You know, I didn’t start out with the glamorous and exciting job I have now. I had to work my way up and pay my dues like everyone else. When I was 15 years old, I landed my first job, calling families and telling them about the joys of Dutterer’s Frozen Food service, which would stock your freezer with all the nutritious and delicious foods you love to feed your family. Once the prospect was intrigued, I was supposed to set an appointment for a sales rep to visit and review all the benefits of automatically stocked frozen foods. It was kind of fun to pretend I was jazzed up about quality frozen foods.
Eventually I needed to spread my wings and try something more challenging, so I went to work as a telemarketer for JC Penney. I was the friendly voice that called and reminded you to renew the maintenance contract on your refrigerator or a/c unit or television. It was ironic to be touting the quality of JC Penney products while also convincing people that they needed a maintenance contract because the product was probably going to die immediately. I stuck it out there until I left for college.
The summer after my freshman year of college I went to work as a messenger for a downtown law firm. Everything was going well until I passed out one day from heat exhaustion or something. They made a huge fuss over me and insisted that I stay in the nice air conditioned office the rest of the summer while some other poor slob had to run the streets of DC. The rest of my summer was spent as a relief receptionist (where I dropped or got confused about countless calls), helping the secretaries send things via Telex (which I also screwed up at every turn), and fetching frozen yogurt (the latest thing) for everyone from the little deli in the building.
In the evening we went to fancy Georgetown bars where the firm bought us all expensive drinks. This was my first taste of K Street Law Firm Living. Despite the many things I screwed up during my first run, they invited me to come back and work over winter break, which consisted mostly of boozy office parties.
I don’t remember what happened the following summer, but I guess the firm found some other 19 year old to drop calls and pick-up frozen yogurt. I found myself taking a rigorous arithmetic exam that landed me a job at a Fotomat booth. Remember? The little glass box smack in the middle of a parking lot where customers pulled up to leave film to be developed, pick up their pictures, and buy camera accessories. If I was ever going to die of boredom, it would have been there.
After my wretched summer at Fotomat, I was relieved to go back to an office job the following year. My brother Barry was working at Media General (now Cox Communications), and landed me a job as…well nothing specific. Mostly I was his personal assistant/coffee fetcher.
I did have one specific responsibility. There was a big new thing on the horizon…pay per view movies. Each evening Media General offered 3 or 4 movies “on demand”. Back then there was a huge console (it looked like The Bridge on Star Trek) where I had to punch in each customer’s account number, and the code for which movie they wanted. The movies started at 8 each evening, and by 7:59 I was punching in numbers like crazy so customers wouldn’t miss the beginning of the movie. I was right there on the brink of history.
So many more truly odd jobs. Part II coming soon to a blog near you…