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My #FirstSevenJobs… and the Shitty Lessons Learned

tuenight first jobs shitty lisa brunette
tuenight first jobs shitty lisa brunette

(Photo: dirtyboxface/Flickr)

While everyone’s sharing their #firstsevenjobs on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve gone a step further to talk about the bonuses at each — and the shitty lessons learned.

1. The Job: Underpaid neighborhood babysitter at a rate of fifty cents to a dollar per hour

Bonus: Getting to watch MTV since we never had cable at my house, plus junk food.

Shitty Lesson: Childcare doesn’t pay well, and it’s even more stressful than watching your three younger siblings try to kill each other at home. And that world premiere Bon Jovi video wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

2. The Job: JCPenney sales associate at minimum wage, $3.35 per hour

Bonus: With commission during the Christmas rush, this could soar to a dizzying $9 per hour, my first taste of the American Dream and the perfect occasion to learn applied math.

Shitty Lesson: When I took the job in 1986, the dress code stipulated women could only wear skirts, not pants, and the skirts needed to fall below the knee. So men apparently like to tell women what to wear, and legs are somehow threatening.

3. The Job: Dorm cop for a floor with a ban on male visitors after 5 p.m.

Bonus: I met my boyfriend while working at the desk.

Shitty Lesson: Just because a student voluntarily agrees to live on a floor where male visitors are banned after 5 p.m. doesn’t mean she won’t try to sneak them in anyway. And just because I agree to staff a desk where I’m supposed to police male visitors doesn’t mean I won’t let her.

4. The Job: Clerk for a natural foods store called New Dawn

Bonus: Discounts on garlic pills and hippie purses.

Shitty Lesson: Expecting the owner of a natural foods store to be more enlightened means crushing disappointment when that owner makes you hot-wax the floor and then stands there watching you, muttering, “A man could go crazy in here looking at legs like those.” Again, with the legs. Seriously, why do we need missiles when apparently lady legs can destroy men’s brains?

5. The Job: Volunteer board of directors chair for the state’s largest environmental group, which was student-run and student-funded

Bonus: We helped amend the Clean Air Act and planted vegetable gardens in inner-city neighborhoods.

Shitty Lesson: During my tenure, the national board conducted a hostile takeover and the students were disenfranchised and disempowered. So democracy is only for people over 21.

6. The Job:  To finance the above volunteer work, I staffed a retail store called Save ‘R’ Environment

Bonus: All the Rainforest Crunch I could stomach, but I had to share it with the mall security guard, who came in every day to see if my pupils were dilated from smoking pot.

Shitty Lesson: When the owner couldn’t pay me, I realized it’s not wise to put a store for energy-efficient light bulbs and recycled pads of paper between Claire’s Boutique and the Gap.

7. The Job: Seller of memberships at an art museum. At $10.25 per hour, this was the most I’d ever earned

Bonus: As many museum tote bags as anyone ever needed.

Shitty Lesson: Museum security guards have far too much time on their hands, and they like to use it to sexually harass young women carrying armfuls of tote bags. But I’m sure my legs were to blame.

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Lisa Brunette

Lisa Brunette is a novelist, game writer, and journalist. Her non-fiction work has appeared in the Seattle Post-IntelligencerSeattle WomanCrosscut.com, and many others. She’s the award-winning author of the Dreamslippers mystery series and has hundreds of story design credits in digital games. She blogs twice weekly at www.catintheflock.com. You can find her on Twitter at @lisa_brunette.

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