First job/Worst job

Broke the ice sharing our childhood hobbies, first jobs, and worst jobs at the first early morning meeting in a week of meetings.  Nobody on staff was a tv child star. No one admitted to collecting chicken drumsticks in their sock drawer. Instead we collected rocks, Beanie Babies, elephant and frog figurines, stickers, and erasers. We chased butterflies with big nets, read a lot, and played outside in playhouses. We liked hiding more than seeking.

What captured moment from your skewed memory of childhood do you share with the kind, good, bright people in your office in 30-45 seconds to explain or excuse who you are and have always been? Memories bubbled up of hiding behind the Christmas tree watching the lights and shadows on the ceiling, of reading archaeology tales in the treehouse, of sorting the smooth rocks from the tumbler, or drawing floorplans on graph paper tablets, and writing letters, always writing letters.

Every Christmas we kids each received a package of 12 x 18 inch colored construction paper. I looked forward to this all year. I had to plan, organize, and budget the colored sheets in those three packages for myself and my two siblings to allocate the appropriate colors for every holiday in the year ahead. That way we would still have red sheets to make the placemats for our family's Christmas Eve supper. Red has so many demands upon it, what with Valentines and Fourth of July. It takes discipline and creativity to use a limited resource wisely. What are the other Valentine options? Will we regret at Easter using all the pink in February? And what about Cornhusker football games against those Sooners at Thanksgiving? Go Big Red! I believe my siblings were willing participants in this holiday creativity, but you'll have to ask them after their therapy sessions.

Staff members' descriptions of worst jobs involved being frightened, sticky, bored, isolated, or silent. This group is obviously not afraid to find out how the sausage is made or the recyclables sorted. We have dug plumbing trenches, babysat toddlers, played bluegrass gospel music, packaged cinnamon rolls, and felt demeaned by micro-managers.

When did my coworkers begin working? We took jobs playing music, babysitting, waiting tables, cleaning houses, slinging oatmeal, organizing start-ups, working Black Friday mall retail, and managing bridal registries before we were out of our teens. Sharing these stories created a surprising bond.

We need to share these stories with coworkers and with the generations of family gathered around the holiday tables decorated with kid-created placemats. Understanding the work we each do builds respect. Respect builds community, cooperation, and collaboration.

Don't use all the orange at Halloween, because you will need some at Thanksgiving.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


seana graham said...

Love this. I was thinking about first jobs as official jobs, but when you mentioned babysitting, I remembered a whole different set of memories. My first real babysitting job was for three little boys who proceeded to briefly lock me out of the house, and whose mother came home late, late, late with her new boyfriend. And strangely I remember very precisely hearing "All that's left is a band of gold" on the radio in that house, at that time.

Into the fire, as they say.

Collagemama said...

Babysitting memories could fill a whole blog, Seana. Thank you for commenting, as you just broke open some new ones for me.