I believe everyone should have to work a retail or service job at least once in their lives. It teaches you to be a better person. So you don’t end up like the lady who came into Williams Sonoma, stood by herself in a corner in the back of the store for five minutes, and then started screaming, literally screaming that no one was helping her. I was like, lady, I don’t even work here.
Or just like any of those other people who clearly failed preschool and didn’t learn how to be polite, functional members of society.
Luckily for me, I have done several of these sort of jobs.
My first ‘real’ job was at a nail salon in my town that has now closed. I worked at children’s parties at the salon, where I was paid under the table because pesky child labor laws don’t let you work until you’re 14 in my state. We gave the little girls mini-facials, manicures, and pedicures. After, we tarted them up like beauty queen contestants with make-up from a wide pallet of eyeshadows/lip-glosses. Just to bring it back down to a child’s level, at the end, we spun them around in a chair and sprinkled them with glitter aka fairy dust. It’s a testament to my town that some of these kids, 4 years old at most, would demand, “Just buff my nails, no polish”, or “Oh, I want a French”.
The best part of that job was getting to eat leftover cake. Even if I did always leave covered in more glitter than a Las Vegas showgirl.
I was a hostess at my local pizzeria for a brief stint. The customers were nice enough but man, the other employees. Most of the waiters and waitresses were fine. Most. There’s one story that’s totally unrepeatable for this blog, or even for, well life. But it goes along the line of the other experiences of the manager and one waiter creeping on us hostesses although we were only sixteen and seventeen. Eww.
I was a camp counselor for five summers, which comes with its own slew of stories. As a head counselor for two of those, and assistant head for another, there was a lot of drama that ended up at my feet. The girl who bit off the tip of her tongue diving into the swimming pool. The boy who had mental handicaps that his parents neglected to tell us about, and just casually walked into the 12-foot deep section of the pool without knowing how to swim. And the lifeguards weren’t paying attention so one of my counselors dove in and scooped him out.
The kid that brought a knife on a field trip. He threatened the trip director with it when she wouldn’t give him more tokens for games. And when his mother was called in, she asked us why we were handing out knives at camp. Right, lady. It was our knife, sure. Then there was the Magic guy we had to fire for taking pictures of the kids. The pool director who was likely a Nazi in a past life and used to shout at kids until they cried if they wanted to get out of the pool. Of course, there were good kids there too, amazing kids and that’s what kept me there for five years.
During one of those summers, I did a job promotional modeling where I handed out sprigs of lavender and coupons at the mall, while wearing a beret. I had to affect a fake French accent and I was uh… pretty terrible. And then for a couple of years, I was a brand ambassador for Nespresso, which was pretty amazing and fun. Luckily, working out of higher-end stores spared me from most of the crazies.
Babysitting too, should count toward my humbling life experiences. Beyond changing diapers and negotiating bedtimes, there were some truly trying times. But dealing with tyrannical toddlers has prepared for life in the real world. When else will I have to scurry after a four-year-old who doesn’t want to go to bed? Drag up him the staircase as he tries to hold onto the bannister? Or, there was the seven-year-old whose idea of playing lacrosse was lobbing balls at me and hitting me in the shins. Or the kids who played “real-life fruit ninja”, in which they wielded a knife and attempted to stab at fruit they tossed in the air. (I loved those last ones though! They were awesome, just gave me a heart attack with the keenness for weaponry).
Ahh… Good times, good times. These jobs were some great training for being human. They taught me quick thinking, and negotiation, and how truly, deeply crazy some people are.