Monday, September 5, 2016

For Labor Day, a History of My Labors

Along with a list of every place he had lived during his life, my paternal grandfather created a list of all the jobs he had held.  Other than because he might have had some obsessive tendencies, I don't know why he made either list.  But his list of jobs inspired me to try to create a similar list for myself.  Labor Day seems to be the perfect time for it.  This is a list only of my paid positions; volunteer work will have to wait for another day,

babysitting, ~1973–1975:  Like many teenagers, I did some babysitting for neighbors.

general assistant, stamp and coin store, ~1977–1978:  The aforementioned grandfather had a store in Niceville where he sold postage stamps (as in philately), coins, and rubber stamps (for addresses, "PAID", etc.).  I did some sales and also made rubber stamps, which was with hot lead at the time.  Neither I nor my father was sure of the name of the store, but as usual my brother bailed me out:  It was Sellers Stamp Shop (very original, I know).

Overseas Studies Department, USC, 1979–1983:  The first "real" job I had was a work-study position when I started college.  I worked for Overseas Studies during all four of my undergraduate years.

dorm cafeteria, 1981–1983, USC:  During my junior year I added a job in the cafeteria, where I worked through the summer after I graduated.  Working on the Saturday breakfast shift is when I learned that Mountain Dew has caffeine in it.

fundraising department, USC, ~1983?:  For a very short time, I worked part time in a fundraising department at USC.  I didn't like it and it didn't like me, and we parted ways very quickly.

Urban Planning, USC, 1983:  The first full-time job I had was immediately after I graduated.  Urban Planning was not yet part of the School of Public Policy, which didn't exist.  This job is where I learned how to use the WordStar word processing program, with a flip-book self-paced tutorial.

Industrial and Systems Engineering, USC, 1984–~1986:  I didn't stay long in Urban Planning because a more attractive position became available in ISE.  This department had a great group of professors, including three from Turkey, a Persian, a Kiwi, and "Gerry Squared."  For a while we had a graduate student with a football scholarship in the department.  The first time I met a native Spanish speaker of Chinese ancestry was while working here.

French and Italian, USC, ~1986–1987:  Moving from department to department is not uncommon at big universities, and my next stop was French and Italian, where I had been an undergrad student.  The new department head, whose views could be rather parochial at times, thought it was my obligation to make coffee for his personal meetings — until he discovered how badly I could make coffee.

Classics, USC, 1987:  One thing I remember having to do in this department was get the computer working again (desktop computers were just coming into departments around this time), because the previous administrative assistant had actually reformatted her C drive, and everything was lost.

Marine Biology, USC, 1988–1989:  I believe this was my last position at USC.  I learned a lot about the scientists' trips to the Antarctic.

kosher cook, USC Hillel, 1988–1989:  While I was working on campus, I also had a part-time job during the academic year as a kosher cook at the USC Hillel.  Highlights of my time there included meeting Leonard Nimoy and making more than 500 latkes during the week of Chanukah.

sous chef, Trumps, 1989:  During the summer of 1989 I was a sous chef at Trumps, a very trendy California cuisine restaurant of the time.  One of the items on the menu was a quesadilla made with green grapes and Brie cheese (which most of us in the kitchen deplored).

housekeeper/nanny/cook, 1989–1990:  During the month of August 1989, all three of my housemates left (I had to kick out two of them, the first to force her to take care of her mental illness and the second because she assaulted the third housemate; the third left soon after being attacked), so I had to find a new place to live.  I moved to the San Francisco Bay area because I found an unpaid position as a housekeeper/nanny/cook.  At least I was being fed.

in-home aide, SSI, 1990:  Although I was being fed at my housekeeper position, I did need some income because I had student loan payments due.  I became an in-home aide for a woman with cystic fibrosis.  I did her shopping and errands and cooked very bland meals for her.

assistant production manager, Chessex, 1990–1994:  The income from 10 hours a week through SSI was not adequate, so I had to find a full-time job.  Lucky for me, someone referred me to Chessex Games, which was looking for an assistant production manager.  Here I learned how to place dice into plastic containers just so and how to roll game mats so they fit into plastic bags.  I also did all the editing and layout on our role-playing products.

editrix, convention schnook, assistant bookkeeper, Chaosium, 1994–1997:  I had been checking with a friend at Chaosium off and on, waiting for a position to open up.  When it did, I came right over.  I greatly enjoyed working as an editor on role-playing games and fiction books.  This is one of the few companies I know of that had a designated pot-smoking area.

sales, Lacis, 1994–1995:  While I was working at Chaosium, Lacis, a fantastic store that carries vintage clothing and textiles, advertised for a part-time position.  I worked there to be around all the cool items and for the benefit of the employee discount.

secretary, Girl Scouts, 1997–1998:  After some poor choices related to collectible card games, Chaosium had to lay off some staff, including me.  I worked for a few months at the administrative office of the Girl Scouts.  It was only a temp position, which gave me great incentive to look for a permanent job.

publications coordinator, junior Webmaster, Seismological Society of America, 1998–2006:  I had applied for this position once and didn't get it, but it was relisted a few months later.  I eventually discovered that the first person hired had been there but a very short time and abruptly left.  I learned a lot about seismology and earthquakes while copyediting one of the society's scientific journals, and met many interesting seismologists and geologists.

mystery guest, ~1999–2000?:  For about a year I was a mystery guest for a national company, as a paid employee.  I visited store locations and checked service and product standards.  Mystery shopping is interesting, but you need to be completely objective in your observations.

transcriptionist, Perfect Pages, 2006–2007:  After leaving the Seismological Society I worked for a year and a half typing transcriptions of audio and video.  About a third was from television programs, a third from advertising and marketing materials, and a third from oral histories recorded by Kaiser Permanente as it tried to capture memories of people who had worked there in its early years.

office manager, BlueSkies for Children, 2008–2010:  This is an upscale daycare in a poorer part of Oakland, for families with two professional parents who both have work they are dedicated to but they want to have children also.  The job title was "office manager", but it was really being a door guard, to make sure the correct people brought the children in and picked them up.

editor, indexer, translator, Sellers Editorial Services, 1990–~2011:  Mostly I'm an editor, but I also do indexing and translation.  Most of the work has been in the adventure gaming industry (think Dungeons & Dragons and games of that ilk).  I even won a few awards for editing.

genealogy teacher and coordinator, Alternatives in Action, 2012–2013:  For one semester I taught a genealogy class at a local high school.  The rest of the time I helped introduce youth in a juvenile detention program to family history.

genealogist, Ancestral Discoveries, 2005–present:  Now I'm obsessed with genealogy.  I do research, teach classes, write this blog, and spend an inordinate amount of time volunteering.  At least I enjoy what I do!

train operator, BART, 2012–2014 (kind of –present):  I began training to be a train operator in February 2012.  Unfortunately, I suffered two injuries while working and went out on worker compensation disability in June 2014, and I'm still out.  I really enjoyed working as a train operator.  I wish I could go back, but it isn't going to happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments on this blog will be previewed by the author to prevent spammers and unkind visitors to the site. The blog is open to everyone, particularly those interested in family history and genealogy.