Cleaned the morgue at a local hospital, second shift. Somehow, I think it prepared me for law school.
One summer job I had was sorting buttons for a fabrics and notions company. This seemed like it could be kind of visually interesting. It wasn’t. Every morning a true mountain of those little white buttons on men’s dress shirts would be poured onto my table and I had to sort them by size. Until that job, I had no idea that there are possibly 7 different sizes of those little buttons used on one dress shirt.
My first job was as a caddy at Montclair (NJ) Golf Club [https://www.montclairgolfclub.org]. It was the summer after my 14th birthday – just old enough for working papers – and I joined some high school golf team buddies who had been caddying there.
As a first-year “B” caddy, I spent a lot of time waiting in the caddy shack as the older experienced “A” caddies were given golfers, and I was sent out lots of times to “shag” balls – think playing outfield with golf balls flying at you. I made $10 for my first caddying round of golf, which was pretty good at the time when other classmates were making 85 cents per hour. A benefit of being a caddy was being able to play golf and use the club pool on Mondays for free!
I returned for two more summers, becoming an “A” caddy the second year. As an “A” caddy, carrying clubs for 18 holes earned me $20 per bag plus tips for about 4 hours of physical work. My best weekend ever netted me almost $250, but there is a side story here.
On that Sunday, I was ready to head home after caddying two rounds with two bags each, and over $100 in my pocket for the one day. The Starter pulled me aside and asked me to stay and “do a special” – typically a VIP – and drive a cart for two golfers rather than walk. The man who rode in the cart with me for 9 holes was 75 year old Eddie Rickenbacker – WWI Ace, Medal of Honor recipient and founder of Eastern Airlines. The second golfer, who walked and paid me, was Jon Lindbergh – yes, son of Charles Lindbergh. The time spent with them and the conversation created a great memorable experience.
Hmm, I don’t think I’ve had anything as interesting as the ones I’ve read here so far. The only one that can even approach this thread is when I was the head coach for a high school tennis varsity team. . Maybe when I was a research assistant to two professors who were the chairs of different university departments doing a multidisciplinary creative writing course but I think that’s also a pretty run-of-the-mill job.
I currently manage a Leather Bar. Aside from the obvious, it’s just like any other job, but occasionally I’ll have friends who visit me at work and someone will walk by in a jockstrap and you think… oh yeah, this isn’t what most people think of as a standard work night.
I have had a variety of odd jobs in my life. I got a job taking nails out of a pile of lumber in the basement of a bath house in San Francisco in the late '70s. it was the only sexual bath house that was really for everybody. The managers liked the way I pulled nails out of the lumber so the carpenter could reuse them so they asked me to take some locks apart and clean them. Then I got a job as janitor, desk clerk and snack bar attendant at the bathhouse. My favorite hours were midnight until 8 am. The most interesting people came in then. I also worked on a fish processing barge in Togiak Bay Alaska during herring season. I helped my roommate clean out the spiral freezer one day, vacuuming out fish parts from the filter so it could drain again. I worked in an adult bookstore in Anchorage after that. I learned a lot about human nature working there. A few years later I became a colonic hydrotherapist. Its a dirty job but someone has to do it. I worked in 3 different clinics, it paid my living expenses through Naturopathic medical school, and got me into my first clinic when I graduated. I learned even more about working with people who are not always well doing that. I have also worked with children from babies through high school students in several states. Life is what you make it.
Well, it was a volunteer job, not a paying one, but in the early 1990s I helped install a 1928 theater pipe organ in a 1926 movie palace. The project took 3 1/2 years. In the process I learned a lot about pipe organs and got to use some of my electronics knowledge wiring the instrument.
Below you can see the organ console in the center of the orchestra pit. The pipes are behind the grilles on either side of the proscenium.
These photos were taken over 20 years ago. The theater itself has undergone some restoration since.
OMG! That must’ve been crazy-making!
I was a part-time burrito roller for a food company in Salt Lake City. One day the burritos were coming down the line really fast and we couldn’t keep up with the folding. I had been reading Naval history and shouted out, “Damn the burritos and full speed ahead!” Well, either they never heard of Admiral Farragut or my swearing shocked the sweet women of the burrito line into speechless ness. Nobody applauded my play on words.
I just have to say I love this thread and these jobs (and lives!) are fascinating!
