My dream job: Beautiful Oscar-winning actress with slim upper arms who becomes a princess and wears real tiara. Didn't get that job.

My work history reveals a great deal about me, not only in the type of jobs I did, but in how I got them. Let’s flip through my resume to about age 25.

Unpaid Work, A.K.A., Earning my Keep

I never got an allowance, so all chores were part of the deal if I wanted a place at the dinner table and a place to sleep. I never had to buy a single thing for myself until I left home, either. So, all in all, the deal was pretty good. My chores were:

  • Drying the dinner plates (glasses and stemware posed too many hazards for my fumbling fingers)

    And they thought I couldn't handle glasses and knives...

  • Keeping my side of the room tidy (I was Oscar to Lisa’s Felix, so she helped)
  • Watching Lisa while Mom was away at the hospital with Tina (I was 6-9, Lisa was 4-7 and we had no adult supervision).

    Jeez. How much trouble could we get into?

  • Helping my grandfather with outside chores (I was a substandard housecleaner, but I could pick up sticks and, eventually mow a lawn).

    Does this look like any way to spend a Saturday?

Paid Employment

  • Babysitter, once for 3 little boys. I was ill-equipped for the job because boys were foreign creatures to me and I didn’t trust children I didn’t know.

    Nuttin' but trouble, I tell ya.

  • Laborer on Abandoned Cemetaries Beautification Crew. Mom suggested it was time for a “real job.” I was 15 and the Summer Youth Program hired based on need. They must have needed curvaceous girls. It was hot, sweaty work. Rather than abiding by the rules and wearing long pants and boots, I wore shorts and sandals. Nearly everything I earned was spent on doctor bills in a futile attempt to cure the worst case of poison ivy, oak and sumac in recorded medical history.

    I asked the doctor not to take a picture of me until the cortisone cream had a chance to work.

  • Work-Study Girl-Monday-Wednesday-Friday while pursuing my BA in sociology. I was randomly assigned to an Anthropologist upon whom I immediately got a crush. He was not much to look at, but he was a professorand let me enter grades in his grade book. Heady stuff…

    I thought he'd get the hint when I posed on his favorite ancient artifact, but it wasn't meant to be.

  • Hallway Char-Ladyof my apartment building. My landlord liked me. He reduced my rent and allowed me to keep my Old English Sheepdog (the only dog in the building). In return, I cleaned up beer spills and other snarky sticky stuff in he halls once a week. And let him stare at me…

    Yeah, my landlord wished...

  • Summer Research Assistant on a grant studying the health behaviors of old people. Hand-picked as a compulsiveorganized student, I became an expert at accurate data entry using a key-punch machine (they have one in the Smithsonian Archaic Technology Exhibit).

    Sing with me..."Memories, light the corners of my mind. Misty water-color memories, of the way were..."

  • Research Associate on the same grant through my graduate degree. I was the valuable asset that stuck around to analyze all that data that had been entered using a special computer program. Helping to write-up the results of the analysis landed me my first academic publication.
  • Special Research Consultantfor the College after the grant ended. I was such a wiz at data analysis using the computer, I was hired by the Academic VP’s office to help other faculty doing research.

    Need to know if your correlation is significant? I'm on it! (This is not me--you can tell because my dog weighed more than a cat and we only had land-lines back then--but those are the only differences).

  • Assistant Director, Cooperative Education Program. The Consultant job ran out of funding, but a position became available that was totally out of my expertise area. Still, I got the job. I think the Director was totally out of her area of expertise and drank, too.

    The program lasted only a few years. I wonder why...

Each time a job naturally ended (I was never fired), another one was there to replace it.  I was referred, interviewed and offered the job. Small pond, adaptive fish that drank like one?

It would all come crashing down soon enough. I was 25 and aimless drifting stops working around then. At least that was my experience…