As you may know if you looked at my “About” section, I’m a journalist. But I had a slew of jobs prior to becoming a journalist that had nothing to do with journalism. Let’s go over ’em!
Babysitter, One Time and One Time Only
Before having any “official” employment, the first time I recall being paid by someone other than my parents to do something was a babysitting gig. Now, I don’t remember off-hand how this even came to be, but somewhere near us, I babysat a boy and a girl. I believe the boy was probably nine-years-old, and the girl was maybe five, at most? I would have been about 14 or early on at age 15. It was a terrible experience. I hated it. The nine-year-old kept talking about a cheese ball that was going to come and destroy the world, his nose would bleed randomly, and he was mean and abusive to his little sister. I had no idea how to properly deal with any of that. The sister also kept imploring me to read her a scary story before bed. Alas, I never babysat in an official (meaning I was paid by strangers) capacity again.
The Original Pancake House: Busboy
My first official job started when I was a 15-year-old in 2005 as a busboy at the local Original Pancake House. My mom was a waitress, and my brother was already working as a busboy, so it was an easy foot in the door of my first employment opportunity. The job was simple enough: When a table opens up, take the container to the table, put the dishes in the container, and leave. Or, if you were the other busboy, you’d be the one bringing the rag, two coffee mugs and two sets of silverware (or double or triple that depending on the table size) to clean the table off after the other guy clears the dishes. Or, if you were working solo, you’d do both. I would end up having that job for nearly 10 years, and for the most part, continuously. I got comfortable with it, got to work with a lot of my friends, met my first girlfriend there, and it was fun having quick cash, especially early on as a 15-year-old and through high school. Alas, I should have been mindful of saving my money during that period, but that’s for another blog post.
Home Depot: Associate (Uh, Cart Collector)
Or whatever they called it. One of the first gigs I remember trying post-Pancake House (or when I was trying to transition beyond the Pancake House) was as an associate pushing carts, helping people load their vehicles and take general customer inquiries at the local Home Depot. I spent, what, three weeks being trained on the position (paid training, too!)? And then after about two days of doing the actual job, I quit. The customer inquiry part was a big no-no. I didn’t like it, and none of the other associates helped me. And when it came to loading vehicles, I remember once loading a big roll of carpet by myself, and that wasn’t easy. But, again, it was mostly the customer aspect. I’m not big on jobs that require customer interaction. I feel bad about “ghosting” it, but, hey.
Springdale Ice Cream and Beverage: Associate (Uh, Can-Watcher, Broom-Pusher)
I spent about six months working at Springdale Ice Cream and Beverage working 12-hour shifts. At Springdale Ice Cream and Beverage, they package the ice cream and bottle the soda for the grocery chain Kroger. Most of my job was either watching cans go by on a conveyor belt for 12-hours, and making sure none fell over, or when the bosses didn’t have anything for us to do, sweeping and cleaning the conveyor belts. I hated the 12-hour shifts, particularly on the night shift (11 p.m. to 11 a.m.), and quit. At least, this time I didn’t ghost it.
Daylight Donuts: Donuts-maker
I literally did it for one early morning. I didn’t like it, and as the theme suggests so far, quit. I didn’t even bother to collect my paycheck from that shift. I also was biting off more than I could chew because I did an overnight shift, and then did my normal 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift at the Pancake House. Never again. But fresh donuts were yummy!
It was during this stretch I was intermittently returning to the Pancake House, unable to find a better replacement.
I did this one time somewhere in this period to try to make extra cash on the side. If you’ve not heard of Rover, it’s an online app where people can connect with other people for dog services of one kind or another. In this case, a family paid me to essentially stay at their house for three days while I watched their dog. They were quite open, too. “Hey, you can sleep in our bed, and here’s how to work the Xbox,” kinda thing. I don’t remember why, but for some reason, this was another case of one-and-done.
AVI Foodsystems: Vending Machine Associate, Truck Driver, and Warehouse Associate
I finally found my replacement for the Pancake House in the form of, yes, another job I was able to secure because of my parents. In this case, my dad was the manager at the local AVI branch (AVI is a vending machine company; they are the ones who stock ’em). I was hired on as a vending machine associate initially, I believe, where I was tasked with filling the vending machines with candy, soda and chips. In fact, I was doing this at the same time I was attending Miami University in Ohio, and filling the machines at the university. I also did the vending machines at Kings Island amusement park, which, it was weird to be at Kings Island at night when it was virtually empty. Once again, I was biting off a lot, as I was working there full 40-hours, working the student-newspaper, and going to college full-time. Alas, that’s also a theme of mine.
Nonetheless, I also began driving a box truck, and delivering school lunches twice a week to a school in downtown Cincinnati. I enjoyed that quite a bit. It gave me a chance to get out of the warehouse and do my own thing, and I made good friends with the cafeteria manager. She was a bad-ass older woman. I also was tasked with warehouse duties, where I would help Ray, a 70-something curmudgeon (but a helluva guy that took a liking to me for some reason), load pop onto pallets for other drivers. When not doing that, I would also load pallets of candy and chips. And when not doing that, twice a week, I would participate in the food line, where we load up trays of cold items for the vending machines. That was kind of the thing with that gig is, they knew they could just keep throwing every little odd task at me, and I would do it. But it was good, relatively easy, decently-paying work for quite a few years until I was able to get into journalism. But as I said, juggling it with school and student journalism was rough. My sleep habits were officially killed during this period.
Much like in school (and this is worthy of its own blog post, to be honest), I’ve struggled with finding jobs that are suitable to me in terms of being comfortable. When you’re limiting your job search to jobs that don’t have much customer interaction, it’s hard to find something that works. And I know because of that damn near phobia of mine, I’ve not been the most professional in the past (ghosting a couple of jobs). I’m not particularly proud of that, but my fear of those situations I was in trumped any concern of professionalism, sad to say.
But, I guess it worked out. I made it into journalism. I still struggle with the customer interaction part of journalism (yes, there’s answering the phones, and interacting with people even beyond the reporting of stories). Fortunately, I work around it better nowadays, I like to think. (My backlog of voicemails might argue otherwise …)
Anyhow, that’s a rundown of my job history. I don’t think I’m leaving any non-journalism jobs out.
What jobs have you had, and what job are you currently at?