Saturday, April 26, 2008

Weird Work

Every time I click on the world map on the homepage of this blog, I see a new red dot! It's very cool to think about people in far-off lands reading this blog...either on purpose or by mistake. It's also very strange to see ads for women in lingerie who are available to keep you company on the phone. Just in case you were wondering, I do not get paid for these advertisements for phone sex at 99 cents a minute. I simply endure them in return for access to the world mapping feature. I'd prefer tacky images of scantily-clad men but nobody asked me.

I wonder what it would be like to be a phone sex worker? (If anyone has ever had this job, I would LOVE to hear about it.) I'm not applying or anything, I'm just curious. I really enjoyed the book Working, by Studs Terkel. I think I read it in high school (one of the few pieces of required reading that made it through my pot-smoking haze). The author interviews people in all kinds of jobs from an office worker to a prostitute. I love hearing about different jobs, particular ones that I have never done.

What's your weirdest job? Write me and tell me all about it or submit a comment so everyone can read it. I'll get you started.

Lazy Julie's Weird Job #1 (I have many): During my junior year in college, I was a reader for a blind attorney. This may not sound weird on the surface but this lawyer was a bit strange and I had two other jobs at the time. In addition to a full class load and reading for the attorney 3 hours per day, I also waitressed at night and worked at the school paper during the day. I'm not positive, but I think there may have been some overlap with job #4 as an intern at WBUR that later turned into a paying gig.

Needless to say (so why am I saying it??!!!), I was very busy and very tired. Sitting in a quiet office, reading boring legal cases out loud in the afternoon was my down time. Except sometimes I fell asleep. I would wake up when the attorney said, "What?" and I realized I had read something wrong or perhaps stopped reading altogether.

Another weird part of the job was that I had to read newspaper personal ads out loud to her because she was looking for a date. She did not tell her prospects in advance that she was blind. When I suggested this might be important information, she was very defensive. She said that her blindness was not a defining characteristic. My response was, "The fact that I have dark brown hair is not a defining characteristic about me but I would probably mention it as an identifying feature if I was meeting a stranger for the first time."

Weird Job #2: I was a security guard for one day, I think during my freshman or sophomore year in college. I lived in a different city that did not have the best public transportation in the world and I did not own a car at the time. The job (probably one of two or three that I had at the time to pay for college, my apartment, etc.) was working from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, "guarding" an empty insurance company. I was issued a uniform that included a little X neck tie, a hat, and a badge. I looked like a meter maid.

On my first day of work, I went out to the bus stop at some ungodly hour in the morning where I thought I would take a bus to the downtown office building. Already waiting at the bus stop was a group of Latino workers. Yo hablo un poquito de Espanol and I managed to learn that there was no bus until 7:00 a.m. on the weekends and the men were getting picked up by a friend who would also give me a ride.

So, I arrived at work in a pickup truck full of Latino men who seemed surprised and confused by my presence, in a security guard uniform with the geeky hat, tie, and badge stuffed in my napsack. Much to my chagrin, the security guard who was training me told me that I had to be in full uniform at all times. I thought he was joking but quickly realized he wasn't smiling when I laughed and said, "Ya right!" My first and last day at this job re-energized my commitment to getting a college education that MIGHT qualify me for better jobs in the future. For 8 long hours, I sat in a tiny security office watching a monitor when workaholic insurance company employees beeped their car horns and held up their IDs to get into the garage on the weekend. We're talking MAYBE 2 cars per hour. I also had to look through a mugshot book of people who I should not let into the building, mostly the former boyfriends and husbands of domestic violence victims who worked there.

Weird Job #3: I gathered old newspapers for an elderly neighbor and tied them with string. Oh wait! That was ARTHUR!

That's enough out of me. Tell me about your weird jobs.

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