Tuesday 11 August 2015

On Working

"Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex, and work.  Especially work.  People love to read about work."  Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Sometimes, when I can't sleep I go through a list of all the jobs I've had in my life.  It's a lengthy list.  Sometimes I share it with my kids and I feel like they are impressed.  There is a segment on my favourite CBC Radio talk show called The Next Chapter about the jobs writer's have held.  I think it's important to have worked widely as well as to have read widely.  Details about work are interesting to read.  Here is a list of my jobs, in case anyone else is interested.

1.  Chambermaid - At the age of 12, I insisted that I wanted to work as a chambermaid.  I thought it would be a great way to meet new people, especially boys.  One of my dad's best friends owned a hotel, so after trying to dissuade me, he agreed to get me a job at the bustling business.  I believe it was September or October when I started.  Four weeks later, I quit.  I hated missing the weekend and I discovered the act of going to work made me incredibly anxious.  Plus, I was too small to lift to vacuum cleaner.

2.  Baby-sitter - I baby-sat for several families in my community.  One summer, a friend and I shared full time care of a one-year-old while her parents worked at their busy store.  I remember that if she got hurt she would scream without breathing for way too long.  I would blow in her mouth to try to get her to breath.  It freaked me out, but I loved eating her parents' food.  Can you guess my favourite book series at the time?

3.  Bakery Girl/ Bus person - Another friend's father owned a cool 50's style restaurant in town.  She helped me get a job at the restaurant and we started off working at the front to prepare desserts and ice cream.  After a while, they took out the bakery to leave more room for seating and we were reduced to clearing up tables.  Not nearly as fun, but we did enjoy meeting the waiters.  If they spoke to us or even tossed a smile our way, we were smitten.

4.  Legal Office Assistant - My dad is a lawyer and one summer I insisted I would be a great addition to his office staff.  My very patient and supportive dad agreed to let me "help" at the office.  There were no extra desks, so he had to set up a spot for me, quite close to his office.  I think the biggest challenge for him was finding me things to do.  Sometimes, he would let me type a letter, but he always had to go back and correct my mistakes.  The office secretaries let me get the mail and sent me on any errand they could come up with.  One of the bests was going to the Callebaut Chocolate store to buy dark chocolate chips.  They let me have some of theirs in exchange.
5.  This is already a much longer post than I had planned, so I will summarize the rest.  Grocery Clerk - I ran off crying at least twice due to outraged customers

6.  Sandwich maker at local southwestern restaurant.

7.  Bathroom cleaner at a Parks Canada campground.

8.  Banquet Server at arts school.

9.  Piano Teacher

10.  Figure Skating Coach

11.  Salesperson/ warehouse manager at a nonprofit retail store

12.  Cashier/ coffee maker at Robin's Donuts

13.  Outdoor educator at conservation area

14.  Substitute teacher for three school divisions

15.  Elementary school teacher

I want to add writer, but I hesitate.  Is this a job, a passion or a hobby?  It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the list, so I'll leave it off for now.  I see I have used a few of these jobs in my writing.  Substitute teaching was especially useful in writing Subgirl and Subgirl Returns.  It's reassuring to know I still have quite a deep reservoir to choose from.  How many jobs have you had so far and have any of them made it into your writing?

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