Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Happy Little Non-Career Path

Rebecca has been looking for work for the past 10 days or so. Newly graduated, newly unemployed, uncertain of an educational track; I’ve been trying to help where I can and trying very hard not to ask “What do you want to do?” There is reluctance in me to push her to decide what she wants to be when she grows up. I’m not sure at 19 anybody truly knows the truth of what they want to be. They know what they could be, what they should want to be, they know what other people expect they will be but I certainly don’t want her to feel pressured into choosing something just to feel like she’s not wandering. In fact I think a little creative wandering is good for the soul and can lead you to some pretty fantastic places as long as your belly stays full.

Helping Rebecca over the past week has led me on a bit of an employment inventory of my own working life… I was 19 once too and didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I ended up being….

A waitress, a telemarketer (for a day –they paid me it counts—but I was bad….very bad) an office janitor and a lawn cutter.  I’ve worked in a deli, a bakery, a gas station, a convenience store and a video rental outlet—okay it was all the same place but I did all of the jobs at some point in my tenure. There was a time when I was a housekeeper—I kid you not. For a while I worked in home décor following my formal post-secondary schooling in interior design; I mixed paints and helped people create looks and co-ordinate colours. Technically I knew what to do but I lacked that certain natural flair or rather ‘care’ about posh-ness and trends. I was better at the conceptualization and understanding of building so I put in a few years as a draftsperson and morphed my way into administrating for construction sites/crews. I could have been good at it but the industry tanked and I needed to eat. So I worked in a coffee shop; I loved that job and I was very happy except for the affording only to eat peanut butter sandwiches part. I left to a series of odd and ordinary jobs in pursuit of better pay and a happier mortgage company. I’ve been a receptionist, a data entry clerk, a press scheduler and a proof-reader—(which gave me ulcers and a nervous twitch). I was much better at making cakes and catering, I still had ulcers but I could show up to my kitchen in a ponytail and shorts and drink wine while I worked.  It was slightly less messy than the years I put in doing home daycare but not as much fun as the short stint decorating for weddings. Along the way to here I’ve held down a job as a grocery cashier and a store administrator. I’ve been a burger flipper at McDonalds and tried my hand at a home marketing fad (or two) selling Avon, giftwrap, milkshakes and tea. Once, I swear, I worked in a little booth and sold not so precious gold chain jewellery by the inch—that was not the worst job I ever had. The worst job I ever held was in Human Resources management—the commute was so not worth the office window and the piles of paper. I’m pretty sure that I delivered newspapers once because I break out in a sweat every time my son suggests getting a route (but that may have been a dream). Most recently I’ve dipped into the water of insurance and investments, running administration, talking to the bereaved, tracking down payments and moving money around for people who spend what I earn on Sunday brunch and golf. Four years in and I’m getting itchy.

I’ve worked for good guys and bad guys, bozos and bimbos, flakes and the fabulous. I’ve done nights, days, evenings weekends, and weeks on end. I’ve been hired, fired, canned and laid-off, promoted and transferred and I’ve never stayed anywhere that didn’t make me happy.  I started making my list and it made me laugh, I am an employment gypsy!

It brought to mind a most wonderful J.R.R. Tolkien quote:

Some of us just like taking a little more time to discover our path. 

The trick is travelling with people patient enough to let you ramble. I've been lucky in this regard and I'm determined that Rebecca will be too. 

For the record I’m not so much wandering anymore as I am heading towards a destination…

When I grow up I want to spend my days in a little café serving great coffee and pastries to interesting souls. I want to listen to people share their stories and capture each day in words. I want to feed the hope of strangers with the stories I hear and serve up comfort alongside soup of the day and Grandma’s biscuits.

Let me know if you see this in the want ads would you please. 



"Support a wander"