I was a self-employed printer the summer I was 15, some 45 years ago. My dad, an eternal hobbyist, had a small hand-operated printing press, and I used it to make a few bucks printing letterhead and business cards for the neighbors. I learned a bit about typesetting and a lot about the courage and drive you need to run your own business (the following summer I opted to work as a receptionist).
psundik, I remember the days of waxed copy. We were still using it at a small-town newspaper in the mid-1980s. The ability to reposition or change single words and even single bits of punctuation was wonderful (sigh). We did have air-conditioning, though. In the summer in Arkansas, the copy would surely have melted off the page otherwise. And my bosses weren’t really mean – just stupid (that’s a whole nother story).
But trying to sell encyclopedias door-to-door was far worse. I think I lasted a week (and never sold anything).
Oh, thank you so much for sharing your story.
Times sure have changed.
I do not think today’s young people even know what encyclopedias are.
Many students today do not learn cursive or phonics or telephone etiquette…or how to read a real clock. Nothing lasts forever.
I do not think they would like these jobs. Life is now fast and virtual. I do not mind either of those, but I am glad I learned the other basics.
I worked at Dell Computer during the Y2K debacle. Luckily, it was a dud and very few people called in with issues with their computers.
After that, I worked at a semiconductor research and development consortium. It was comprised of many chip companies such as Intel, AMD, Texas Instruments, Samsung, Taiwan Semiconductor, Phillips, and others. The companies would send their engineers to work together on a roadmap of which they would all follow so as not to make computer chips that were incompatible with everyone else’s. It was a great place to work, but I had an opportunity to make better money elsewhere and out of the industry so I took it. I did miss that environment though because we would work on technology that the public wouldn’t see until 7 years down the line.
I worked for a year as the lab tech in a small textile testing facility and, circa 2002, developed the standard lab method for determining fiber content of socks. You may not realize there are up to 7 different “parts” in a sock (top/upper cuff <where extra elastic/spandex is>, cuff <may also have extra spandex, but not as much as top of cuff>, body, upper/instep, sole, heel, toe) that must be separated out, their % weight of total sock determined, each part tested for fiber content, and then compiled into total fiber content call-out listed on label/tag. My associate and I analyzed over 150 different socks in a 2-month period.
For two summers, I think 9-10th grades, I worked picking tobacco. The Pioneer Valley at the time was famous for its tent (or shade) tobacco, as well as field tobacco – used for cigar wrappers. It was very dirty work and us local boys typically just did enough to make the daily quota. However, boys were shipped up from West Virginia and they worked extremely hard to surpass quota and make extra money – which was needed to support their families, I later realized as I got older. In the barn where the tobacco leaves were put up and dried, the girls worked - some local, but mostly from Florida (have no idea why from FLA). It was many of my generation’s first paying job (besides babysitting and lawn-mowing) and very hot, dirty work – we’d get home and have to be hosed off outside. Tobacco barns still dot the Pioneer Valley, but very few tobacco fields now.
I used to have a job at a Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania resort where I went around the property shooting rats that lived in the various rock walls on the golf courses and beside the villas. Seriously, they gave me a .22, a box of bullets, and told me to blast the hell outta rats. No gun safety training, no clearing the guests out of that area. I’d set up sniper style and wait for them to poke their fetid heads out of their holes, then BLAM. It was the 70’s so I was stoned most of the time. Nothing bad could have happened, right?
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In high school, I had a summer job at the Federal Reserve Bank, and all we did was count $1 bills…actually weighed them with old school balance scales like you used in chemistry class. Hundreds of packs of 100 $1 dollar bills every day.
My first job was the oddest I’ve ever had. My dad installed septic systems and at the ripe age of 10 my job was to go into the tanks to check the float switches. So, 10 years old, spelunking into dark tanks stinking of raw sewage. Fortunately my dad emptied the tanks before sending me down. Taught me a lot. Mainly that things we take for granted–like flushing the toilet–rely on things that are often hidden from view, buried underground. And that when those systems break down, some unlucky punk has to get his hands dirty to get them back up and running again. Was fun in hindsight.
I’ve had probably 60 jobs since I stated baby sitting @ age 10 for .50 per hour & now am owner of interior plantscaping company. One extremely outdated one was to drive around to all of the local more high end hotels & take a picture of the daily marquee of events. Then I’d call it in to my boss & she sold one hotel’s info to all the rest in order for them to compete for that meeting/event next time.
The topper for me was not myself but a girlfriend back in the late 1970’s, she was a nursing student & her job was to teach other medical students how to do gynecological exams…on herself!!! I am serious!