I overheard someone talking about a hashtag that was floating around in social media that encouraged people to talk about their first seven jobs. I was immediately intrigued. First of all, what an interesting world we live in now, where it’s a safe bet that most people have had seven jobs. In the past, you might apprentice in a certain job and then do that work until you dropped dead. I don’t know if that would be comforting or stultifying.

But I think you can learn a lot about a person by hearing what their first seven jobs were. How old were they when they started working? How long did they keep various types of jobs? I think it would be interesting to hear from older professionals in particular. Your pediatrician wasn’t always a doctor, you know. Maybe she washed cars in high school.

I’ve had 23 jobs in my life. I don’t know if that’s a lot, or about average. I just know that it was necessary. Some I liked, some I hated. Each one taught me a great deal. I’m glad to say that now that I’m a bridgetender, I’m doing something I truly love.

So, without further ado, here are my first seven jobs:

1.     At the age of 10, I was self-employed. I grew houseplants and sold them at the flea market. I did this for several years, and this allowed me to buy school clothes. I am also proud to say that I treated my mother and my sister to a trip to Disney World. We lived nearby, so it drove me crazy that we couldn’t afford to go. But this will give you an idea of how long ago that was: I only had to raise $20 to get the three of us in. I remember counting it all out in quarters.

2.     The summer I was 15, I worked in the Youth Conservation Corps, doing construction work. We paved pathways, built nature trails, rehabbed a swimming hole, and built a picnic shelter and a barn among other things. I came home brown as a berry for the first and only time in my life, with biceps that would make Michelle Obama proud, and I had a newfound confidence in my ability to work with my hands.

3.     The next summer I worked on an assembly line, making prepackaged school lunches. I’m pretty sure that was the last job I ever had that required I remain on my feet for 8 hours a day. I don’t know how people do it.  That’s where I learned that if you touch enough peaches in the course of a shift, the fuzz burrows under your skin and makes you bleed, and the foil wrappers on juice bottles make you bleed even more. (And yes, we were wearing gloves, but they didn’t protect our wrists.)

4.     Next I was a cook and a cashier at a short-lived game room and restaurant called Go Bananas. I’d go home and still hear the video games in my head, and I wouldn’t have thought it was possible, but for a while there it made me sick of ice cream. (Scooping ice cream doesn’t do good things to your wrists, either.)

5.     Then I was a bilingual cashier at a hotel restaurant. I got by with my high school Spanish. But I had been hired when the manager was away, and when he got back, he called me into his office and quizzed me. I was so intimidated I couldn’t speak English, let alone Spanish, and he fired me on the spot. That was a new feeling. I didn’t like the polyester brown uniform they made me wear anyway, so I was a little relieved.

6.     Next I was a cashier at a campground. That was kind of fun. I liked meeting the people who would come in from all over the country. And believe it or not, I enjoyed stocking the grocery shelves. I love being organized. (Which kind of makes me wonder exactly when I lost all control of my living space, but that’s a subject for another blog entry.)

7.     Then I went away to college and worked in the cafeteria. I got sweaty and greasy every day, and then had a class to go to directly afterward, so people refused to sit next to me. But it helped pay for school. I had to transfer out of there when the 40 year old cook got angry because I refused to date him. He advanced on me in a rage and I threw an ice cream scoop at him and ran for my life. He remained employed, which made lunch and dinner time kind of awkward, but at least I then got to work in the secretary’s office, and people would sit next to me in class again.

So there you have it: The beginnings of a blogger. What were your first seven jobs?

child labor