents as references, so experience working at their company counts for nothing. 
shakin' it since 2007 and only a
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 4,021

« Reply #80 on: April 26, 2012, 2:28:27 pm »

Of course babysitting, which I seem to recall I began doing at a young age (10? 11? maybe 12?) as was the norm in the early 80s. My first paycheck job was at Burger King the summer after my junior year in high school. I started at minimum wage (which was $3.35 at the time, dating myself again) and got a few raises in the few months I worked there. I also got asked out by the skeevy night manager as I was a cute young thing who seemed like the adventurous type (I suppose I was but I was also extremely lucky that I avoided any serious problems with this guy).

After that, I became a retail queen through the rest of high school and college - a book store (awesome!), candy store (still kind of awesome), a shoe store (decidedly less awesome), with some cater-waitering thrown in. I also (briefly) worked telemarketing until I quit based on a newly imposed "dress code" that was clearly a response to my hippie wardrobe. Since we worked after hours and out of sight of any potential customers, I didn't see a need to dress professionally (and for that job, I still don't see the need).

The best non-academic job I had was working at an answering service/alarm company, not because the job was great (though it wasn't bad), but because I worked with excellent people and this is where I really learned to type as we had to transcribe messages as people said them. I imagine my typing skills would have improved anyway with the advent of grad-school-in-the-humanities papers and all, but it was nice to develop these skills in a practical way and then have them set when I later needed them.

where's the bourbon?
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 4,986

LIFO. Enough said.

« Reply #81 on: April 27, 2012, 1:50:04 am »

Oh, yeah, Oldadjunct, the smell never leaves your memory. That's true.

Also you can never look at a plastic product again without thinking about how it's manufactured--who designed the machinery, who operates the machinery, who packages the product, etc.

Don't get me wrong--I'm as avid a consumer as the next American, but every so often I do stop and ponder my paper clips, my clicky-top pen, my knee-high nylons, my dishwashing sponges, those damned plastic grocery bags, Post-Its, laptops, i-Pod, automobile, etc.

I love that show How It's Made, by the way. Endlessly fascinating, whether the product emerges from an automated manufacturing process or whether it's hand-crafted.

Sure enough.  We did have the fun of playing "Frisbee" with the lids, practicing arching them into the injection molding machines to cause a shut down.  But then we got shifted to the plastic glass machines (think those ubiquitous little wine "glasses" at faculty receptions.  Each stack of 25 required manually pulling over each stack the plastic condom package.  No way to do that without scrapping your cuticles against 25 bumpy lips time after time after time after time after time after time after.... for eight hours.

Ah, but the next summer I moved to a factory that lacquered lipstick lids. Think endless strands of spikes/spindles racing past as women pulled the caps off with one hand and with another put them on as the stream came out of and into the lacquer machines.  That was women's work.  My job was to bring the empty and remove the full boxes while making sure the machines were full of lacquer.

Ahhhhhh, I love the smell of lacquer and degreaser in the morning!

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan

OMG!  My partner gave me hu!  What do I do to get rid of hu?
New member
Posts: 3

« Reply #82 on: April 27, 2012, 10:31:13 am »

Other than mowing the grass for the widow next door, my first paying job was as a telephone operator. This was back in the days before automation, and we had to use one cord to plug into an incoming call (and say "operator"), use a different plug to make the outgoing call, and use a timer and punch card so the caller could be billed for long-distance calls. We had to make sure we paid attention when the call ended so we could time the call out. I could handle a full board of six calls at once. Some of the phone company oldtimers could run two boards at a time, with 12 calls going on concurrently.
Senior member
Posts: 702

Phlogiston Researcher.

« Reply #83 on: April 27, 2012, 11:33:54 am »

My first job was in an ice cream store. Every so often I smell that metallic freezer-burn-and-spilled-milk scent somewhere and it zooms me right back in time.

In the summer, it was a lot of fun. In the winter, it was intensely depressing.
Posts: 181

« Reply #84 on: April 27, 2012, 12:34:12 pm »

My first job was as a soccer ref in high school for u-12 games. I tried to stay away from the older kids' games because the parents would yell at you if they thought you missed a call. Some of them would actually run the line with me.
My worst job was the three days I spent as a temp for the emergency room CT scanner.  They asked me to help move a patient with active tuberculosis onto the scanner table without giving me a facemask.  My aunt went to pick up my paycheck because I refused to go back.
Junior member
Posts: 88

« Reply #85 on: April 27, 2012, 10:08:41 pm »

after babysitting...

assistant bookkeeper in a small firm (mostly filing, typing labels, writing 'gentle reminders' regarding overdue accounts)

adhesive department in a nameplate factory (examining the tiny plastic plates that go on printers and the like and, if the ink was neither too light nor too heavy, putting adhesive tape on the backs...6:30am to 3pm)

Self-identified staunchly dowdy
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 1,134

I prefer the chocolates

« Reply #86 on: June 27, 2012, 10:53:27 am »

My, that was a long time ago. When I was 15 I worked in the dining hall of a summer camp. The good part was you got to live at camp all summer. The bad part was that one of the other workers became my first <uhm> serious boyfriend, if you know what I mean, and resulted in such a massive case of systemic poison ivy that I had to be taken to a doctor for a cortisone injection.

The summer after I graduated from high school I was a waitress at a Howard Johnson's for about a month. I was doing OK until they hired an incredibly sexy new waitress (I even remember her name - Bernadette) who made major mistakes and blamed them on whoever was working with her. Like setting the metal cream pitcher on the hot ring for coffee pots. I got canned after a few of those incidents - what red-blooded male manager would choose the flat-chested mouse over Ms. Zaftig? Interestingly, the manager told me when he let me go I should work in a lab. That was my first job after graduating from college. Turns out, I'm not good at that, either.

I just don't have time for reality right now.
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 1,423

« Reply #87 on: June 27, 2012, 12:00:18 pm »

I was an extra in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I was thirteen-going-on fourteen, so I needed to get a work permit, which I then used to land a gig at an all-dude telemarketing outfit that needed a soothing female voice to cold call women and ask them about their preferences for skivvies.

It's been a brilliant career.
Senior member
Posts: 573

« Reply #88 on: June 27, 2012, 8:49:35 pm »

Oh yeah, the babysitting. And the snow shoveling.
But my first "real" job was making The Body Shop gift baskets (mostly for Christmas) in the warehouse operated by one of the local franchisees (who at the time had three stores). I can still stretch plastic wrap over a bowl or other thing like no one's business.
Pages: 1 ... 4 5 [6]
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.