November 18, 2020 – You do what you’ve got to do.

I’ve done a lot of things to earn money throughout my lifetime. I think my very first job was babysitting, but I hated it. I did get something from the experience, however. It helped me realize that I don’t like being responsible for other people or other people’s children or being ‘in charge’. I was lousy at it. Maybe being the baby of the family and being the one that was looked after had something to do with that. During the 50+ years I’ve spent on this planet, I have discovered that I’ve often had to do things I’d rather not do, but because of circumstances, I just had to grin and bear it. Before I even graduated high school, I had already had more jobs than you can count on both hands. And since then, I’ve had countless more. Honestly, I think I’ve had more jobs than many adults have had throughout their entire lives. How is that even possible?

As I said, you do what you’ve got to do. Having a job generally means doing something in order to earn money. There is not a timeline necessarily. The duration of a job can be for as long as multiple decades and as short as just a handful of hours. That’s how I’ve been able to do so much in such little time. I did a lot of ‘short stints’ but they added up. As a minor, I often babysat to earn money, I also picked strawberries for twenty-five cents a flat, handed out pamphlets door-to-door, worked at a nursing home feeding patients, scrubbed toilets, did the dishes and also bussed tables at an ice cream parlor, performed ‘hosting duties’ at a Mexican Restaurant, sold ‘pies’ at a pizza joint, cleaned out apartments for elderly people, sold material and the like at a fabric store as well as a few other things. I never stayed with anything very long. I am not one that handles boredom well. I also don’t enjoy anything that lacks creativity. And I’ve never done any one job for greater than 4 years. Whenever I hear of people that have held a job in excess of 30 years, my mind is blown! How do they even do it?

The great thing about having an opportunity to work in different ‘fields’ is that it teaches you what you love, and more importantly, what you absolutely cannot stand doing. I learned very quickly that I did not like scrubbing toilets, but who does? If someone does enjoy that, I think they need to have their head examined. It’s one thing to clean your own toilet, but it’s quite another to clean several that have been used by vast numbers of people that don’t really care about the mess they’ve left behind. But I did it, until another position opened up as a dishwasher and then I hightailed it out of there. Dishwashing isn’t all that great either, to be honest. It’s one of those jobs when you think you’re just about done and then another load comes through the door. It never seems to end. Not only that, it’s dirty, it’s hot, you usually end up getting soaking wet, and you’re stuck in the back all by yourself. It’s really just one step up from cleaning toilets (in my opinion).

One of the things I’ve discovered during my life through trial and error is that I love helping people. I also enjoy organizing. If you can combine the two, that’s about as good as it gets! I actually worked for two different libraries in my twenties and those were two of my favorite jobs. The first one I had to leave because we were in the military and were reassigned to a different base in another country. The second one I chose to leave because the pay was equivalent to what I was paying for childcare. It just didn’t make any sense to work when I was handing over my entire paycheck to the babysitter. Once my kids were old enough that I didn’t need childcare any longer, I tried to get another job at the library I had worked at previously, but by then they had changed the rules so that you had to have your 4-year degree in Library Science in order to qualify for a position. I only had my 2-year degree so that was the end of that. I could have gone back and continued my education, but then I remembered all of the hours I spent shelving books, and I decided it was probably time to try something new. Non-fiction was the worst! That part of the job description I absolutely loathed!

I’ve also done a lot of other things to earn money during my life. Probably the one that left the greatest impression was when I sold my plasma. I had resorted to that because we just couldn’t seem to make ends meet at the time and I had run out of ‘luxury’ items to sell in our home. I think I saw the ad in a newspaper one afternoon and figured I’d give it a try. I was put through a pretty elaborate screening process in order to qualify but once I cleared it, I went ahead and started my very brief career as a plasma ‘seller’. I remember walking in and getting prepped. They had me lay down on a hospital bed and then sterilized my arm thoroughly before inserting a very large needle into my vein. It’s similar to donating blood except it takes quite a while longer and you do get compensation for your trouble. When I did it, I think I got $25 for each session. It wasn’t much, but I was desperate! The first time I went, I was so busy taking in the ‘newness’ of it all that the time flew by. And I was so grateful to get paid before I headed out the door. The second time? Let’s just say this. After having a chance to glance around and really notice the other folks in the room, and realizing that I was one of the few that actually had a home to return to, I felt a bit out of place. And, of course, it didn’t help that as I exited, a guy that was entering made reference to ‘vampires’. It sent me into a fit of giggles and after I’d had a chance to think it over, I decided not to return a third time. There had to be a better way to earn a ‘Jackson’ and a ‘fiver’!

Before I was laid off from my most recent job (due to Covid), I worked at the front desk at a facility that offers activities for senior citizens. I really enjoyed it but there was a lot of idle time. I don’t like to be bored, so I was always looking for something to do or some new program to implement. Anything to keep me from nodding off! When the lunch crowd came in, the place was abuzz and it was a lot of fun. But after lunch, it would get nearly as quiet as a tomb. I don’t like working in complete silence either (except when I’m writing). I was always asking my boss if he had something I could work on and he usually came up with a suggestion or two. If he couldn’t think of anything, I usually could dream up something. One thing I was always being asked to do was to ‘make signs’. There were so many signs in that place! There were ‘out of order’ signs, and ‘don’t put coffee grounds in the sink’ signs and ‘don’t touch’ signs and ‘hold down for 4 seconds to flush’ signs as well as birthday signs and holiday signs and ‘closed due to’ signs. I think I did that more than anything. I used to joke with my boss that he should change my job title to ‘sign maker’.

My job now? Survive the pandemic. I suppose that’s probably everyone’s job right now. There’s nearly 8 billion of us all trying to stay alive. Aside from that, my other ‘job’ (that I’ve assigned to myself) is to look after the house and write daily. I mentioned a little while ago in ‘Dreams & Desires‘ that I’m going to write every single day for a year. My hope is that I’ll get noticed by a literary agent or publisher and maybe get a book deal out of it. If it doesn’t happen, I guess I’ll just keep plugging along. Even though I’m not getting any money from writing, I’m having a blast. And I feel very fortunate that I’m able to do it. The way my life is now, the kids are grown and doing their own thing and I’m living on borrowed time, so why not do something I love?

Anyway, I’d better wrap this up. I worked on the bathroom some more today and I’m physically wiped out so I think I should get some shut-eye. Oh! And by the way…I wrote myself a check for $200,000 just like I promised. It’s on my refrigerator to serve as a reminder. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read ‘Dreams and Desires’. Then you’ll understand. All the best to you, my friends!

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