My resume reads like a work of fiction. In an earlier post, I talked about how I’m considered unemployable because the education portion of my resume is a tad light. High school drop-out with a GED light. And yet I’ve had enough on the job training to cover at least four more people.
It’s been a bit of an adventure, at least for me, so I’m going to share it with you.
I was 16 when I got my first real job. I was a hippie living in Hollywood. Having been raised to be self-sufficient, I had rented a place with a friend from school. I met a restaurateur at my yoga class who hired me to work as a waitress at his new vegetarian place on Sunset Blvd. It was life changing. A lifelong introvert, it became part of my job to go up to strangers and initiate conversation. I discovered I not only liked it, I was rather good at it. It has been said that more people are afraid of speaking in public than of dying. Neither one scares me and I have The Source to thank for both. The owner began to teach his own yoga classes and became so popular, he developed his own following and thus began The Brotherhood of the Source. It became a family of higher consciousness seekers of which I was a part for a very long time and which I still hold in my heart. It’s its own story, another one for another time.
I did some backup singing too. Got to record at some amazing studios, like the Record Plant. Waterbeds, S&M room, they had it all. And the pay was great. Best job I ever had.
My adaptability shifted into high gear when I moved from Hollywood to a small town in Northern California near the Nevada and Oregon borders. More cows than people. More trees than people. Over the course of the next 25 years, I worked as a waitress in a couple of local eateries, photographer, writer and ad salesperson for the local newspaper, shoe salesperson, car salesperson, air traffic controller, real estate agent, office supply store staff member, pharmacy technician, bartender, and artist.
Waitressing is the only thing I’d had prior experience doing. I learned to take pictures and develop them from the editor of the paper. I couldn’t develop a photo now because I never really understood what I was doing but I could follow directions. Pour this much of this chemical into the pan and submerge the paper for this long, etc. I managed not to burn the place down. An avid reader from the age of five, writing was a new and wonderful experience for me, even if I did have to be disciplined as to how I wrote something. Allegedly. Always remember to say allegedly.
Not all my jobs were so satisfying or such an education, but I learned something from all of them. For example, working in a shoe store showed me that women lie about their shoe size. Like it mattered. Do they fit? Are they comfortable? Then get over yourselves! My foundation in spiritual teachings acquainted me with the concept of karma, which meshed well with living and working in a very small town. I was going to see my customers every day for as long as I lived there so doing my best became a habit.
I worked at the office supply store after the owner, a close friend of mine, was badly injured in a car accident and needed help to keep the business going. I learned that I had no patience with parents who let their children run wild in the store, playing with bottles of ink and toner cartridges. I also learned that I had no problem telling the children, in a voice deliberately loud enough to be heard by the parents, that if they broke something, mommy and daddy would be buying it for them.
Selling advertising for the paper led to my job selling cars. There had been a Chevrolet dealership in this little town, without sidewalks or traffic lights, since the 1930s. On one of my weekly stops there, the owner told me that his salesman was retiring and offered me the job. It was another learning experience. This was in the days when you could order a new vehicle to your specifications – engine, transmission, accessories, etc. – and I actually took a couple of orders for pickup trucks that specified the vehicle not have a radio. Go figure. I took classes on rear axle ratios and attended conventions in San Francisco where I learned how to talk to female customers on the sales floor. Ironic. On more than one occasion, I was the only woman in the room at these conventions.
It was my ease in conversing with strangers that prompted husband and wife realtors to offer to pay for me to get my real estate license if I went to work for them. I sold real estate for about 15 years, moving to another office after the husband and wife retired. It was, again, a learning experience. It put my tenacity to its best and highest use. If I had a single mother who needed a loan and was having trouble with the bureaucracy, I made it my mission in life to make sure she got it. Disheartening and disenchanting was dealing with people from out of the area who had been unethically treated by other realtors and projected that on to me. I was honest and got really tired of defending myself. The young newlyweds buying their first home became the only satisfying sale so I moved on before I began to loathe people. I could see it coming.
Another unfortunate accident made me become a pharmacy technician. I had just begun working as a salesperson in a local pharmacy/gift shop, again owned by a husband and wife, when the husband, the pharmacist, fell out of a tree. His rehab was extensive, so his wife hired his temporary replacement pharmacist full time. He needed an assistant so I was put behind the counter. Huge learning curve. As a detail oriented person, I loved the work. Once again, my tenacity came into play helping people get their medications covered by reluctant insurance companies. I also learned to hold pharmaceutical companies in low esteem. I recall a young man in a suit coming in one day to sell his company’s medicines and telling us about the price increases, as much as 400% on certain drugs, primarily those taken by the elderly. When my boss pointed out that some of our customers would have to make the choice between food and medication, this kid told us not to worry, that pharmaceutical companies have conducted studies that showed that children and other family members will contribute when seniors can’t afford their meds. I was appalled at how casually he said it, oblivious as to how ignorant about life he sounded. A major chain took over this independent I worked for, promised I would still be able to make home deliveries to the shut-ins, but they lied. So I quit.
Air traffic controller sounds rather impressive, doesn’t it? Unless, of course, you did it where I did it, at a small airport that had one strip of asphalt and your choice was to come in from one end or the other. And that choice was determined by the direction the wind sock was blowing. I ran the radio, gassed up the planes, tied them down, and visited with the pilots who hung out for the day while the people who chartered them went fly fishing. The best part was getting to take a ride once in a while.
I discovered I was good at wood carving and other artistic talents so I began to create. This coincided with bartending, which I did in an effort not to be an artist of the starving variety. I didn’t succeed as well as I’d hoped so I went back to a retail environment, working in alternative health. A learning experience of epic proportions. I started as a salesperson in a naturopath’s office where the supplements he recommended were sold. Eventually, I began to proofread and write for him but it was a family enterprise and I had a falling out with the family. Working with family has a particularly high risk of nasty pitfalls.
I have a few independent, creative projects in the works now for which I have high hopes and expectations. Involved with wonderful people. No doubts about success.
I remain undaunted….even though I am unemployable……still unable to believe that all this counts for nothing............without the right piece of paper.........